Golf: A Local Cinderella Story
“Now the radar says it’s not even going to rain until after 7!”
Those were the last words I said to Jeff Solari, proprietor of the fine publication you’re holding this very minute, before he bailed on our 5:20p tee time at the Muni. Jeff’s parting words to me were, “If I go, then it’ll rain. Since I decided not to, it’ll be beautiful.”
And when I lipped out a 4 footer for par on #1 I believed Jeff. You see there is a very real fear that all hopeless golf degenerates share and that is that Caddyshack is a true story. Mainly the scene where the Bishop has the round of his life going and a rain of biblical proportions interrupts it, yet he plays through until on the 18th green where his record breaking putt skips over a water filled cup, upon which the Bishop is promptly struck by lightning.
When I lipped out the 4 footer on #1, I knew I had no precipitation to fear, it was going to be one of “them” rounds. (“them” rounds meaning uneventful, ho-hum, few pars, few bogies and probably no major wild life sightings. The type of round I play 4-5 times a week. And dry, “them” rounds are always dry.)
On #2, I make a par and the realization that I am playing behind a slow two-some. Now I hate playing behind anybody. When I’m playing alone, I put in my headphones, turn on a podcast and get around 9-holes in roughly an hour. Each click of my clubs on contact is like the opening of 60 minutes, I plan on getting around here in an hour so you had better too. When I see anybody, and I mean anybody, playing in front of me (walking or riding) I already know they don’t play fast enough.
On #3, I wait for the pair to finish their cigarettes, miss 3 or 4 putts apiece and vacate the green. I will now fill said void by sending my green dot Titleist 6 to the middle of the putting surface. I cozy up a 22-footer and tap in for another par as the twosome slinks off the 4th tee as if both of their push carts are perpetually stuck on the turtle setting of a lawn mower. They could have paused for 30 seconds and I could have teed off, run ahead of them and never would we have to see each other again. Instead they chose to enjoy the flavors of Marlboro Country and continue their leisurely stroll without the faintest regard for my wont not to get rained on this evening.
On the 4th tee, I vow, out loud that I am going to light a fire under these yahoos. Don’t they check the weather? Don’t they know that there is a certain amount of urgency in this round and like Buford T. Justice “I’m in a got dang hurry!” I stripe a drive on #4 and watch one of the chain smokers cold shank two straight into a fallen willow 8 yards away. It is then that chain smoker #2 acknowledges that they’re no match for my speed or finesse (so much finesse), they wave me through and hide behind the aforementioned fallen willow. I put a sweet little move on a 3 wood and touch down just on the opposite upslope of the par 5’s valley of sin. Walking with the purpose, I don’t even recall slowing down, I drew out a 6 iron from the dense rough and slash my green dot Titleist 6 to the heart of the green. 12-feet above the flagstick. Then the pair start walking with me. Like a slightly slower version of the Rocky running montage, these rubes think that they’ve invited me to join them. T
o quote Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend.” I march to my ball, and with the velvet touch of an English butler send that green dot Titleist 6 to the bottom of the cup for a birdie 4! (And by bottom of the cup, I of course mean, come to rest on top of 4” of pool noodle that’s inside most golf holes these days so that people can keep their grubby hands to themselves.) Without so much as a tip of the cap, I walk off to the 5th tee, leaving the bloodhound gang back on #4 to sort out their own carnage.
On #5, I waste no time and slash a drive to the right, not sliced right, just slightly pushed more right than I’d have preferred. It’s okay though, because the willow tree that occupied this space pulled a Barack Obama and vacated the premises 4 years ago. As I line up my approach I see a funny thing on the green: rain. Not 145 yards in front of me (I don’t own a GPS, just a membership to the Muni for more than a decade) it is raining with a certain authority. I slightly open up my iron shot and leave myself a 13-yard chip to the flag. But that’s not the story, the story is that I have to get the rain bonnet out of my bag to cover the tops of my clubs which are fast becoming saturated, because the rain that, until now, had been able to contain itself to just the 5th green was now coming my way! I got the bonnet snapped on while I shoved my push cart with my stomach. Two fellas were hitting their shots on the 6th tee, but quickly sought relief underneath a clumpet of oak trees.
But they were of no concern to me, I had a date with destiny, through 4 holes, I was even par. I have never shot even par on the Muni’s par 35-front-9. Best I’ve managed is a still respectable 37. However in front of me I have this tough little chip shot and above me the swirling storm clouds of a Wahlberg/Clooney sequel. But my 52 degree Vokey wedge has been my best friend lately and it (with an assist from yours truly) flip a two hopper that just misses caressing a pool noodle and instead settles to kick in range. Which is good because this rain is now coming down in sheets and sonnets. I tap my 3rd par in with the back of my 52 degree Vokey wedge (let her finish what she started I always say) and head to the 6th tee.
Or that’s what I had planned on doing before the voice of reason dictated that I should head for the oak clumpet and ride this thing out. I was resting at even par after all, even if it was in this makeshift clubhouse. The twosome in front of me and I just kept saying things like “This wasn’t supposed to start until 7:05!” and “I swear, just give me a brief break in the rain and I promise on my unborn children that I will march straight up the driving range to the parking lot and give this game up forever!” (Okay, so I may have gotten a little dramatic, but you watch a family of gray squirrels sailing across the 7th fairway in an empty 12-pack carton and let’s see how rational you are!)
It was after no less than 30 minutes that I had sent my family texts messages to tell them that I loved them, one to Jeff to tell him to go straight to hell and saw me say no less than 14 times “there had really ought to be a shelter right here”, that the rain mercifully stopped. The less hearty souls had walked off the course during the flooding, but the survivors of the “6th hole of the Muni Monsoon” played on. Not together mind you, we had seen the horrors of nature together but that didn’t mean I would actually play with these people. You know, covid, social distancing and me wanting to listen to podcast voices and not those of honest to goodness real live people.
The survivors putted out and headed for the 7th when I drilled a picture perfect 3-wood straight for the flag of the par 3 6th. As I was about to shout down for them to witness my ace, my green dot Titleist 6 smacked the green 10 feet left of the flag. The startling sight when I got down there was that the 4” of pool noodle that’s inside most golf holes these days so that people can keep their grubby hands to themselves was floating above the cup. The survivors had walked off and I had nobody to ask for a proper ruling. From 10-feet, I wailed my putt as hard as 3-men from Brewer could combined, only to see my putt submerge itself in its own casual water and to resurface 3-feet shy of the hole. After considering taking more club for my second putt, I sank……or leaned my par putt against the now floating 4” of pool noodle that’s inside most golf holes these days so that people can keep their grubby hands to themselves. Even par through 6.
On #7, I hit a fine drive down the right side of the fairway, but couldn’t find, without a surveyor’s license, an area of the course that didn’t feature freshly squeezed casual hazards. I piped old Mr. 3-Wood as good as could be expected 30-yards short of the green and with miraculous touch sent my 3rd shot to just 10-feet above the hole. Now what happened next would be the subject of much discussion if anybody but my ownself had been there to see it. Remembering the submersion on the 6th (remember the 6th!) I got firm with my par putt and saw it nod slightly as it may have grazed a now level 4” of pool noodle that’s inside most golf holes these days so that people can keep their grubby hands to themselves and then strolled 4 feet past. I dropped in my comebacker for a bogey 5, which in these conditions, or most others for that matter, wouldn’t have done my soul a bit of harm.
I can’t say the same for my green dot Titleist 6. It left me on the 8th tee as I had broken one too many promises to it, in that I was a close to the warmth of the clubhouse as one could be, but I decided to forge onto the 8th hole (farther from the house) instead. After all the promises of a better life that I made in that clumpet of oak trees, I just couldn’t quit this golfing life. (It’s like a George Strait song about the rodeo, I’m always picking the rodeo.)
This is precisely when that green dot Titleist 6 double crossed me and sought peace in the tall weeds to the left. I reloaded and managed to gamely make a double bogey 6 on #8. That’s when Mother Nature wrung out what was left in the clouds and dropped about 57 gallons of pure as the driven snow rain water directly on my head. At this point, there was no other option, I was far from home and already soaked through my innards. What else could I do? My fellow survivors of the Muni 6th (remember the 6th) walked up the 9th fairway without even playing it, which even under the conditions ought to be a punishable crime of some sort.
On #9 I switched balls to a Bridgestone, which I should have done as soon as I felt the first rain drop. It oughta be a good rule of thumb that when it rains, always play a ball from a manufacturer that also makes tires. It paid off, when after a good drive, I pulled a 3-wood that hydro-planed over the drenched fairways so fast that it could sue Ocean Spray for copyright and win. Again I clipped a wedge to 8-feet and gave myself a chance at a closing par.
I knew the end of the movie, I’ve seen Caddyshack too many times. A frog didn’t jump out of the 9th hole full of rain water and 4” of pool noodle that’s inside most golf holes these days so that people can keep their grubby hands to themselves but it very well could have, as my Bridgestone glided around the edge of the cup and stayed out. I knew it was about to happen. Caddyshack is a true story and this may not have been the round of my life or even the wettest. I didn’t shoot even par (though a 39 under the conditions is worthy of the key to the city). In the end I was the last car to leave the parking lot and probably the only person that finished their round.
That says more about my ownself than it does about them.