Mad Dogs and Bogeymen

Column by W.R. Marshall

I’d like to find the guy who started that whole “A bad day of golf is better than a good day at the office” thing and drag his cliché-spoutin’ butt behind a John Deere 1200A Bunker Rake.

Why the hostility about the game I love? It’s really my fault.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife’s uncle – known to one and all as Uncle B – called to say he was coming to town. He wasn’t even talking to me at the time. But I’m nosey and want to be a good husband – and I can’t keep my mouth shut – so I piped in:

“Hey, tell him we’ll play some golf.”

Now, I have nothing against Uncle B, but I have almost nothing in common with a 75-year-old retired dentist. A week later, he shows up during the worst heatwave since the Earth was created 4 billion years ago and St. Andrews was molten rock and bubbling sulfur pits.

“So when are we playin’,” the first thing he says when he calls from my sister-in-law’s house.

“You know,” I reply. “It’s supposed to 110° all week … and that’s the low. You sure you want to play?”

“Hell, son, I’m from Atlanta, that’s sweater weather. And I invited Skip to play with us.”

Skip … great.

Skip is my bother-in-law. He sells real estate, and he’s not a bad guy, he’s just kind of a … uhm … a … see the problem, he’s a bit on the vanilla side. Actually vanilla is Hugh Hefner compared to Skippy.

So now I’ve gotten myself into a game with people I never spend any time with, on a day when even Bedouins are staying inside watching the replay of Tiger’s ’07 PGA win at Southern Hills.

Anyone who has ever played a round of golf knows it’s who you play with and not how you play that’s important. I’d rather shoot 90 and play with my buds, than card a 77 and spend four hours with guys who … well … talk about the buying opportunities in this down market.

I made a bunch of calls to the guys I normally play with, but none could make it, and every conversation ended with:

“It’s gonna be 110°, what the hell is wrong with you!?”

I should have pulled the old “I torqued my back” bit as I got out of the car when I got to Skip’s place at 8:30 a.m. to pick them up for our 10 a.m. tee time – but it was already 98°, and in spite of chugging two liters of water during the ride over, the heat was already affecting my judgment.

There wasn’t a single car in the parking lot of the course, all the carts were still in the barn, and they had given all the attendants the day off because, “Who would be stupid enough to play golf on a day like this?”

Needless to say we teed off early. Skip and Uncle B in one cart, me, alone, in the other.

By the fourth hole I had stopped sweating.

At the turn, when I was sure we’d stop in the clubhouse – the air-conditioned clubhouse – the “boys” just charged right on by:

“Let’s get done so we can get out of this heat.”

“We could get out of this heat by going into the motherf*&%$+@ clubhouse,” I shouted.

But my tongue was already black and swollen, so all that came out was something that sounded like a Gila monster belching after feeding on a guy who went way left on a short par four.

I don’t know how hot it was, but when I put my peg in the ground on eleven, it melted.

On fourteen, Walter Hagen, wearing nothing but a loin cloth, climbed in the cart with me and said, “Have you seen, Sabu?”

“Sabu? Who’s Sabu?” I asked.

“My caddie,” Hagen replied. “I only mention it because, like me, he’s wearing a loin cloth, which is the only suitable attire for this kind of weather.”

Fifteen was the last time I saw Skippy and Uncle B. They were standing on the edge of a pond, Uncle B pointing as Skippy commanded Uncle B’s thirty-foot, sonar-equipped ball retriever, discussing what was sure to be the soon-to-be revitalized condo market. Clever devils, the heat made the water boil and the balls were all popping to the surface.

In a fairway bunker on sixteen, Gene Sarazen appeared, hopping up and down in his bare feet, raking his footprints with a palm frond.

“Hurry up, kid,” he said, never spending more than a couple of seconds on one foot before hopping to other. “This sand is hot.”

“Well,” I replied, condescendingly. “Why don’t you wear shoes?”

“In this heat, are you nuts?”

I lost the cart on eighteen … actually, I left it at the tee box after pushing my drive way right then turning around to see the cart had turned into a Bengal Tiger who was mocking my swing.

As I staggered down the final fairway, Ben Hogan, an unfiltered Chesterfield hanging from the side of his mouth, sauntered up next to me and sneered, “The tiger was right, you blocked the crap outta that drive.”

I tried to say, “Nice hat,” but all that came out was the same sound a tire with a real slow leak makes.

Hogan looked at me and shook his head, “If it was me, I woulda pulled the old ‘I torqued my back’ bit. It’s 110° out here, what the hell is wrong with you!?”


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