Archive for the ‘golf’ category

Loyalty- A Slamming Sammy Snead story

February 27, 2011

        This story was from a long time ago. (you’ll know by the dollar figures) It may be paraphrased some, but it still makes the point. 

         Sam Snead played Wilson golf clubs as long as I can remember, maybe all his adult life. When I was a kid we all used Wilson clubs. I had a set of Arnold Palmers, but I had a Sam Snead Blue Ridge 7-iron ’cause my uncle lost the one with Arnie’s name on it, and the local hardware store didn’t have a match.

       To cut down on expenses Snead often traveled with another pro. I think his name was Johnny Revolta. Revolta was a fine player, but not quite the marquee name of Sam Snead.

        So the story goes, one of the executives called Snead into his office one day and said, “Sam, we don’t think you ought to be on the road with a pro who isn’t on the Wilson Staff.”

        Sam said, (paraphrased) “Well sir, I always represent Wilson to the best of my ability, and I sure appreciate that five thousand dollars a year you send me to do so. But I have to tell you I can’t let you choose my friends for me.”

        They decided they didn’t want to lose Sam, and let it drop.

        I was impressed. If a fellow that would stand by his friends like that and take a chance on losing such an enormous sum of money he must be a good man. I always have admired loyalty.

        I’ve tried to conduct my life that way too. A few times I got pretty far out on a limb, but never got it sawed off behind me so it’s all worked out okay so far. Ever so often they’d hack a little, but they always stopped sawing after they were given a chance to think on it. Maybe they figured if they caused old Dr. B to break a leg and anyone found out it’d be bad PR.

        I know this. I still think of Sam when I see a set of Wilson golf clubs and dream maybe somehow I could ever swing like him on the right day. I don’t know who that executive was but I’ll give even odds he couldn’t break 90. Every so often I run across those clubs in the basement, and I always think how lucky Wilson was to have Sam Snead on their staff. 

        And if they were still alive I wouldn’t bet against a team of Sam Snead and Johnny Revolta; those cats could play.

        I bet a hundred years from now folks will still remember the graceful golf swing of Slamming Sammy Snead, but my guess is that mid level executive’s name is lost to history, and I’m certain no one cares how much money he piled up, either.

Dr. B

Quote For The Day

February 23, 2011

        I think this came from the Army Corp of Engineers. Sometimes it applies to the doctor gig.

        “The difficult we can do immediately; the impossible will take a day or two.”

        I’m off today. The quote applies to golf too, but there it makes no difference. I’ve never understood guys who curse and throw clubs. To me it’s just a walk in the park. When I have folks dying of cancer, I can’t take the game seriously.

        With a grandchild on the way I hope to teach ‘em a little golf, but I don’t want them to be too worked up over it.

Dr. B

Bookie (Pronounced Boo-Key)

August 18, 2010

        The best thing about my writing is all the new friends I’ve met. Someone read the golf passages in “The Mandolin Case,” and wanted to introduce me to a character named Boukie (pronounced Boo-Key) Murdock. “Doc,” they said. “I promise you there ain’t but one Boukie in the world. There ain’t another one like him.”

        They were right. Boukie is 6’1′ and about 230. He walks with a limp after a scaffolding collapsed at a construction site in the 80s. He lost his left eye years ago. (It wasn’t a fight; he got hit by golf ball.)

        Here is my warning. Do not be fooled. Boukie is past Medicare age, but still can drive the ball 260 yards. He holds scores of course records and has 13 hole-in-ones. Unless you have played professional golf your entire life I would not play Boukie for more than a  hot dog and I would only do that if you just want to see a good game and buy the man’s lunch.  That swing is as sweet as maple syrup.

        He kinda reminds me of Snookers Molesby. My matches with Snook were just one extended golf lesson for Doc punctuated by a perpetual cheeseburger plan for my old buddy.

        Before I met up with Boukie I did my usual background check. The last time I played the choose-up at River Run I went out to the practice range and asked the boys, “You guys know a cat named Boukie?”

        Snook stopped mid-swing. “Boukie Murdock? Doc, you ain’t gambling are ya?”

        “Naw, Snook. I know better.”

        “Well, it’s a good thing. You’ve got some game, but you can’t hang with Boukie. He’s the only cat within three counties I gotta play straight up. Used to run with that Crump fellow out of Charlotte.”

        “Yeah, I remember Crump. Heck, Trevino only gave him a shot a side when he was in town at Quail Hollow.”

        “Right.”

        Boukie is a gambler, but he’s not a hustler. There’s a difference. A hustler tries to sandbag you, and get shots he doesn’t deserve. A gambler will tell you straight up; he wants a money game and he can play.

       Again, don’t bet more than a hot dog. Boukie’s been known to play for a house. And by the way, I wouldn’t play gin with him or shoot pool either. I haven’t seen him shoot pool, but I can just tell. His nephew used to own a pawn shop and pool hall before he retired, and I understand Boukie always hung out there when he wasn’t on the golf course.

          I don’t know everything, but a man is best off to stick to what he knows to make a living. A doctor ain’t gonna whup a guy with one eye named Boukie. I’m glad he’s my friend. 

Dr. B

Aim Towards the Trouble And Fade Away

March 20, 2010

       They say golf has lessons for life.  If nothing else, it is a game where an old guy can hang with a young one if he has enough sense to keep his head on straight.

        We have one hole at River Run that looks straight forward. It isn’t.  You almost can’t hit it far enough right to get out-of-bounds. If you are in by even a foot, the slope will send the ball back towards the fairway.

        There’s only one problem.  If you hit a draw (right to left shot) and over-cook it even a little it will keep going left.  Eight times out of ten the ball will wind up in a deep gully on the left side of the fairway.

        Instead hit a power fade. (left to right)  It is a shot I learned from Martin Taylor. You take dead aim at the hazard and hit towards it. Just as the gully thinks it has lured you in, your ball will take a gentle turn to the right, hit in the fairway, and stop after a couple bounces.  It won’t run away with you ’cause it will be buffered by the same slope that would have led your hook to trouble. (As Lee Trevino once said, you can talk to a fade but a hook won’t listen.)

       I tell you this not to write about golf, but for two reasons. One is to say that golf is indeed much like life. You have to use your brain to negotiate your way around trouble. The other is so when the non-golfer reads “The Mandolin Case” they will understand some passages that might go right by the reader who has never read my blog.  If you’ve been loyal enough to read all my stuff before the book comes out, you deserve a leg up on the others. 

        Yep, golf does reflect life. When trouble comes your way, you have to look it right in the eye and stare it down. Then, like a matador with a cape take a step to the right just at the last moment. The bad guys will crash almost every time.

        At the same time, only let them get a glimpse. Don’t hit close enough for ‘em to read the “Titelist” as it goes by. I hit a Martin Taylor fade the other day and wound up center cut. I walked by the gully; tipped my hat, smiled and bid it a good day.

       I’ll have to dodge that gully again and I wasn’t gonna piss it off too bad. No use cussing it if you can dodge it. 

        Oh, I almost forgot to tell you how to hit the shot.  Take your grip and down look at it on the club.  If more than 2 1/2 knuckles show on your left hand, turn it to the left every so slightly.  (Remember golf is like life; backwards. Turn your left hand to the left to hit the ball right, right?) Then set up with your feet pointed left of the sprinkler line.

        Golf’s much like dancing. Think rhythm, as is Lawrence Welk. (A one and a two and a…)  Then all you gotta do is swing along the line of your toes and imagine tossing a bucket of water out to the right and not back over your shoulder. 

        Trust me, the ball will curve from left to right.  Just don’t double cross it. That’s a no-no. That’ll put you deep in the gully and they’ll get you for that every time.

Dr. B

Army Golf

September 11, 2009

        First off, let me update you on Australia Sam. They had to put his surgery off till Monday.  I think it was due to exhausted surgeon syndrome.  As much as I know they hate to wait, I’m glad the surgeon was up front.  If he’d been up all night, it’s best to rest and then go again Monday AM.  Y’all keep up the prayers and I will update you then.

 

        There’s an old joke in golf.  When a man has a bad day and can’t keep the ball in play, we often call it ‘Army golf.’  (You know; “left, right, left right.”)  With that concept in mind I want to open discussions about the human brain.  What makes us work off the left vs. the right side?  More important, how can we learn to tap into both?

        This will take more than one post, but I’m gonna start with golf.

        Once I had a patient who was a brilliant man. He was a true rocket scientist.  I had all respect for him, but he was a hemi-hypertrophied left brain man if there ever was one.

        He’s forever bring me complicated mathematical formulas he’d derived to adjust his Coumadin dose.  The only problem was they didn’t work.  Coumadin adjustment has always been more art than science, a fact that distressed the man to no end.

        When you’d talk to him about blood clots you couldn’t say, “Well brother, think of it like the difference in a river and a mill pond.  All that junk won’t grow on a rapid river but the water on the pond just sits there, and vegetation can fluorish.  Your circulation is slower now, and when that blood pools up it makes for a good place for blood to clot.”

        He’d look at me funny every time.  It was an indication he didn’t know whether to trust a man of science who talk such as that, so I’d proceed to go on and on about the latest theories on endothelial cell dysfunction and platelet aggregation.  Then he was satisfied.  As for me, I liked the mill pond analogy better, but the other was the latest hip thing he might have read in ‘Scientfic American’ and it suited his style better.  It is always best to know your audience, and play their tune.    The only practical value for me was it helped me fill in more correct bubbles on my Boards.

        Anyway, my rocket scientist patient decided he was gonna take up golf.  I advise most folks past fifty who are as left brain-ed as this man to take two weeks off then quit, but he was insistent.  He wanted to come out and watch me hit some balls one day, so I gave in.

        I recalled a surgeon friend who took a stab at the game in middle age.  He was very left brain dominant, and also a man I respected highly; one I would let operate on me or my family in a minute.  After a few tortuous years, one day he threw his clubs down and said, “I’m just too d@#^ smart to play this game.”  The man was right.  He just couldn’t let his right brain take over even for a day.

         My rocket scientist pal joined me on the range one Wednesday.  I was a beautiful sunny Carolina spring day.  A few clouds drifted overhead, and a pilot buzzed around in a Piper Cub.  Some birds rode the wind.

        “Let me warm up,” I said.  I tossed a bit of grass in the air, and made a very rough calculation of the wind, more out of habit than necessity.  I closed my eyes for a minute and tried to recall the old days with Snookers in  high school when we had not a concern in the world.  I began to hit  some wedge shots.

        After my back was limber, I moved on to a driver.  Trust me, I am no great golfer, but as a 7 handicap I can play enough to fool the uninitiated.  I hit a few draws.

       He watched intently for a while, then spoke.  “I notice as you project the ball it tends to ascend and then just before the the apogee it curves from the three o’clock positon back to the mid-line.”

       “Yes sir.  They call is a draw.  When Billy Casper hit the tour his shot was a big draw; more like a hook.  Sam Snead watched him and said,”I know a man can hit a ball like that, but I don’t know why he’d want to.”

       My patient didn’t even hint at a smile and remained in deep concentration.  “I notice the ball has a number of circumferential small indentations.” 

       “Yes sir, they are called dimples.”

       “My interpretation is to achieve the desired trajectory, and for it to be repetitive, one must impart the correct amount of spin by delivering the strike to the ball in a consistent fashion.”

        “Yes sir, something like that.”

        “Hm.  I notice your left thumb is slightly right of a vertical position, approximately three millimeters of deviation from midline.  I assume this results in a slight closure of the striking surface as it contacts the ball.  Is that how you generate the required torque to accomplish this repetitive flight pattern?”

       “Hm. Well not exactly.  I ain’t no great golfer, but I just try to set up a bit closed and think draw.  Sometimes the image of tossing a bucket of water over my left shoulder helps.”

        “Beg your pardon?” 

        Oh yeah, I thought.  I forget he wasn’t that big on a water analogies.  He came out of the space program.

        He stuck with it about two weeks.  The man was retired and had plenty of time on his hands.  I’d go by on my way to work and there’d he be studying that grip and doing his best to calculate a formula that might conquer an impossible game.

        I saw him a month later.  “How’s the golf going?” I asked.

       “I gave it up.  It is not a reasonable game for a man of science.”

        “I agree, John.  I think you’re too d#^%^d smart play that game.”

        He smiled.  We had connected.  He was my patient all the way until he moved to Florida, and brought me scientific articles to read just as regular as some folks bring tomatoes.  They were quite good, and my left brain and his got along fine.  I’m glad he didn’t take up the mandolin though.  Somehow I don’t think it’d a worked out.

Dr. B

Note:  I finished this post before I realized what day it was.  God bless all the victims of 9/11.  -Dr. B


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