Archive for July 2013

Proving I Can Laugh At Myself

July 6, 2013

Ya, I can laugh at myself.  However, if I might begin with a little brag here…

You see, I was a fairly good athlete as a young guy.  Folks around my hometown would tell you that, as would older members of my family.  The reason it’s necessary for me to tell you that is so I might also tell you it didn’t prevent me from being the world’s absolute worst golfer.  And really, wouldn’t you think that all my years at coaching three different sports would count for something?

Ya, wouldn’t you think.   Grrrrrrrrrr…

I think one of my frustrations has been that many of the skills I honed in baseball, football and hockey just never seemed to transfer over.  Oh, I know that hockey players are known to really crank their drives, but people on a course will run for cover when I wind up.  Ugh.

With that, the only ones who have ever been able to lure me out to a day of embarrassment — errrrrr, golf — have been my late dad, my two brothers and my son.  And, in most instances, it took three of them to do it.  (I said I can laugh at myself, but I didn’t say I volunteered to do it!)

Okay, so let me set the stage for what I believe was my very last time on a golf course…

Our hockey seasons over, my son and I got to join my dad and my youngest brother, John, for a day at a pretty nice place near Tampa, Florida.

I say it was nice, because it was a far cry from the Sunbaked Acres known as the Hall of Fame Golf Course (I think my brother had dubbed it the Hall of Shame).  We’re talking about a dusty place with no cover from the sun, gators popping their eye-balls up from the waterholes, and landing gear almost hitting you on the head as planes came in or took off from the local airport.

If I have one fond memory of the Hall of Fame, it was playing alongside one of dad’s neighbors, a guy named Bill, who didn’t want anyone to take this golf thing too seriously.  I mean, Bill’s favorite expression out there was, “Oh, that’s a gimme,” even if your ball was twenty feet from the pin.

My late dad, God love him, only carried about three clubs with him.  To be honest, I’m not sure he even used more than one.  Ya, he’d nub a ball from the tee, and it would roll on a straight line for six million yards.  Then he’d nub another and another ’til he tapped a near gimme into the cup.  I’m talking mostly grass cutters here, that still always amounted to a five or six on each hole.  Grrrrrrrrrr…

Brother John was also a pretty good athlete, but he took golf more seriously than I once he put the spikes and cleats away.  (I happen to like working at hockey, and just never found the time to do anything other than play golf — and again, only when I was dragged onto the course.)  You can be sure John always knew what his handicap was, while I hadn’t a clue how to even compute mine.  Grrrrrrrrrr…

I said earlier that hockey players can really crush a golf ball?  Ha.  My son, Mike, hit his drives further than the other three of us combined.  With that, I think he only had to blow on his ball a few strokes later to put it in the cup.  Grrrrrrrr…

As for me, all I can say is that my dad had tears in his eyes throughout every nine or eighteen holes he ever played we me.  I don’t care where or when it was, he could hardly control himself, laughing at my frustrations on courses from Massachusetts to Florida.  Grrrrrrrrrr…

Okay, so we’re out on this nice course, and things are going pretty much true to form.  John looks like the reincarnation of Ben Hogan, Mike is crushing balls and looking a little Tiger Woods-ish, and dad is doing his usual nubbing and somehow managing to stay with the other two.

Me?  I was doing fine for awhile.  In fact, maybe I started getting a little cocky.  For, instead of taking dad’s safe approach, and going around a cluster of trees, I salivated at a clear spot I thought I saw between them.

Ya, well…  My next — probably blankin’ six — shots looked like something out of a cartoon.  Grrrrrrrr…  I hit the first ball and it glanced off one tree and then another, probably ricocheting off about five in all.  That’s what I mean about it being cartoon-like, because one could almost hear the Ping…  Ping…  Ping…  as my ball hit tree after tree.

Thinking back, I’m not sure if dad, John and Mike were ducking for cover each time I swung.  Ping…  Ping…  Ping…  Come to think of it, though, I covered up a couple of times myself.  Grrrrrrrrr….

Then, ya know how time flies when you’re having fun?  Well, I had inched my way through that stand of trees, again to the tune of a good six strokes (at least).  All the while, my playing partners were up near the green — about two counties away, talking amongst themselves, I’m sure, and hoping I emerged from the trees before the sun went down.

I did emerge, though, and that’s when something struck me…  As clear as anything, I could recall Mike saying to me a little earlier, “Dad, my ball is way up near the green, so I’ll leave you the cart.”

Oho.

There I am, finally on the other side of those trees, and I can see the cart in the distance, not too far from where we teed off.  Ya, and speaking of teed off, there stood four pretty pissed off guys, leaning on their clubs, and staring at Mike’s golf cart right in their way.

Ya, I said “Mike’s golf cart”!  I surely wasn’t in the right frame of mind at that time to go all the way back and listen to those guys’ crap.  Dad’s belly laugh being as infectious as it was, he and John were bent over near the green in stitches, which left Mike as the only one who could bail me out.

Of course, to this day I’m sorry I did that, buddy, but…

As much as I suck at golf, and as much as I hated the frustration it usually brought me, I think it kinda neat that my last twirl around a course — despite my battle with those trees — had my dad once again laughing.  And, who knows…  Maybe blogs can be read from heaven, and dad is wiping away some tears from his cheeks right now.

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