Henry had a steady job working as a caddy at a prestigious world-renowned country club which is steeped in tradition and history and he usually did two loops every day. A loop involves carrying two golf bags around for 18 holes. It was a good job for staying in shape, especially climbing up all of those hills at the country club, but whenever Henry was not carrying golf bags, he was at the tavern drinking, so overall he was not in that great of shape. During the week most of the members had jobs, so they could not get out to play golf as often as they wanted, but there were some older gentlemen who took out the time to play every day. These old farts were not great golfers and in fact they were nothing but crotchety old fuckers, but Henry had a steady loop with them playing in the afternoons and this way he was always able to caddy two times per day. Golfers are strange creatures with all the bets that they make and after the beer starts flowing they usually just get weirder. They have to maintain a certain etiquette and there are a ton of rules that they are required to follow, in fact, there are so many official rules to this game, most average players do not know all of them. Henry knew all the rules and this made him popular with almost every member.
Milton Mulligan always arrived late to the golf course, he never took the time to stretch or loosen up, basically because he was just damn lazy. When he got to the course he was stiff, so much so that he always messed up his first tee shot and then he would complain that he wanted a do-over. To stop his bitching, the other golfers knew that they would have to grant him a second chance to remedy his blunder. Every time these gentlemen played together, they allowed Mulligan to replay his tee shot on the first hole without charging him a penalty stroke, and eventually they named this shot the mulligan.
This was an elite country club and because of this women were not allowed on the course till the afternoon. The caddy master was responsible for keeping the women from playing in the mornings and this worked out well for Derrick Johnson who was an afternoon player and he also had a shot named after him. At most other golf courses this shot is called the Dick Out, but here it was always referred to as the johnson, because he had done this so often. Guys will be guys and they like to play odd games and tease each other about male prowess, especially when it comes to hitting a golf ball a long distance and you might hear someone say, ‘You are a long dude, like huge!’ There is an unwritten rule, that was more like a custom, which stated that if a male player fails to make it past the ladies tee off area with their drive, than that player must open his fly and play their way up to the green with his male appendage hanging out of his pants in full view of the other golfers, to prove that they are not a woman. When ladies were on the course this custom was not followed, so there would be no johnson shots.
Kelly Gallagher used to tee them high and let them fly, but he had this awful habit of hitting beneath the ball which caused it to go high up in the air, but it did not travel very far in distance. This shot is referred to as a giraffe’s ass, because it is high and stinky, but here it was called the gallagher. The last player in this foursome was named Benjamin Buchannan and his nickname was Bucky and he had a wicked slice. Now I have to describe what a slice is.
Before I can explain the slice to you, I need to discuss the difference between right handed and left handed golfers. In my opinion left handed golfers have no reason to play this game, but since they do make left handed clubs and there are left handed golfers, you need to understand this oddity. Baseball has switch hitters, but in golf, people either stand on the left side of the ball or on the right side of the ball. The reason I dislike lefties is that I used to be a caddy and you get so used to walking up to the ball and placing the bag down on the right side of it, so the golfer can select their club, but this is all bass-ackwards when you have to caddy for a leftie. I think that the Tower of Babel may have been built by some left handed construction workers and that is why it collapsed. I’m not exactly sure who the first person was that did something backwards, but I wish I could strangle him. I understand that left handed persons are born that way and holding a bias against lefties is unfair, but they should go bowling or fishing and not play golf. I am done with lefties now, so everything else will be related to righties or normal golfers.
Most golfers don’t hit straight shots down the middle of the fairway all that often, even professionals stray into the rough. A straight shot does not curve to the right or the left and the shot that curves to the left is called a hook, while a shot that curves to the right is termed a slice. There may be times when you want to hit a slice or hook shot, perhaps to get around a tree or avoid some other obstacle. A little slice is called a fade, and a little hook is called a draw.
Being the steady caddy for the old timers for so many years, Henry knew exactly what to expect from them. The four old coots always played together and they had the same tee time and depending on how hot the day got, they would either all walk, which would mean that another double caddy would join Henry, or they world all ride golf carts, requiring Henry to carry their putters and tend all the pins. These guys were all very well off and the average age among them was probably about 90. They all had outlived all of their wives and they each had young Asian housekeepers to take care of their needs.
One afternoon, the oldest golfer Bucky, who was also the worst player in this group, sliced his ball into the woods and he looked at Henry and said, ‘What happens now?’ Henry was irritated and he barked back, ‘You have been playing this game since before I was born and you know the rules and the penalties that are incurred. The lost ball rule allows you or I should say me, 5 minutes to search for your ball. If I am able to locate your ball, then you can play it where it lies or you can declare your ball to be unplayable and that will cost you a penalty stroke and you would be able to drop your ball within two club lengths of where the ball lies, no closer to the hole.
Since you clearly did not hit it into a water hazard and there are no stakes indicating that this is marked as being out of bounds, and subsequently if I don’t find your ball in the allotted time period, you must play another ball from the spot where your last shot was played, incurring a penalty of one stroke, and of course the loss of distance. You can hit a provisional ball from here lying two on the tee and three after you hit it which will save all of us from having to look for your ball in the woods. There is one other option that you may choose which of course will also cost you a one stroke penalty, and that is to draw a line from the hole to where the ball is located and drop anywhere behind that point, keeping the point between you and the hole.’ Bucky banged his driver on his golf bag and said, ‘Cigar.’ Henry knew this was his signal to fish a cigar out of his bag and help him light it.
The cart girl came by and everyone got refreshments and Henry said, ‘Hit your provisional shot and then when we walk up to your ball, we can try and find the one that you hit into the woods, but there are a lot of creepy things in there like snakes and such, so I am not going to look too long. I actually think that this is the exact spot where some golfer last week was looking for his ball and he found a decapitated head. How creepy is that, just a head, no body and not even a limb.’
For Linda G. Hill Stream of Consciousness Saturday