It’s a lazy summer Sunday. We’ve had rain for weeks. Today it was bright sunshine. Still it’s muggy, though. I’ve got a pair of golf sandals I’ll wear sometimes. When I walked through the back yard the turf squished under my feet, and the mud seeped up towards my toes. When I was a boy, I’d gone barefoot, but I’m a little more cautious now. Gotta go the office in the morning, and I like to believe my people still need me. The ground squirrels darted around, and the birds flitted past. My dog came up to cheer me on, and I gave her a pat on the head. ‘Don’t worry kid, it ain’t like we’re going bear hunting,’ I told her.
Some days you feel as long in the tooth as those afternoon shadows, and this was one of ‘em. From where I hit practice balls, a favoring wind often blows a gentle breeze. Daniel Boone said, “Wisdom comes by facing the wind; fools let it carry them.” (From Robert Morgan’s book, ‘Boone’) Ben Hogan used to practice into the wind. Maybe he knew, or at least read about Daniel Boone. Oh well, I ain’t Hogan. Daniel Boone was a wise man, but I thought I’d take what help I could get. Besides I wasn’t on call. I was wise enough for golf for the day, though maybe not Doctoring. I set up with the wind at my back.
There’s a yellow bush down the fairway about 230 yards. I took another look. Arnold Palmer used to say there was this one hole at Latrobe where you had to carry a creek. When he was a little boy, he used to hit it over for the ladies for a quarter. He said when he got to where he couldn’t fly that creek, he knew it was time to give it up. That yellow bush serves as a similar marker for me. I took a few practice swings. Would this be the day?
It was hot. I began to perspire. I teed it up, and roped hooked the first shot in the creek. Dang. Now it was no longer perspiration, but sweat. Hm. I guess my little bluegrass friend Sophronie would say it beats hauling rocks. I bet Daniel Boone’s wife Rebecca would say the same.
I had to laugh. What the h#!! am I complaining about! The hardest thing I do is push a pencil. One summer I picked cotton, and when I worked the paving crew I went back to school that fall and made an ‘A’ in Organic Chemistry. It wasn’t as tough as the paving crew by a long shot. I drew back and made another pass. A little more solid, but pushed. Better.
The breeze picked up. It was like coolant for a radiator. I mopped the last bit of sweat with my towel. ‘Three’s lucky, here we go. I ain’t so old.’ I drew back and popped a good one. “Sail away, ladies!” It wasn’t an Arnie shot but it was solid. The impact went all the way through my chest. She pierced through the blue sky, curved with a gentle draw, and cleared the yellow bush on the fly.
I hit a few more good ones, and went to retrieve them. Old Ezekiella came out to help. She pranced around the Bermuda fairway like a pup, chased off a few Canadian Geese, then laid down to pant and slobber on my feet.
I didn’t have to measure it off. I know the distance. It was pin high with the front lip of the trap, and that is exactly 263. Good enough. We went back to the house. I bounded in, chest all puffed out.
Marfar greeted me in the kitchen. “Care for an Arnold Palmer?” (Half sweet tea, half lemonade.)
“Sure ’nuff. Hit it like Arnie today.”
“Did you clear the eunoymus bush?” (I suspect she knew.)
“Yep. When I was a boy Dad would say, ‘Son you hit that one just like Arnie.’”
“Aw, honey, you hit ‘em like Arnie all the time.” A good white lie can make a marriage very strong. In fact, I think Daniel Boone’s wife did some of that.
I turned up my drink. The ice cubes crackled and the condensation gathered on the outside of the glass. “Hard to beat an Arnold Palmer in the summer.”
Maybe msslightly is right. I can’t be but so old. If I can still hit a ball past the eunoymus bush, and my Marfar thinks I’m somewhere in between Arnold Palmer and Daniel Boone I must be doing something right. (More likely she is.) I believe I’ll leave hitting into the wind to Hogan, though. He’s tougher than me.