From Chicken Soup for the Golfer's Soul The Second Round

The Y2K Crisis

In order to get as much fame as one’s father, one has to be much more able than he.

Denis Diderot

Some of you may be unaware of the crisis on our horizon. Let this be the moment you learn.

As the new millennium approaches, a threat looms—a threat so ominous and far-reaching, its reversal will require every ounce of ingenuity, every fiber of resolve and every corpuscle of human courage. Otherwise, panic—and ultimately devastation—surely will ensue.

I’m referring, of course, to the situation in my household—more specifically, to the nasty business with the younger of my two sons, Scott.

I remember back when Scott was eight years old, an age when every nonsclaffed shot was cause for joy, when to ride in an E-Z-GO was to live large and when the world’s number-one golfer was Dad.

Oh, how things have changed. I forget whether it was Mark Twain or Will Rogers who said, “When I was fourteen, my father was a complete idiot. By the time I reached twenty-one, I was astounded at how much the old man had learned.” Well, Scott is now fourteen.

And so is his handicap. In two years he’s shaved twenty strokes. Although he can’t hit the ball as far as I can—at least he couldn’t last year—his swing is far smoother and produces better contact. His short game is sharper than that of any other 14-handicapper I know, and his putting nerves are, well, those of a fourteen-year-old. And he knows it.

So these days, when I hit a drive long and straight, I hear no “Wow!” from the sidelines, just an occasional snort. And when my three-footer rims the cup, he doesn’t commiserate, he snickers.

Scott and I are no longer teammates, we’re enemies. Indeed, for almost a year now, the little snit has been laboring under the gross misconception that, over a given eighteen holes, he can actually beat me. Beat me! Even up!

You can’t imagine how annoying it is when, every time you tee it up with a person, he announces, “Today, you’re going down.” Well, let me tell you, that is just not going to happen. At least not any time soon. After all, despite creeping decrepitude, I can still scrape it around my home course in under 80 as often as not, while Scott’s best is well, okay, 81—but let’s face it, that day the fairways were hard as rocks, and he also drained everything he looked at.

Anyway, near the end of last summer I became so fed up with his insolence that I issued a solemn oath. “Scott, ” I said, “you will not beat me this year. You will not beat me next year. Indeed, you will not beat me this century or, for that matter, this millennium. I will hold you off until at least the first day of 2000.”

Smart aleck that he is, he immediately smirked, “The year 2000 is part of the twentieth century, Dad.”

“Fine, you will not beat me in any year that starts with 1.”

And so the battle has been joined. Filial piety is dead, intergenerational strife reigns, as father and son gird themselves for a season of grimly serious combat. An Oedipal thing is going on, too, as my dear wife has positioned herself firmly behind her son.

I don’t care. There’s no way that half-pint is going to dethrone me. He might get lucky for nine holes again, the way he did last fall, but hey, neither of us had ever seen that course, and he needed an ignorance-is-bliss 38 to do it. And I can assure you I will never again allow him to take a three-stroke lead with two holes to go. I was incredibly distracted by office stuff that day. Besides, he flat-ass choked on 17 and 18.

Believe me, it ain’t gonna happen. Scott won’t start playing regularly until school’s out, while I plan to get in at least a dozen rounds before then, maybe even a quick lesson. I think I may need a little less loft on my driver, too. But I’ll get that all fixed, rest assured.

Yep, as long as he doesn’t hit his growth spurt before June, as long as he keeps sand-wedging shots that should be bumped-and-run, and as long as no one tells him his irons need regripping, I like my chances.

In fact, nothing gives me more pleasure than the notion of battling that little bugger for the remainder of this century—and a long way into the next.

Come and get me, Son.

George Peper

[EDITORS’ NOTE: George Peper held out until late November of 1999 when he choked on the 18th hole with a double-bogey to lose to his son for the first time. But that was during a vacation trip to Japan, so he decided it didn’t count! Then in the last week of December, his son threw a 74 at him to beat him soundly. At this writing their handicaps are both five, but George’s is on the way up and his son’s is coming down.]

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