Master of none

April 12, 2021

   The recently concluded Masters tournament was the first one I’ve watched with interest, but not passion. I’ve lived in cold climates, where this tournament, held during the second weekend in April, conjured strong feelings of springtime and getting my own clubs out of the shed. Not this year. If a sport is capable of committing domestic abuse, golf is guilty in my case.

   I once held a two-shot lead after the first round in my flight of my then club’s championship. Mind you, the flight I was in was composed of earnest, dedicated and passionate golfers, who were nevertheless the worst chops, hackers and duffers ever to ever set foot in a clubhouse bar. Our hooks belonged in a bait shop and our slices in a delicatessen.

Our “handicaps” required that we be given a stroke on every one of the 18 holes we played, and on several holes, two strokes. Were we a baseball team, we’d start games ahead 9-0 and just play the 9th inning. Were we a basketball team, we’d start out ahead 102-0, and just have to play the fourth quarter.

 golfers gear
Photo Credit: Carol Madigan

   Good golfers hated us, because our handicaps just about guaranteed they’d have to play near perfectly to beat us in money games, while all we’d have to do to take their money was to make sure we had enough golf balls in our bag to replace the ones we hit in the water and lost in the woods. Yet there I was, standing with the certainty of a golf ball heading for the o.b., on the first tee of that second round, two shots ahead of all the other dumb asses in my flight.

Our hooks belonged in a bait shop and our slices in a delicatessen

   I made bogey on the first, a straightforward par four. It was a net par, and I retained my two-shot lead through one. The second hole is a devilishly narrow par 5 through thick woods, from which I am normally hitting my second shot back into play. But on this day, I managed to stripe one, short but straight, down the middle of the fairway. I popped a 7-metal short of the green, then hit a tentative wedge into a shallow, greenside bunker – emphasis on shallow.

   A fellow competitor in my foursome later confided that he normally putted out of that bunker, a safe way to avoid a big number, he explained. That hadn’t occurred to me in the heat of the moment, and I chose to blast out with a wedge that I was able to keep in my hands for the next nine swings, as my fellow players observed my short game on display from innumerable greenside positions, as they ordered lunch from the beer cart. I walked off the hole with a 12, and that was the tournament for me.

   Through the near 60 years I’ve played this game with the love and devotion of a battered spouse, I’ve never enjoyed a round that ended as good as it had begun. Never. Like the battered spouse who tells the detective, “he’s promised to never do it again,” golf promises the world on the putting green before the round, but by the 14th hole has reduced me to a whimpering pile of despair, turning in desperation to the beer cart for solace.

   I watched the missed fairways, missed putts, balls in the water and deep in the trees throughout the Masters this weekend, and thought, I’m not alone. There must be a support group I can join.

   There is. It’s called miniature golf, and I believe there is a windmill and a clown’s face in my future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.