Where I came from, a so-called lady golfer was always something to be hollered at, like an overheating '53 Buick blocking traffic, or a sullen waitress who couldn't remember to put cheese on the burger and leave off the onions, the dummy. Hey, you. You up there on the green with the legs like tree bark, and the schoolteacher skirt and the one-foot putt. It's good. I give you the putt, all right? So take your 135 shots back to the Mixed Grill and jump into your vodka martini with your nitwit husband who took your father's thieving money and built the country club and won't let you play here but once a week—in front of me. Go shell some peas or crochet an afghan or do whatever women ought to be doing instead of cluttering up a golf course. Fore! Fore, Agnes Zilch!
That's how it was growing up back in Texas. The most fun was to stand back there with your guys and then, after all the yelling and waiting, everybody would cut loose with a three-iron. And then when the shots would burn into the green and go between the putting stances of Slow-Play Fay and Play-Slow Flo, and when they would hop around like an assortment of Ruby Keelers, we'd sink to the knees of our khakis in aching laughter.
We had it all worked out in our minds that we belonged on the course and they didn't. We were there to sharpen up for the Goat Hills Invitation and they—the women—were there to keep us from becoming the future Hogans and Nelsons. "Women golfers are meece," we said, referring to our plural of moose.
We never asked to play through. We just did it, often while they were studying their chip shots. And there would always be one of them, a slightly rotund, menacing, scowling soul who would challenge us. "Don't you boys know anything about manners?" she would say.
We would all very wittily ask each other if we knew anything about manners and, while we putted out, we would discuss it. One of us would say he thought he used to know something about manners, back when manners lived over on Hemphill near Kenny Don Minter, who couldn't beat nobody. Manners was pretty good, we would say, but he had a tendency to snap-hook it when he got moved up in cash. We would be going on toward the next tee and the big lady would still be after us. "I know who you are, and I'm going to tell your parents," she would say.
One of us would say, "That's gonna be a lot of phone calls because we all come from broken homes."
The big lady would usually turn out to be somebody I'll call Mrs. R. F. Zinger, 14 times city champion and president of the women's district golf association. She would be the first lady ever to pass the local bar exam, the first lady pilot, a former Curtis Cup alternate, an ex-national spelling-bee champion, the daughter of the city's first four-term mayor, the author of a textbook on the history of the Colorado River and the architect of the town's new West Side freeway system.
With Mrs. R. F. Zinger lecturing after us, we would bound off down the fairway, having successfully played through, but of course a couple of us would insist on calling something back at her from out of slung-wedge distance. "Miz Zinger eats Maxflis," somebody would shout. And somebody else would holler, "In an unraked bunker."
Such was my fondness for women's golf in those days. Not to suggest, however, that my attitude would be changed by a certain maturity or my advancement into newspaper work. Anyone who ever did time on a newspaper sports desk is familiar with the type of phone calls you get from lady golfers. Mine usually came when I was listening to the Kentucky Derby and the horses were at the post. I would get the call from Mrs. Simcox reporting the net 77 that Mrs. Slocum shot to win the local women's golf association's Tuesday Flag Tournament.
"I'm sure it was a net 77," Mrs. Simcox would say. "Let's see. She bogeyed 1, double-bogeyed 2...."