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Do you know what is the worst thing that can happen to a golfer?" Bernie Loomis asked. "Well, it happened to me today. What do you think it is?"
Bernie Loomis had just come from the country club and was still wearing white shorts and a white golf shirt, and his face was very red beneath jagged thrusts of black and white hair. He was standing at the bar in a hospitality room in an enormous motel that wanders up a hillside in Cincinnati. Bernie is president of Kenner Products, a toy-manufacturing company with headquarters in Cincinnati, and around him a number of toy people bent forward to hear what is the worst thing that can happen to a golfer.
"Can't anybody guess?" Bernie asked.
"You made a hole in one, and nobody saw it," someone said.
"Ha! That's close! That's very close!" said Bernie. "Do you want me to tell you what it is?"
"What is it, Bernie?"
"I hit a mulligan and it went in the hole!"
A mulligan is when you hit an extra ball, usually because you didn't like your first shot or because the first shot felt so good you wanted to see if you could do it again. So everybody Bernie was playing with at Crest Hills saw his hole in one, but it didn't count. People nodded and said that was a terrible thing, all right.
"Say, Bernie, when is O.J. coming?" someone asked.
"He's here. Just got in from the airport. He and Marguerite will be down in a few minutes."