A Good Walk Spoiled

"Golf is a good walk spoiled."
Mark Twain

I've somehow reached middle age without taking up golf. I don't see the appeal of doing something so damnably difficult for recreation, but there you go - "different strokes for different folks" as they say.

When she was younger, I took the Omnipotent Daughter to mini-golf a handful of times. Aside from breaking a window in the miniature Dutch windmill with an errant putt, not much good came of it.

I also allowed co-workers to drag me to a golf scramble in mid-February on the frigid, blustery plains of Ohio. We shivered and played with an orange ball so we could find it in the snow. My slow pace kept everyone waiting way too long and several of us missed the next week of work with severe colds.

Golf at Goose

My only "real" game came in Goose Bay, Labrador. Braving swarms of mosquitoes and black flies, a friend and I borrowed a putter and a driver and went to play the now-defunct course on the Canadian Forces Base where we were staying. We got an idea of just how challenging the course would be on the first hole.

We teed off from a 12' round slab of cement covered in moldy Astroturf. It was equipped with a permanent steel tee jutting up in the middle. Our first shot was down a long "fairway" choked in weeds and sporting hundreds of pine tree stumps cleared for the second coming of Arnold Palmer. On the left was a large water hazard about the size of Lake Michigan. A moose grazed in the reeds along the shore.

Because I'd always heard it in the movies, I yelled FORE! and smacked the ball as hard as I could with my borrowed putter. "Nice shot," my friend said as my ball caromed off a granite boulder.

Mind the Moose

He lost his first shot in the lake after it bounced off a 2-ton moose ass. "Can I have a do-over on that," he asked?

"Yes. Please. That moose looks a little pissed."

We merrily chased the balls down the fairway, chopping and hacking as we went. We covered our huge divots by pushing knee-high weeds over them. Occasionally, we lost our balls in the rough (no pun intended). It was hard to tell where the fairway ended and the rough began. So, we agreed that when a ball went far enough into the head high weeds that you couldn't see the other golfer, it was officially in the rough.

If you had to call for a wilderness guide, it was a two-stroke penalty.

A Little Juice

After an hour, we arrived at the Hole 1 putting green. It rose about 4 inches above the veld on a square concrete slab covered in the best Astroturf the Canadians could provide. My friend putted first.

"Guess I'm going to have to give this a little juice to get over that lip on the green," he said as he thwacked the ball with his driver. And thwack he did - so hard the ball struck the concrete lip and rebounded into his forehead with a solid POCK.

"Nasty break on that one," he said. "Be careful."

I prepared my putt by yanking a handful of reeds out of the ground and throwing them professionally in the air to test the wind. They fell with a thud because I'd neglected to shake the muck off them before casting them aloft.

"Hmm, looks pretty calm," I said knowledgeably.

The Ungloved One

I lined myself up and wiggled my ass as I'd seen professionals do. I was confident I'd make the putt. There were no windmills with broken windows to block my way. I only wished I had one of those single gloves the pros wear - maybe a rhinestone one like Michael Jackson's.

I wasted six strokes before getting up onto the elevated green. When my friend's ball joined mine, we wasted another five strokes playing croquet and knocking each other's ball away from the hole.

Eventually, I managed to accidentally hit my ball into the iron pipe hole and it disappeared into the bowels of the earth. My friend's ball also disappeared, although we did hear his gurgle when it hit water a few feet down.

We'd played one hole. It took close to two hours. We tied at 60 strokes each and felt quite proud of our accomplishment. As we drank the celebratory beers we carried on our pockets and slapped at the huge insects sucking us dry. We wondered what par was for the hole. We looked for the sign, but it was laying in the grass, apparently shredded by a passing bear.

"Good game," my friend said.

"Yeah, same to you," I replied. "Maybe we can go on tour next year."

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, May 12, 2007

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