While the tour players are battling to make the top 125 on the money list, I'm fighting for something much more difficult to attain: the 2001 Golf Nut of the Year award. I've been a member of the Golf Nuts Society since the late 1980s and have never been Top Nut, although I came close in 1989, when I finished behind Michael Jordan, who edged me out by building a six-hole putting green in his basement. (No fair! I don't have a basement.) This year, however, I think I've got a shot. With 2� months left in the season, I'm in second place. So far I've received points for having played golf at night at every course on California's Monterey Peninsula, for quitting my job as the manager of the peninsula's chamber of commerce to become a caddie at Pebble Beach, and for hitting a shot in all six states in New England in a single day.
My biggest claim to fame—in the eyes of the 2,800-member Golf Nuts Society, anyway—is the care and nurturing I've given Arnie, as I call a divot made by Arnold Palmer more than two years ago at Pebble Beach. I took possession of Arnie in June 1999, when I had the honor of caddying for the King. After he stiffed a 146-yard seven-iron shot on the 18th hole, I stuffed his divot into my pocket, brought it home and replanted it.
I'm very protective of Arnie. I move him daily from my living room, which gets morning sun, to a ledge in my home office that gets afternoon light. I also water him every day, feed him Miracle-Gro and trim him with my mustache clippers. When it's cloudy in Monterey, I drive Arnie five miles to Carmel Valley to get some sun while I hit balls at a range.
I'm not simply riding Arnie's coattails, though. I've also written You Play the Blues, I'll Hum Along, a collection of short stories about caddying at Pebble Beach. The Pacific Repertory Theatre in Carmel is thinking about turning my prose into a play. That would surely put me over the top in the race for Golf Nut of the Year.