"You see where it went in. Miller?" the fat man said.
Mr. Packard looked back up the tree line. "The ball or the club?" he said.
The fat man crashed off into the trees and a different kind of laugh played at the corners of Mr. Packard's mouth. He was easygoing in some way that was the opposite of what you expected. It caught you by surprise. Still, it was clear to Train there was a bad side there and you didn't want no part of it.
Train adjusted the bag across his shoulder and followed the fat man in, picking up the three-wood that he thrown and wiping off the dirt. There was 19 clubs in the bag and he had to lift them up like you do flowers in a vase, shake them loose at the bottom to get this one in too. He counted them again to make sure: 19. The heaviest bag he carried all spring.
The fat man was out of sight about a minute, and by the time Train caught up, he was standing over a perfect, white, unmarked Spalding Dot golf ball, a ball that never hit any cart path. And it was laying there in a perfect opening in the trees, maybe eight feet across and about that high, wide open to the green. Train stopped and took the bag off his shoulder and felt embarrassed in some way, like he caught him picking his nose. The fat man looked at him, letting him know he didn't care what he saw, or what he thought. Train glanced away, keeping himself out of it. Just like Florida.
"Three-iron," the fat man said, and held out his hand. It was the wrong iron—he needed to get the ball up in the air—but then, when your game recalled Custer's last stand, most of the time there wasn't no right iron in the bag anyway. Golf was like that, as cruel as a clubfoot.
Mr. Packard's voice came to them from the other side of the foliage. "You find it, Pink?"
"Yeah," the fat man said, "I got it over here."
He looked once again at Train and then stepped back over the ball. He took a practice swing, his stomach rolling beneath his shirt, the head of the club scraping the overhead leaves. He stepped back and took another swing, ripping into the branches this time, and then another. Train thought of a saying he heard recently: Rules are made to be broken. Which was not necessarily a golf saying, he knew, but the golf course is where he heard it. There was always a philosopher in a foursome, and some days Train played their sayings back in his head to pass the time, found the right situation to use one on every hole. Some of the sayings were comical and some of them were resentful, but either way, they all came down to the same thing, which was disappointment. Disappointment was the only thing about the game that lasted. You could try not to get your hopes up, but you might as well tell the cat not to kill the birds. Things work the way they work.
The fat man finished with the foliage, and half the limb was in pieces on the ground and the air smelled like cut wood and the leaves did not touch the clubhead when he swung. Then he skulled it anyway, the shot coming out low and hot, headed into the pond, but it caught the lip of a bunker instead, caromed sideways, and rolled out into the fairway 155 yards from the green.