I was spending a little time perusing the events being reported on my boob tube when I caught a flash of Tiger Woods. Tiger was standing on the tee of a par-3 hole at Congressional Country Club with a club in his hand. There was no advertised event taking place so curiosity prevented me from changing channels. Tiger was doing a littlepublic relations work, and the object was for him to play a simple wedge shot over water onto the green. I witnessed the once No. 1 golfer in the world drop three balls in the drink. I couldn’t help but think, “This looks familiar.” Thinking back on some of the golf balls I have taught to swim, I thought this would be a good time to share some more of my experiences with my Pop.
Over the years, Sam and I have dug up a lot of divots around the East Coast, and there have been some comedy of errors worth mentioning.
Our home course was Rock Creek Golf Course. The “Creek” wasn’t very long, but there were more than a few challenges available. Being die-hards, Sam and I played through the fall and winter. Fall golf can provide you with a few chuckles if you have a sense of humor. We would hit our tee shots and spend the next 10 minutes turning over leaves looking for our balls. We final came upon the idea that it would be smart to drive the cart down the fairway and watch your partner’s ball.
A few trips to East Potomac Golf Course in the winter also proved to be very interesting. We would hit a shot and watch as the ball hit the frozen ground and go bouncing down the fairway. If you hit your drive straight, you might wind up with a 400-yard shot. This was very impressive until you realized you were playing a 360-yard hole and your ball was now 40 yards in the woods.
One lesson I learned the hard way was not to let Sam drive the golf cart. We were playing a hole at Rock Creek when Sam drove the cart up the side of a hill. It took a moment, but gravity started to take control of the situation. I bailed out and looked for Sam and he was standing on the side of the hill watching the action.
On another occasion, we were playing a tournament at Turf Valley Country Club and it was a steep downhill drive from the hole we were playing to the next tee. Sam climbed into the cart and when he released the brake, we were in a runaway. I bailed out, but Sam was trying to save the cart. He jumped a curb and the cart went into some mud and slowed down. I wondered, “What the hell was I thinking?”
We were playing a course in Downingtown, Pa., when we came upon a par-3 hole that was at elevation on a 45 degree angle. Again, Sam was driving. I looked at the hole and visions of the local hospital danced in my head. I quickly suggested we skip this hole and go to the next one. Sam agreed.
On one of our family vacations, we went to Hilton Head. We were excited because we could play Harbor Town, home of the Heritage Classic. We had been in the cars for two days but we still went straight to the golf course. After 14 holes we could hardly get out of the carts. However, we did get a little rest between shots while walking through the woods looking for our balls. A game of golf turned out to be a game of “The last man standing.”
A few days later we were playing Palmetto Dunes (this is a story you have heard before). We were about to play a par-5 hole with a severe right turn dog leg. My Pop hinted that I had the distance to fly my ball over the trees. I approached the tee with my driver and my ego and let fly. My ball clipped a palm branch and dropped down in the middle of the trees. When I got to my ball, I had a clear shot, but the ball was close to a log. After I examined my ball I stepped over the log to return to my cart to get a club. As I stepped over the log, the log started walking away. Mickey shouted, “Oh my God, it’s a crockagator!” It was then that Dickey uttered the words that have stuck for years. Dickey exclaimed, “Crocka what?”
There are a few more of these stories of the “good ole days,” and I promise to share them with you. But right now, I have run out of space. See you next week.