Preacher, The Golf Hustler

        After I got to know preacher a little better, I found out we had more in common than what I assumed.  Both of us had grown up in the South.  We loved sports and books.  He could play a little guitar, and had a strong voice, especially on the gospel numbers.

        In was in golf, though, where we shared the strongest bond.  We were both smitten early, but then our paths diverged.  I became a decent player, but realized right quick I’d better find me a day job.  Preacher on the other hand, had some real talent, and a hard choice to make.  I think the Good Lord gave him that much game so when the time came to give it up to be a minister, he would know for sure it was a genuine sacrifice.

        After college in Alabama, he played the Space Coast Tour in Florida, and hustled some golf on the side.  He finally told me about those days, and how he later redeemed himself.  It was quite a tale. 

        As I mentioned, we both loved to read.  One day he asked me if I had ever heard of Titanic Thompson, the depression era golf hustler.  We traded tales for hours- I knew all about it, ’cause I had checked the book out of the Harnett County Library as a kid dozens of times.

        Preacher used to pull those schemes all over Florida and south Georgia.  Tricks right out of the Titanic play book I tell ya.  One night he and a couple of Space Coast boys were going to Augusta to watch a practice round at the Masters when they passed a road sign- Augusta 27 miles.

        The way the preacher tells it, he’d be the driver, and would turn to his partner riding shotgun.  “Hey Bogey, I’m tired.  How much further is it to Augusta?  I’m about to fall out, lets pull over and get some sleep.”  Of course, Bogey was in on the scam.

        “Shoot fire, boss.  We gotta be fifty miles.”

        Preacher turned to Billy in the back seat.  “We’re gonna pull over and check the map, Billy boy.  We’d better stop for the night.  I don’t think I can make it in.”

        “What you boys talking ’bout?  It’s just twenty-seven miles.”  Billy was sure, ’cause he had just seen the sign.  Let’s get on down the road,”  Billy protested.

        Bogey spoke up.  “Twenty-seven, like hell.  I know this road like the back of my hand,  It’s every bit of fifty, might be seventy-five.”  Bogey was confident, and Preacher nodded in agreement.

        Well, they’d argue with Billy, and tell him he didn’t know what he was talking about.  Pretty soon, Billy had ’em turn around and drive back to the road sign.  “See, you old fools.  27 miles.  Now do ya’ believe me?” 

        By then, they’d had a few beers, and Bogey would tell Billy the Highway Department didn’t know what they were doing either, and shoot fire, they’d bet fifty bones it was at least thirty-five miles in.  Preacher agreed.  Billy got mad and took ’em up on it.  They’d they wrote down the odometer mileage, drove on into Augusta, and it was- you guessed it- thirty-five miles on the nose.

        Billy didn’t know what happened, but the night before Bogey and the Preacher dug up the road sign and planted it precisely thirty-five miles shy of the Augusta city limit sign.

        In golf circles, they say if a man tries to bet you he can have his buddy hold open the door of the golf shop, hit a one-iron off the carpet of the 19th hole, hook it into the first fairway, and make par, you’d better think twice.  He’s probably figured out some way to do it.  I think Bogey and Preacher were them sort of fellows in their day.

        Preacher has long since given up those stunts, but he ain’t above betting on golf.  Just nowadays, he has a different motive.  He’ll go out, not let on as to his line of work, and get to betting these good old boys.  Then he turns up the heat in slow increments, until he is just a notch above what they can handle.

        They all get mad, and cuss and carry on, and about then he tells them he is a preacher.  That finishes ’em off for the day.

        Then he gives them an opportunity for redemption.  “Boys, you can have all your money back, less ten percent for the collection plate that is, if you come to church Sunday.  Otherwise I’m gonna put it in the bulletin I kicked your tail.  Wouldn’t look too good to get whupped by the preacher, you know.”

        I reckon he is the only preacher I know who has paid folks to come to church, but it works.  Several of the choose-up boys are regular members, and the group even moved their Sunday tee-off time till 1:00.  And, Preacher is good for his word.  He tells the congregation those boys are some of the finest golfers in town.  They are good.  They just ain’t as good as Preacher.

        Preacher never lets on he ever whupped them.  For a long time I thought he was being nice, but one day I realized he couldn’t afford to blow his cover, ’cause then he wouldn’t be as effective.  Besides, I’m not sure what the Ladies Bible Study Group would think of the Parson out there on the golf course, mixing it up with the boys.  Somehow I am not sure they would approve of him hustling golf for the Lord, so I ain’t gonna tell ’em, and I hope you won’t either.

        But, let me warn you.  If you run up on a distinguished middle aged gentleman who looks like he could be a minister, and he has a caddie named Bogey with a cast on his right arm….

Dr. B

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4 Comments on “Preacher, The Golf Hustler”

  1. pandemonic Says:

    Sounds like you’re in the company of ringers. I guess you really can’t judge a book by its cover, can you?

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Can’t always for sure but ole Dr. B is an open book- 6 shots straight up at home, but handicap doesn’t quite travel to that away- better keep my day job. -Dr. B

  3. Susan Says:

    Besides, I’m not sure what the Ladies Bible Study Group would think of the Parson out there on the golf course, mixing it up

    A few years ago I was president of the Ladies’ Bible Study Group. If you knew what went on there, you wouldn’t be a bit worried about a simple preacher with a golfing fetish.
    Susan

  4. drtombibey Says:

    Ms Susan,
    As a Doc, I have learned a lot from my patients. As a writer, I can see I am going to learn much from my readers. I hereby dedicate my next post (Wed am) to romance writers in general, and you in particular. (Read the whole post before you give up on me!)

    -Dr. B


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