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Bill Geist
April 16, 2001
The author and his son may have bonded on the golf course, but it wasn't over their love of the game
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April 16, 2001

Pop Culture

The author and his son may have bonded on the golf course, but it wasn't over their love of the game

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"But, but...," I sputtered, "we don't really know how to play. We'll just hold you up."

"No problem," said the perfectly polite man, possibly Chad. "We don't mind at all."

I hate that! Good golfers are always deigning to spout that kind of good-sport, patronizing poppycock. Or do golfers actually take fiendish enjoyment in watching others struggle more than they?

The best Willie and I could hope for was that they were all-show, no-go or that at least the attractive young woman would be somewhat awful. Or not wearing underwear. Something! Unfortunately this was the type of woman who probably wore two sets, and moreover, she went first and hit a long, looong, straight-straight, perfect-perfect drive, which her charming husband matched.

"Oh, boy," I said, sotto voce to my son, who I could tell wanted very badly to leave. I suppose I should have said something genteel like, "I'm sorry, my son has diarrhea," and begged off. "I think it was the lobster fra diavolo."

But in my state of shock I walked almost comatose to the tee and looked calmly down the fairway, for a moment thinking that just maybe, if I pretended to be one of them, I'd hit the ball as they had.

In sports it's called visualization, and it can work, sports psychologists agree. So I stepped up confidently, struck the ball, and you know what? In baseball it would have been a nice line-shot single over the shortstop. Maybe things got mixed up in the Visualization Department in my brain; maybe my visualization papers were filed under the wrong sport. My line-shot baseball hit was a line-shot golf hook into the bushes. And you know what? Willie matched my drive, which I found to be very considerate of my son.

We began beating the bushes with our clubs, but it was Chad who spotted our balls. We emerged from the thicket bowed and bleeding and pleading with the lovely couple to play on without us. But they stayed with us for several holes, probably on the same principle that you don't just stay for five minutes when you do volunteer work at the old-folks' home. Finally they realized that we might not finish before dark and bid us adieu.

At the next tee a charming older woman came over and raved about the Sunday Morning television program that I'm part of, then she and her partner teed off. It was a par-3 hole, so we waited until they were on the green before we hit our drives.

Somehow—somehow—my ball took off for distance, and somehow—somehow—directly at the green.

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