The manager whistled and said he had some stuff back in the kitchen in a first-aid kit he thought might be helpful. He left to get it.
The player sagged down in a seat at our table. "Y'mind?"
"No," I said. "You want a beer?" There were a couple of opened bottles on the table.
He nodded. He picked up one by the neck and took a long drink and slapped the bottle down on the tabletop. He exhaled comfortably. "Boy!" He looked down at his hands. "These things are as weak as a woman's. What I get myself into? You wanna know? On television I see these guys hitting golf balls, and I watch, and I can't figure it. A guy would hit a big shot and then the guy hits a little shot. So how do you figure it? Hell, I couldn't figure it. Like all those words the guy on TV says, in that low voice so he don't disturb no one, like 'That's about a five from there,' things like that. Five what? How ya know if ya don't play the game? Or words like birdie, and wedge, and the grain of the grass and the breaks. Like he says it breaks just a bit to the left, and so I say to myself like I got to work this thing out. So I buy a set of clubs off a guy and yesterday I come out here and I buy a bag of balls and out there on those rubber carpets I hit maybe half of 'em along the ground and I can't figure it out until that guy, the manager, he comes aroun' and says I got warped clubs, and not only warped clubs but they're lefties—clubs for a left-handed golfer. Well, I feel pretty good to find that out. I wasn't hittin' the ball, and I couldn't figure it, because when I was a kid I played polo a coupla times with a no-good pony and a no-good polo stick down in South America where I come from, and I could hit the ball a shot, I really could.
"Well, I had these wrong clubs, so I shift aroun' and try the other way, y'know, lefty? The manager—nice guy, real nice guy—he says, 'You wanna lesson?' I say, 'What the hell, I can figure it.' Already I figure what that guy on the TV means when he says, y'know, 'A five, that's about a five.' He's talking about a club. The club's got a 5 written down there on the head. I figure that; maybe I can figure the rest. So what do I do? I am out here today and this guy's breathing down my neck trying to get $6 outa me for a golf lesson...."
The manager was back with some salve and a tin box of Band-Aids.
"I'm a case for the hospital," the man said. "You know what? I'm going home to my wife and she is looking at my hands and she is saying what is with your hands, Harry? And what am I going to say? Golf? You kidding? She's seen those TV programs with all that whispering, y'know, the announcer, and these guys bending over the ball and taking these little tiny strokes with these clubs, and she is going to say, 'Playing golf—you been fighting!'
"And so I am saying Sophie you don't blister fighting, you get things broke, Sophie, like a nose. This is what golf does to you, Sophie, I swear. It gets you in the hands, it can put you in the hospital, Sophie...."
The manager was grinning. He sat down and tipped back in his chair. He was going to crowd in again with the $6 offer. I could tell.
He did so: "Six dollars."