Thursday, April 21, 2011
Golf is a game that challenges athletic ability, concentration, strategy, and maturity. With age, my athletic ability is on the decrease. My concentration tends to…..what? Oh yeah, wander. Strategy is less important as my athletic ability declines. Hmmmm 210 yards to the green, should I go for it or lay-up? This was a strategy decision 15 years ago, now the answer is easy, lay-up….TWICE! Then go for it! At least as I grow older I should show more maturity on the course. I think. From my recent observation of some older links men, golf maturity may not be a given as we age.
Last summer my college friend Don “Squeak” Harjes (named for his sometimes high pitched voice) invited me to his private golf club. It turns out it was not really his private club; it was a nice little public course in the Pennsylvania sticks. What attracted Squeak to this club was it had a landing strip for small airplane access. Don is not much of a golfer, but he loves to fly his small single engine plane. For someone used to waiting hours to tee off a public cow pasture, an un-crowded club in the middle of Pennsylvania sounded pretty good. Getting there by air seemed very cool.
I was a bit concerned about the pilot. Squeak was not the valedictorian of our class. He missed by about 320 graduates in a class of maybe 323. Don had, however, done very well since his college days. He started up a small insurance business and turned it into a large successful insurance company.
My trepidation of flying with Squeak was assuaged by his confident demeanor and apparent flying knowledge. Everything was by the book. His preflight check list was very thorough. After all systems were to his satisfaction we took off from his airport in central New Jersey. About half way to the course, we approached the Allentown airport at an altitude of about 2000 feet. I was very impressed when Captain Don (never call your pilot Squeak) got on the radio.
“Allentown airport, this is Centurian four one niner kilo destination Happy Landing Golf Course, requesting clearance and radar check for any nearby aircraft; over.” This was very impressive….until the airport responded.
“Squeak, is that you? Damn, who are you trying to impress? There is not a cloud in the sky, visibility is ten miles, and you have instruments that will pick up an approaching sea gull if it gets close enough. OVER.” “Ah…Rodger Allentown thanks for the update. OUT.” I was now a little less impressed and a little more nervous.
After about 40 minutes, we approached the golf course. Heading in to the landing strip, which I did not see until we were 150 yards away, gliding just above a grove of trees and a power line, Captain Don informed me that the landing may be “A bit dicey!”
We did land safely, but I was scared shitless! “Squeak, what is up with the ‘a bit FREAKING dicey’ comment!”
“Oh, it was not a problem, just with the cross winds sometimes the landing is a bit bumpy.”
“THEN SAY BUMPY, NOT DICEY! What the fuck does dicey mean?”
By the time we covered the $36 greens and cart fees and were ready to tee off, my blood pressure was almost normal. We played behind a twosome, both elderly gentlemen. Squeak and I are 64, so elderly gentlemen means old; almost walker-old.
It was a pleasant uneventful round. As we reached the fourteenth hole, I had a chance to score under one hundred, Squeak had a shot at ninety.
The elderly gentlemen were teeing off, so we stayed in the cart a hundred yards away and watched. We were in no hurry. The first man up drove his ball straight down the middle. It dribbled maybe 80 yards. “FUCK!” He yelled as he slammed his driver into the ground. The second man up sliced his ball deep into the right hand woods. “SHIT!” It was lost for sure. “Take a Mulligan”, his partner advised. Accepting the Mulligan gesture, the second man teed his ball and slashed at it once again. This shot was pulled to the left, 80 yards into a swamp. “Fucking shitty crap damnitty damn damn!” The distinguished gentleman screamed as he wound up and flung his $300 Callaway diver in disgust. He pulled that throw worse than he pulled his drive. The club landed and stuck 10 feet up in a tree one hundred feet to his left.
Don and I were trying to hold back our laughter when the twosome asked if we wanted to play through. “Go ahead, no rush” we advised.
This was a show we were not going to miss.
The Geezer golfers surveyed the situation. They shook the tree; Nothing. They threw their other driver at the stuck club. The fourth try was a direct hit; both clubs tumbled back towards earth. Both clubs got stuck 8 feet off the ground. Don and I watched in amazement as these two golfers, both of whom walked like a 14 year old golden retriever climbing stairs, attempted to climb the tree.
Golfer number one made a stirrup with his hands and boosted golfer number two about eight inches up where he grabbed a foothold on a branch. Don stood ready to dial 9-1-1 with his cell phone. If either of these geezers fell, they would break like a light bulb dropped on cement. Regardless of the danger, Don and I were now laughing convulsively. With one foot on a broken branch and a seven iron in his hand the geezer golfer managed to free the $600 worth of drivers and they finally continued on their way. They were on the green before Don and I could stop laughing enough to tee off ourselves.
Green fees $36, fuel to get to golf course $150, Two Callaway drivers $600, watching two geezers risk their lives climbing a tree; priceless!
I’m sure the geezer golfers were accomplished respected gentlemen in their own realm, but they left their maturity in the locker room.
Don and I finished the round uneventfully, stifling our laughter all the way in. Don finished at 94, I managed a 102. The scores were secondary after the tree climbing spectacle.
On our way to the plane, through the club house, we passed the old dudes regaining their composure over a couple of beers. As we passed, Squeak paused and gave the geezers a golfing tip, “When you fling your club, don’t use too much right hand, it will cause a pull every time!”
Although I thought this comment was very funny, only two people laughed.