Posted tagged ‘golf’


February 23, 2012

        Tis almost here. I hear spring peepers tonight and banjo frogs too. A balmy breeze wisps by my ears; not a smidge of chill to it. As Russell Moore used to sing in “I’m Leaving Detroit,” ‘I’m going where those southern breezes blow.’ (Me, I get to stay here.) Little springs of green have begun to sprout and the birds wake me up in the mornings. I believe they are bluegrass birds; they seem to sing in three-part harmony.

        I went out this evening to hit some shag balls. It doesn’t even resemble golf, but it is still fun to be out in the sun and the breeze. It reminds me of when my boy was young and would go out with me at dusk to hit a few. He was  a quick study and was good at the game in a few seasons. Like music it’s best to start young. He doesn’t remember not being able to play. Hm. Maybe I’ll be struck with youthful exuberance and somehow learn the game again. Tonight’s wild shot dispersion reminded me of the days of youth when I took up the game. (around 12 or 13 years old.) Hey, I can still be a kid for a while!

        Before the sun sets I sit on the back porch with my wife, have a Coke float, and pick on the banjo. (Just loud enough for my own amusement but not enough volume to bother the neighbors). I’m such a simple man; simple things made me perfectly happy and content. As my daughter always said, “Daddy, you’re so simple you’re complicated to people.”

        Y’all have a blessed spring. It is almost here. Say a prayer for our recently departed here at home who didn’t get the luxury of one more season.

Dr. B


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

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.”


        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

Not a Bad Day (Golf with the Hawg)

November 4, 2009

        I’ll be back with more on the Negotiator next post, but I had to tell you about today first. 

        The Negotiator called first thing in the morning to say he’d struck a fair deal for two parties; his specialty.

        I drew the Hawg in the choose-up; always a good sign.  We played Little League ball together.  Hawg was an athlete, I was a student.  I knew I’d better get good at books as soon as I saw his fast ball.  Thank goodness we were on the same team.  Hawg played AAA ball, I became a doc.  His brother (little hawg) played the PGA tour; Hawg is almost as good at golf as his brother. 

         I was a ‘C’ man today, and shot 79.  I hit one in out of the fairway and made an eagle.  The sun was in our eyes so none of us saw it go in, but it was in the hole when we got to the green.  We barely won the front but Hawg got warmed up and shot four under on the back, and we ran away with it. 

        It’s always good to have good friends.  If the Hawg shows up half drunk, chain smoking, and wobbly, and even if he’s gotta drag around some skinny old country doc who only plays on Wednesdays, still put your money on him; he’s a player.  I took a bunch of mad money home to Marfar and it made her happy.

       I went to the dentist and didn’t have any cavities, reviewed a CD from an artist friend I think a lot of, and came home and read some Mark Twain.       

        Not a bad day.

An Old Golf Pal

October 17, 2009

       I met him the first day of med school.  He had on a frayed ‘Titlelist’ hat.  “You play?” I asked.

       “A little.”

       “What’s your handicap?”

       “Med school.”  He laughed out loud.  “”We won’t play much here.”

        “I’m sure you’re right.”

        And we didn’t.  I studied like a wild man, and made a touch better grades, but Robert did well.  He was smarter and didn’t have to work as hard.  He found time to play a few chess tournaments and was a Grand Master kind of player.  He was always laid back.  “We aren’t here forever, B,” he’d say.

        The first time we played I noticed a one iron in his bag.  Lee Trevino always said beware of a man who carries a one iron.  Robert was All-Conference in high school and a good two shots a side better than me.  We always argued over whether I’d get four shots or three for our matches.  Our standard bet was for a hot dog, an important item in med school.  He said I always clipped him, but I recall it was the opposite.  We played a little muni where you could walk for five bucks.  I still recall how good those hot dogs were.  They turned them slow on a rotisserie type cooker in the pro shop, and they had great chili.

        Golf requires at least some time and money.  We had neither, but we played a little anyway.  One time he invited me and Marfar to his folk’s house for the weekend.  They lived in Morehead City, and his mom had connections and got us on at Cherry Point.  We played thirty six holes in one day.  It was a crisp Carolina fall day; his favorite golf weather.   I don’t recall who won and it doesn’t matter.  After the match we went to his mom’s house, and she fed us all.  There were big thick steaks, lobster, baked potatoes, bowls of corn on the cob slathered with butter, and lots of sweet tea.  Mercy.   Afterwards everyone told a bunch of tall tales and played cards.  

        When we graduated, Robert matched in a residency program in Florida.  “I gotta chase the sun just a little B.”  He kept a two handicap and played chess.  He took his time as a Doc; the kind of fellow who’d pull up a chair to listen.  His patients loved him.

        We hadn’t been out of school a decade when Robert got sick.  I heard about it and invited him up to our Member Guest.  At first he protested.  “Man, I can’t help you.  I’ve got no game.”

       “Heck man, after all those hot dogs I had to buy you surely you aren’t gonna turn me down.”

        “Hm. Seems I was the one who bought all the hot dogs.”

        I talked hin into coming. My kids were too young to remember the old days, and were still little children when he visited that weekend.  He brought them presents.  They were taken by this gentle giant who told all the funny stories.  He was 6′ 8″ but had fallen off his old weight by forty pounds.  They could have cared less he wasn’t a player anymore and it didn’t matter to me either, except I hurt for him.

     We played two days, and neither of us acted like anything was different.  We bought our team in the Calcutta, but the boys didn’t run up our price.  He could barely hit it 200 yards, and there was no longer a one iron in the bag.  He sunk a few putts and we’d yell like school boys.  We knew we had zero chance to win, but we didn’t say it.

        A year later he was gone.  I took the train to Florida and played the blues on my mandolin the whole ride.  Robert used to tell me some of his happiest days were in high school on the golf team.  He’d get out of class early and they’d give him a sleeve of brand new Titleists.  He didn’t see how life could be any better.

      I played the Member Guest with Cuz today, and we had a good run of it.  It was cold and rainy and the wind blew.  Some of the guys griped, but I just can’t complain about the weather.  I am sure Robert would have loved to had a few more days regardless of the temperature.  I seldom play a round of golf that I don’t think of my old pal, and cherish every day I have here on Earth. 

       When I came in after my round my nose dripped, my ears were red, and my toes tingled, but Marfar had on a pot of soup and her best steak fries in the oven.  I am certain I will recover without difficulty.  I have no idea why such a good man as Robert has to go so early and leave behind a wife, a child, and a sister he loved so much.  In Heaven, I suspect he has a new sleeve of Titleists every day.  He sure does deserve them.  I had three birdies today, and I bet he had four.  In fact, I bet I’ve already run up a hot dog tab that’ll take an eternity for me to get back to slick again.  (that’s golf talk for even)

        Wait on me old pal, and when I get there I need three a side.  I am sure you’ve had a lot of practice.

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

Putting Practice With Arnie

June 11, 2009

        When I was a kid, Arnold Palmer was our hero.  We paid extra attention to the Masters in the even years, ’cause he always won then.  We were mad they hadn’t kept the PGA a match play event.  Everyone knew no one could beat Arnie one-on-one.

        Mr. Palmer turns 80 on September 10.  The USGA has set up a message board so anyone can send him a birthday greeting and a favorite Arnold Palmer memory.  Given that Arnie has answered every piece of fan mail sent his way since 1950 something, I thought that was the least we could do.  I sent in one about putting practice with Arnie.  If y’all have some favorite Arnie stories, I hope you will send them in too.

        The link is:

        Here is my blip on his radar:

        An imaginary sports announcer droned in the background.  “Folks it’s Arnold Palmer to win the Masters.  This crowd is hushed.”

        I’d stand over the putt knock-kneed, as much like Arnie as I could.  I’d draw back and putt, and then agonize.  Was it gonna go in?  Plunk!  “Yes. Yes!  Arnold wins again!!”  the announcer would shout. 

        Then I’d putt another ball.  This time it was Casper.  The announcer would speak again.  “Billy Casper for the Masters, folks.”  If the ball got ready to drop, the imaginary announcer suddenly would say, “Wait. Wait a minute… No, sports fans.. I’ve made a mistake!  That was Arnie.  It was Arnie!  Arnie wins again.” 

        I made a bunch of putts and I missed a bunch too, but in my putting practice Arnie never lost.

Dr. B

Daniel Boone and Arnold Palmer on Golf

May 31, 2009

        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.

Dr. B

Lousy Golf and a Good Woman’s Love

April 22, 2009

        If y’all have never heard John Cowan sing ‘A Good Woman’s Love,’ you need to.  I don’t see how a man could take his wife for granted if he listened to it real close.  When Cowan wails out that one, I feel his pain.  The old boy would be lost without her.

        I played golf today.  It was a lousy 83 in a twenty-five mph wind, but we won a three way split on the back nine.

        I always put my winnings on the table.  “How’d you do?”  Marfar asked.

      “83,” I mumbled.   “Fifteen bucks is all we won.”

       “83 in that wind?  I think that’s great.  I’ll take Betty Jo to lunch tomorrow.  I’m gonna tell her you’re the best.”  She picked up the three fives off the table, put them in her pocket, and kissed me on the cheek.

       I brightened up.  Maybe I’m too old to rassle the rangatang at the County Fair or even hit that bell with the sledgehammer and win her a teddy bear, but she’s smart enough to know I still need to have a little bit of boy in me and bring home something for my girl.

         Maybe fighting the elements on the links to bring home lunch money ain’t the same as a caveman who bags a woolly mammoth, but it’s all I’ve got.  Thanks goodness she lets me pretend.  It beats the heck out of checking in to the Nursing Home just yet.  

         I guess we all interpret music based on our personal soundtrack, but when I hear John sing that one, I know he has to be referring to my Marfar.  Just has to be; ’cause there ain’t another one like her.

        Somehow I feel good about not breaking 80 today.   If she thinks it’s good, it must be so. 

Dr. B

Golf Doc

April 7, 2009
        I have been asked for a picture without glasses.  This is the only one I could find.  I think it was around 2000.  We got sunburned in a golf tournament, but we won.   
Doc ten years ago

Doc ten years ago

        This picture is worth 957 words.
Dr. B