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Before he even arrived in Monterey, he was talking about "subletting" the job, which would keep him fresh for the evening card games.
"Why not?" he said. "I'll just walk along with you, and when you say, 'Five-iron,' I'll turn to the kid holding the bag and say, 'Five-iron.' " In our first practice round, on Tuesday, I hit a ball out-of-bounds, then hit one down the middle. Two-Down walked with me to the fairway ball. "Aren't you going to look for the first one?" I asked.
"What for?" he said, incredulously. "The guy just gave you two dozen free ones!"
Trix gave me some pointers about 1st-tee jitters before our opening round at the Pebble Beach Golf Links on Thursday. "Just think about this," he said. "In 15 minutes not one person standing here will remember how your shot went. Actually, even right now they don't really give a rat's ass. So screw 'em and have fun."
I also thought of James Garner's secret to playing televised golf tournaments. "Set up to the ball," he advises. "Squint into the sun. Take your swing. And no matter what happens, no matter how bad you've hit it, start walking right down the middle of the fairway." Unfortunately, Garner admits, there was one time when it didn't work: "The time my ball hit the camera lens."
With all this in mind, I went out Thursday and hit two over the cliff at 10. Trixler hit one over the cliff there himself. Then I hit another one over the famous cliff at 18, and Trixler hit one off the majestic cliff at 8. By the end of the day we had searched more cliffs than the heroine in Wuthering Heights. After one hole we were two over par as a team, which meant that we were only 44 shots behind last year's pro-am team winner.
When we finally putted out on that first hole, Schulz, the creator of Charlie Brown, actually said, "Good grief."
Still, the day was not a total loss. At one point Trixler advised Two-Down and me that we could take a ball out of play as long as it was "out of round." We both found it a fascinating phrase and decided it would be quite useful in other situations in life.
Hey, Fred, I heard you're getting a divorce.
Yeah, Bob, I am. Gladys got a little out of round.