- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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The golfer came up, a drink in his hand, and stared at the scoreboard uneasily. I asked him how he had played, and he said, "All right. Oh, all right, I guess, for an amateur." But then he hesitated and admitted to a spectacular embarrassment which he had suffered that morning. He had stepped up to the ball washer just off a tee on the second nine, the type, as he described it, "like a butter churn with a handle that pumps up and down and the ball is soaped and scrubbed against stiff brushes in the container underneath. There's a towel hanging off the bottom of the container and you mop your ball with it."
"Yes, I know," I said.
He went on to say that every particular of this ball-washing apparatus was very vivid in his mind, and would remain so, he reckoned, for some time, because that morning he had lost his ball in the bottom of the machine.
"Well, that can't be easy to do," I said.
"I've never heard of such a thing," he said, shaking the ice in the bottom of his glass. "But it happened. As I was pumping away, the ball slipped from its holder and somehow got down into the bottom of the container. Lost ball. Well, it wouldn't have been worth worrying about if there'd been another ball available on the tee. I mean, I could have called to my caddie and asked him to fish out a fresh Titleist from the bag. But he was down the fairway with my bag and with the other caddies, over the brow of a hill to spot our drives when we popped them out there.
"And what made it bad, a really serious problem for my addled brain as I stood there looking at the ball washer, was that the foursome I was playing in hadn't exactly been the chummiest of groups. It just wasn't the bunch of guys you could turn around to and say, 'Hey, guys, guess what? I've lost my ball in the ball washer.' "
"What was wrong with them?" I asked. "Had your golf been that bad?"
"It wasn't the golf," he said. "Somehow we didn't hit it off from the beginning—right there, meeting for the first time on the 1st tee. Not one of us knew any of the others when we met, you know, just shaking hands and saying hello and going off as a foursome. Perhaps it was the pro's fault. He didn't help. He avoided us. If he had anything to say he said it to his caddie. He was a gloomy cuss, a Mister Melancholy, and he looked whipped, like maybe he hadn't made the cut in 10 straight tournaments. Boy, did he keep to himself." My friend shook his head thinking about it.
"What about the other two?" I asked.
"Well, one of them was a candy manufacturer. I found that out about him. Hell, I asked him—politely, on the 1st fairway, as we were setting off after our drives—you know, what he did for a living, and he said, just snarling it out like he wanted me to make something of it, 'I make candy.' He was a very thin man, with this thin mustache, like a pencil line, and we swerved away from each other, heading for our shots, and that was about the extent of it—I mean, I don't think we spoke again. Do you want to hear something else about him?" he asked me.