I’m not sure my kids even knew what’d happened.
I almost punched an old man the other day.
Okay, that’s a lie. I have too much self-control for that. But I wanted to. A lot.
I typically play golf fast. Not like sprint in between every shot fast, but I figure if you’re gonna suck you might as well suck fast. Might make the suck, suck less.
Unimpeded, I’ve been able to comfortably knock out 18 in under 2 and a half hours. Walking.
I don’t mean that to be some kind of gloat, but more of setting a precedent for what I know I’m capable of. It might be of importance a little later on.
I’m not majorly fond of a backed-up golf course or having to wait on every tee, but I’m sure as hell not the kind of guy to lose my cool over it. Frankly, waiting to tee off is something I’ve come to expect on any day I happen to be on a golf course with pleasant weather.
That’s what happened last weekend.
Being the self-proclaimed, largest golf addict in the tri-county area, I was requested to teach a friend’s son how to play golf. Naturally, I obliged and brought the entire family.
Armed with two mothers, I courageously traipsed out onto the course with 4 children under the age of ten in tow. I didn’t have much of a plan but I knew most normal golf etiquette would need to go out the window.
The boys in the Pro Shop had sent us off 10, seeing a gap in play and knowing there wouldn’t be another spot on the front for at least an hour. We loaded our carts and pulled up to the tee where a young guy seemed to be waiting for something. There wasn’t anyone in front of him so I assumed his buddies must’ve made a clubhouse stop at the turn. Knowing we were going to be excruciatingly slow, I advised our group that we’d wait until they’d gone off and we’d follow after that.
As his partners arrived, the dude waiting turned back and said, “You’re not gonna start on one?” Sensing the disdain in his voice, a smirk rolled across my face as I casually replied, “Nope. We’re starting on ten.” He turned back to the others and they took off down the fairway. I should’ve taken it as an omen.
I’ll be honest, the one thing that gets under my skin is people attempting to wield authority over me without actually having any authority to wield. It drives me nuts. Don’t get me wrong I understand trying to help and keep order in the world, so I understood three guys wearing polos and slacks questioning whether a guy wearing a football jersey and dragging a bunch of kids around would know anything about etiquette.
The thing I find ironic though is that the true golf sickos are the ones who look like they know absolutely nothing about the game, the ones who will play no matter what, collared shirts be damned.
Two holes later and two groups have already played through. Our gap had shrunk to almost nothing by the time we got close to the green on our first hole, and every single kid was deadset on getting the ball into the hole. Not really something that happens in a timely manner, but I was making every effort to keep our group out of the way and still get what we’d paid for.
Anyway, as we sat in the fairway of the par 3 12th, watching the group I had just let play through finish out and walk to the tee of 13, a group of older men drove by.
“You should really let people play through!” came the snarky cry. I could feel my face flush.
“We are!” I replied with all the kindness I could muster.
I could hear him mocking me as he pulled up to the other group.
“We are,” he repeated sarcastically. I’m sure I wasn’t meant to hear that.
I’m sure he didn’t expect me to hear the other group explaining to him that we’d just let them play through either but you better believe I let out an audible laugh. I was so furious but laughing was all I could do to keep myself from retaliating.
As if the golf gods themselves were having a laugh, we had to wait for them to tee off after finishing the hole.
The feeling of anger slowly subsided as they drove off down the fairway, and instead turned to one of shame. Not for myself or my group, but rather for the game of golf. Shame that someone could be so self-important that they’d deride a family because they were in their way.
I wondered who had taught that man to play the game and wondered whether he’d forgotten how he’d felt on the day he’d first set foot on a golf course. I wondered if he’d felt nervous in front of his father’s friends. I wondered if he saw them hit a ball hundreds of yards and disintegrated internally when his ball went three feet. I wondered if he’d continued with the game all these years because his father had been proud he’d stuck it out that day.
I’m not sure my kids even knew what’d happened. They surely didn’t seem to care. I couldn’t help but feel sorrow. Not for him, for the game. That the game I revere could play host to someone who cared more about the number on their card than sharing their passion for this spectacular game with a child, chewed on me, and stomped me into the ground.
By the time we’d reached the 17th green, I’d managed to put it mostly out of my mind. Keeping four kids from beating the hell out of each other while directing the traffic around us was enough for my brain to handle as it was. But as I pulled my ball from the hole, my eyes gazed up toward the 18th tee, to find his group waiting to take their drives. We’d be waiting on them once again and once again, the gods would have the last laugh.