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"Well, this one time," he went on, "I had been out with the jeep and picked up the balls. It was a July night, very late, with everything damp and sticky. There was just this one customer out on the firing line. He had come into the place—I could hear his tires screeching in the parking lot out back—not so long before closing time. Very late. An odd kind of cat. He took his pail of balls and they were gone in no time at all—he just ripped them out there, hardly taking the time to tee up his shot. Some he'd really sock; he was a big man. But he never took the time to see them sail out there—he'd be bending over the rubber tee with his next ball. Then when he'd done with his pail he came back to the window, y'know, of the little office where I was, carrying this club in his hand, and he looked in, fierce as all get-out, and he said, 'Gimme another pail!" real tight.
"Well, I set him up with his pail and he went on out and got rid of them quick. Of course, closing time was coming up, midnight, but I don't like the looks of this guy. He wasn't someone you could just announce, 'Closing time, buddy,' without maybe his getting fierce and upset. So I gave him some extra time. I thought maybe I'd wait until he finished the last pail of balls, and then when he turned up at my window I'd say, just as cheerful as I could, that the place was closed for the night, but for sure we opened good and early in the morning and he could start right up fresh then.
"Well, I waited there reading a mag in my little office. But the odd thing was he didn't turn up for another pail. Strange, y'know. So I looked out and there he was, hitting the balls all different. Before he'd been ripping them out as fast as he could; now he was pulling a ball out of the pail and looking at it very carefully, turning it in his hand, and talking to it, and then he'd set it down on the tee. Then he'd talk to it some more, really giving hell to the ball. I could tell from the way his lips were moving. Sometimes he'd lean down and take the ball off the tee and talk to it some more from close up, just an inch or so away from his mouth like he was going to bite it. Then he'd set it back on the tee and after a while he'd rear back and really sock it—he'd put everything into really riding that ball out of there. He must have been a good golfer—I mean, those drives of his were getting out to that big archery target that is 300 yards off. And y'know on golfing ranges we use very low-compression balls with a wire in them, which makes it hard to give them a long ride. Of course, we bring in the targets to compensate, y'know?
"But this guy really poked them out there. Each shot, what with all this jawing and talking, took so much time that the dawn would be coming up before he got down to the bottom of his pail. So I moseyed on out there from my office to say it was quitting time, just to say something like, 'Hey, buddy,' nothing sharp or controversial...and you know what this guy did?"
"Why he angled around on that tee, moving quick like a crab, and he lined his shot up on me. Lord Almighty. I mean, there I was, right in his sights. He kept shouting at me, 'Get back!' You know what I did?"
"What?" I asked.
"I put my hands up in the air like I was being held up with a pistol."
"No," I said.
"I'm not kidding. I mean that guy facing me with those wild eyes and that driver just twitching to hit—man, I'd rather of faced a guy with a shotgun."