I’m playing in a certain golf tournament tomorrow with fellow MOB bloggers and some Comment Trolls. The summer-long hype and trash talk leading up to this event has been intense and it might seem fitting for me at this point to regale you with tales of my greatest rounds and most spectacular shots. I don’t want to put myself in the running for the Spotty, however, and I’m afraid that if I did it also might induce King to move the betting line in the wrong direction.
Instead of telling you of the Bunyanesque drives that split the fairway like lightning bolts, or pin-rattling five-irons, or those wedge shots that landed on the green like a butterfly with sore feet I thought I’d regale those of you still reading with some of my less than stellar (but no less memorable) moments and galactic blunders that have caused me to adopt the nickname “O.B. Juan”.
And no, I’m not counting the time my clubs were stolen before I even got to the first tee.
Here’s a story that might explain a lot: my wife and I were playing with another couple that are friends of ours and on one hole my approach shot to the green was long and to the left, going behind a stand of small spruce that bordered a road. The other guy was maybe 40 yards in front of the green and while he figured out his approach shot I made my way behind the trees to see if my shot had stayed in play or gone into the road. After a few minutes I found my ball and stepped out from behind a six-foot evergreen to see if I had a line to the flag. Unfortunately that was right at the time my friend literally “skulled” a wedge, sending his ball on cruise missile trajectory that neatly bisected my eyebrows. Fortunately I was wearing a new, crushable straw hat that absorbed much of the impact, though I was left with 14 dimple-shaped blood drops in a round formation on my forehead. I had my revenge, though: the rest of the day every time my friend lined up a putt I’d say something like, “Why is it suddenly getting so dark?” or “Grandpa, is that you?”
My commentary around the greens has been a problem other times, too. Once I was playing in a 4-man scramble where my team was trailing the leaders by one stroke with two holes to play. We had a 25-foot putt for birdie that we all looked over carefully before our first guy stepped up to try the putt. He eyed the line carefully, and in a dead serious tone said, “I am aiming six inches left of the hole.” There was something about the tension and the way his voice sounded that reminded me of one of those movies where someone has to defuse a bomb. I suddenly heard myself saying, in the same tone of voice as my friend, “I am cutting the blue wire.” The putter froze, and it was deathly silent for about two seconds. Then his forearms started to shake, and then his whole body and then we all started laughing so hard we had tears coming out of our eyes. The worst part was that none of us could stand over the putt without starting to laugh all over again. It was the kind of laughter like you try to suppress when you hear a fart in church, and we were just about as successful. We barely made par that hole and we still couldn’t compose ourselves on the final hole and we ended up losing the tournament by one stroke. I thought the guys were going to kill me.
I guess the all-time worst episode was when I was playing on a course near San Diego with my dad, my brother and my uncle. One hole featured an unusual bunker that was actually a hill on the side facing the fairway, with sand on the back side. Naturally I had to push my tee-shot left and into this bunker, finding myself in the sand with an uphill lie, trying to get over a wall higher than myself with no view to the fairway. I tried to hit out and over the wall, but the ball caught the lip and rolled back down behind where I started. This actually gave me more room and a better angle to try to get a wedge to the fairway, so I tried it again. No luck. In fact, worse luck, as the ball came back and rested in one of my footprints. This time I turned and aimed back toward the tee, punching the ball back to the fairway, quite disgusted with the whole affair. I grabbed the rake and smoothed my numerous footprints, then climbed out of the bunker and tossed the rake out ahead of me in disgust. It landed perfectly on the curvature of the tines and bounced back directly at me, airborne as if launched from springs … and heading right for a delicate part of my anatomy. I twisted away, and the handle of the rake caught the hem of my khaki shorts. The combination of the tines then re-establishing contact with the ground while I turned my body resulted in the right leg of my shorts being torn from hem to belt loop. Keep in mind, all of this time I was out of sight from the rest of my four-some who were up ahead and could only see the occasional bursts of sand as I tried to extricate myself. When I finally came staggering around the side of the hill, the now-exposed inner pocket of my shorts flapping in the California sun they thought I must have been attacked by a wild animal. “Breezy” described the rest of my round, if not my attitude.
Man, I can’t wait for tomorrow.