Spring is here, the masters approaches, and something strange and wonderful came in the mail the other day: an invitation to play in my first big pro-am golf tournament. I was nervous about it, so I found the guy at my course who has played in even more pro-ams than Gerald Ford and Tip O'Neill put together—Ned (Two-Dollar) Nassau. The last time Two-Dollar missed a pro-am, Steve Melnyk was a size 32.
"First thing you've got to know," Two-Dollar said, "is how to talk. You've got to sound like you know what you're doing. Like when you hit it into the rough, you say, 'Damn. Spinach.' "
"Right. Now, a three-putt is a 'three-jerk.' And don't ever call the green the green. It's 'the moss.' Out of bounds is 'O'Brien.' And 'juice' is when you get backspin on the ball."
"Juice? I've played 20 years and never got juice."
"Right. So when you hit one of those screaming five-irons that bounce over the green and off the Chipwich cart, just turn to your caddie and yell, 'Did I just hit a 90-compression Surlyn ball? I specifically asked for 100-compression balata, you graphitehead! That shot would've been stoney!' "
"Close to the stick. Now, if your shoes need polishing, you just say, 'My nails need a rub.' A really long putt is 'two-dollar cab fare.' Say you 'shot the route' with a 66. Even-par is "level." The 'barn' is the clubhouse. Practice saying something like 'Dang. If I hadn't hit it in the spinach there and then three-jerked that two-dollar cab fare, I'd have brought it back to the barn level."
"Could you go over that again?"
"Now, soon as you get to the course, find your caddie and fire him."