My friend Elmo called and asked, “Would you like to play some golf?”
By the time I had found my golf bag, low scudding clouds had turned the beautiful spring day into something else. The wind was blowing about 15 mph. My golf bag was in my workshop, behind the outboard motor and under the pile of wood scraps from the table saw.
Elmo lives on a farm down in the hollow near the dump. This is fine with everyone in the neighborhood because he raises about 50 hogs and it is a toss up which smells the most, the dump or his hog farm. He usually meets me at the end of the road in his ’53 Ford pickup, so his wife will think he is going on his daily trip to get all of the garbage from the restaurants on the island for his hogs.
Golf here on the island is expensive. It’s gone all the way up to $15 for nine holes or $20 for 18. I never carry enough golf balls to last the eighteen holes so Elmo and I usually play only nine; sometimes less when we run out of balls early.
In the muddy parking lot of the golf course I changed into my golf attire. As I tried to step into my golf shoes they sure felt different than my ski boots. That’s because the last time I wore them in October it was raining. I had just tucked my grass-covered, wet socks into the golf shoes and they stayed wet all winter. I took the socks out and tried them on again. Still wouldn’t fit because of the gray green moss that had spent the winter multiplying. I then dug most of the moss out of the shoes with my rusty putter and they almost fit.
By the time Elmo and I got to the first tee, the wind was blowing about 20 mph. We spent a little time practicing putting while the foursomes who were starting ahead of us got their act together. They were all members of overeaters anonymous on a weekend trip to our island. I don’t know how clothing manufacturers can make a pair of pants that can hold 315 pounds of cellulite without exploding.
On the first par five hole, they took at least 10 strokes each to get out of Elmo’s driving range. He’s about two hundred yards shy of Tiger Woods and he sure looks weird driving golf balls in his canvas overalls and logging boots.
Running right alongside the left-hand side of the first fairway is the highway from the ferry dock to town and there is usually a broken windshield every week or so.
Elmo managed to hook his first drive and it bounced on the asphalt just in front of the sheriff’s car, skidded across the double line, and ricocheted off another car and then hit the windshield of the sheriff’s car. The sheriff skidded to a stop, jumped out of his car with his revolver drawn hollering “OK, out of the bushes with your hands up!”
Since winter rules were still in effect I did pretty well on the first hole. My 11 for the first hole included continually lifting my ball out of those deep lawn mower tracks that had filled with water from six-and-a-half weeks of rain.
By the time we got to the third hole heavier rain was falling and I had gone through my first half-dozen golf balls. Some were lost in the trees, some in the three-foot high grass alongside the fairway and a few had just sunk out of sight in the deep lawn mower tire tracks and mud.
By the fourth hole my feet were sopping wet but I figured that the rainwater would help dissolve some of the winter moss, and fungus that I couldn’t dig out with my putter.
By the sixth hole, I was dangerously low on my 24 recycled golf balls and the rain was now coming down like it meant business so Elmo suggested that a cup of coffee might be a little more fun than the last four holes that were down in the hollow.
The question was: What would we do about our handicap if we quit before nine holes? Since we just fake it anyway I agreed to cut the game short. When we got back to the clubhouse there was a note on the door that the owner had gone home and to call in the morning if we wanted a golf lesson.
There is a big difference between “need” and “want.” And I need them.
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