Yep, It's that time of year when you wonder where the white went. With dozens of fine golf courses spread throughout ski country, you can often play golf and look up at ski runs where you spent most of your money last winter. Now you can spend what little is left by visiting a different golf course every weekend all summer. In case you haven't partaken, golf is a game that's as silly as skiing, but played by older people.
There are a lot of words in the English language that, spelled backwards, mean something completely different. For example: Stop is pots spelled backwards. Tums becomes smut, words like that. Golf to me means the same thing either way because flog is what I do to a golf ball.
I do not pretend to be a golfer. I don't even know how to keep score. The last time I played, in 1968, we kept track of our good shots and the guy with the most good shots was the winner. My partner won because he had five good shots.
The other day, a friend of mine was hosting a golf tournament for 22 of his weekend houseguests, and he invited me to fill out a foursome. I dug around in my garage and found my nearly new, hardly ever used, set of Arnold Palmer clubs. They were buried under half a dozen crab traps that didn't work too well, behind the band saw, alongside the drill press, and under the outboard motor that seized when I forgot to add oil to the gasoline four years ago.
I arrived at the course properly dressed in matching short pants and the only golf shirt I own. It just happened to say Johnson Evinrude on the shirt pocket. I've had it from the days they still put pockets on golf shirts. After meeting 22 people whose names I didn't bother remembering because I will never see them again, I was put in a foursome that was starting last. I thought teeing off last was in deference to our ages. The four of us totaled 274 years, with six years having something to do with golf.
As I dragged my golf bag out of the car, I vaguely remembered having put a pair of golf shoes away after the last time I played-in the fall of 1968. A friend of Jean Claude Killy's agent had given the clubs to me because he was also Arnold Palmer's agent. (I thought I would drop some names before I tell you about the fifth round of golf in my life.)
I dug around the 19 zippers in my golf bag and found my long-forgotten golf shoes. When I tried to put them on, I suddenly remembered that the last time I wore them, heavy rain had driven us off the course. I must have just stuffed the shoes in the bag along with my wet, grass-covered socks, as they were now two-thirds full of what looked like some rare, mutant, green-and-gold-colored moss. I easily dug out the moss with my sand wedge, and then the shoes fit quite comfortably. There was no room for my socks, however.
As for balls, I had purchased a couple dozen recycled golf balls at a discount sporting goods store six years ago when I had decided that I wanted to learn how to juggle. Since we were only playing nine holes, I figured that 18 out of the 24 balls would be enough.
By the seventh hole, I had run out, and the guys in my foursome were charging me $5 per ball and standing way back to watch me hit them in every direction. They also convinced me that the red stripes around the balls made them more valuable.
I think they called the tournament Best Ball or Scrambled Eggs or Old Maid or some such thing. At any rate, I never did hit any of my rapidly dwindling supply of balls anywhere except into the trees, into the lake or onto the highway alongside the course.
When we finally staggered into the clubhouse after nine holes, the host and his 22 guests were gone. The course pro turned to us and said, "They left a trophy for you and a map of how to get to their house." The trophy said, "Highest Gross." Whatever that means.