Friday, January 16, 2009

FORE! Why keep score?

(originally published June 27, 2006)

I believe a great round of golf isn’t measured by the final score but by the number of golf balls you find while rooting around in the rough for your own errant shots.

Finders keepers. I haven’t bought a new golf ball since the Clinton administration.

A found ball that’s been half-buried 50 yards off the 13th tee in waist-high grass for the past three summers will sail into a water trap just as easily as a $10 ball you bought from a slick-talking sporting goods salesman named Chip who promised such a ball would change your game and your life. Screw Chip.

But finding an old ball, which has been lost in the rough for years, ravaged by time, discovered by no one and forgotten by all, evokes a tremendous “I am a god” kind of feeling.

You reach up, wave the ball over your head like it was the Hope Diamond and shout out to friends standing safely on the cart path, “Hot damn! Found another one! Cha-ching!”

And you ignore the fact that stomping around in tall, itchy grass has also gotten you 36 chigger bites, starting at your ankles and winding their way up to your crotch and places only your OB/GYN is allowed to go. Neither do you notice the skunk hiding 5 feet away. But I guarantee your friends will as soon as you find your way back to the fairway.

The stuffed, hot pink flamingo club cover I keep on my 5-wood has been my good luck charm for the past several seasons. Pinky Tuscadero, I call it. I stole it from my husband’s golf bag after he remarked it wasn’t manly enough for him. But what does he know? He buys $10 balls.

One rub of Pinky’s head before teeing up the ball is guaranteed to…well…do nothing really. But that doesn’t stop me from trying. And he’s too cute to toss in the lake. Kinda like my husband.

A friend and I recently played our first round of golf for the summer. The first time out is rarely pretty since we never play between the months of September and May.

Which leaves only the lazy, hazy days of summer to wow and astound the locals with our amazing lack of talent.

Allow me to give a rundown of the day’s events, beginning with the first hole.

I tee up ball. Take practice swing. Club shoots out of hands during backswing. Friend standing behind me ducks to avoid $200 driver sailing at her head. Friend spills beer. Friend gets mad. I run off tee box to retrieve club. Then flag down drink cart to buy Friend new beer. Friend is happy.

Soon after, three of my balls are lying at the bottom of the small creek that cuts through the hole’s fairway. Said creek is only 20 yards off tee box.

I turn to look at Friend. For the fourth time in the past two minutes she says, “Hit another one” and knocks back a beer.

She looks a little wobbly. I fear if I don’t hit a decent drive soon, she’ll be toasted by the third hole. I worry because she’s driving our golf cart.My fourth drive ends up in the cart of a golfer on next hole over. I would have followed proper golf etiquette and yelled “FORE!” but didn’t bother. He was too busy wading in the lake looking for his own shot. Loser.

Friend decides it’s her turn to give it a whirl. She’s confident as she steps up to the ball. Doesn’t even take a practice swing. Draws the club back and THUNK!

Ball takes off like a rocket, soars a jaw-dropping three feet off the ground and lands with a plunk in the same damn creek. I think I hear that other golfer yell “Loser!” but am not sure.
Friend turns to look at me. I shrug and suggest she put down the beer before swinging next time.

You can e-mail your own golf tips to Kelley Baldwin at life-like-mine@hotmail.com.

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