64: Golf Nuts

64: Golf Nuts

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Golf and Sport

Golf Nuts

Let’s talk about golf nuts.

I’ll start with the runny little sixty-eight-year-old combatant who always insists on playing from the gold tees.

He says you can’t really see a golf course unless you play it from the tips.

He finds something terribly intriguing, as opposed to insane, about a seventy-two-hundred-yard golf course, particularly if it’s infested with water, waste, sand, bulkheads, trees, moguls, deep rough, violent wind, severe pins and slick greens.

He would never improve a lie. He is greatly offended at the mere suggestion of a mulligan.

He loves playing a par-5 hole with driver, 3-wood, 5-wood, 7-wood, sand blast, pitch, chip, and four putts.

He is enthralled by a long, brutal par-4 hole that he can attack with driver, lateral, spoon, unplayable, 5-iron, boundary, 9-iron, cart path, pitch, and three putts.

He is fascinated with a killer par-3 hole that he can bring to its knees with driver, water, 5-wood, bulkhead, wedge, chip, and three putts.

One day he hopes to break 126.

“How did you play today, dear?” his wife asks.

“Great. I had a putt for a par and three chips at birdies.”

Next, I give you the tireless gentleman who calls me every year or so to bring me up to date on the progress he’s making in trying to play all of America’s famous courses.

He has been at this for about twenty-five years, I guess.

In all of the phone calls over the past quarter of a century, he has asked me the same question.

Can I suggest anything that will help him get on Pine Valley, Augusta National, Merion, Seminole, Cypress Point, Oakmont, Los Angeles Country Club, Bel Air, Shinnecock Hills, Colonial, Winged Foot, Chicago Golf, Brook Hollow or Olympic?

I used to say, “Crawl over the fence and don’t play the 1st hole or the 18th.”

Now I say, “Steal a hundred million dollars from your company and put a hyphen in your name.”

I give you this retired fellow I’ve stumbled upon who plays six times a week and makes all of his own clubs. They are rather crude-looking things, but he makes them in his workshop.

Although golf is obviously his life, he has been pleased to inform me that he has never attended a tournament, doesn’t watch golf on television, doesn’t read golf books, doesn’t read golf magazines and doesn’t even read the sports pages of the newspapers.

One day he asked what I did for a living. I said I was a writer.

“What do you mean?” he said, looking at me as if he had just heard of the most bizarre profession imaginable.

I said, “Well, among other things, I write articles for a golf magazine.”

He looked at me for a long moment, and then he said, “Why?”

I excused myself hurriedly and went home and reported to my wife that I thought I had just met the mysterious sniper who fires at motorists from a freeway overpass.

Also in my neighborhood is this elderly man who only plays on weekends but spends the rest of the time hunting golf balls.

He’s always out there during the week, creeping through the trees or poking around at the edge of lagoons.

It is rumored that he has over ten thousand golf balls in his garage, where he keeps them neatly arranged on shelves.

More than one person has told me I must visit this man’s garage—his collection of golf balls is astounding.

“It’s on my list,” I say nicely.

As amazing as anyone I’ve heard about lately is the dentist. He is said to be a lifelong fan of Arnold Palmer. He is said to be such a fan of Arnold’s, it borders on mental illness.

I don’t know if it’s true—I can only hope—but the dentist is purported to carry in his pocket a ball marker made from the gold that was extracted from Arnold’s teeth.

This might not make him the biggest Arnold Palmer fan in the world, however.

There was a journalist in Great Britain whose unbounding hero worship of Palmer became a legend. He was never satisfied, one hears, with autographs, scrapbooks, photos, paintings or articles about Arnold.

One day he got the inspired idea to begin collecting the divots Palmer would take out of fairways in England and Scotland. Eventually, the entire lawn of his home near London was made out of Arnold Palmer divots.

Actually, if I were to follow through on a thought I had the other day, I think I could be exempt on the Golf Nut Tour myself.

You see, I have this habit of knocking balls into the woods when they betray me. I might add that it doesn’t take much for me to feel betrayed. A four-foot putt that curls out, a pulled 7-wood that winds up in a bunker, a chip shot that races across the green and into the frog hair, a tee shot that defies its stern warning and seeks out the forest.

I’ve been leaving these balls in the woods, but I’ve come up with a better idea. A small cemetery in my yard. It could be fenced in by a variety of broken shafts. Call me the Mortician.

In this cemetery I will bury all of the golf balls that betray me, because if they can betray me once, they will certainly betray me again. Planted into the earth, however, they will have nothing to do but rot in eternal hell forever.

Never again will they be able to bring unwarranted grief and anguish to some innocent golfer, like myself, who never meant them any harm whatsoever.

It’s what they deserve, I say. All I’ve ever asked of them is a simple string of bogeys.

~Dan Jenkins
Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul, The 2nd Round

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