FAIRWAYS

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Chapter 11—If you Love it, it’s not Work

It’s Sunday, noon time and the front nine of the course is empty. Everybody is having their special Sunday lunch. Jim and Pat are on the course playing with and training the beverage service dogs. The dogs look spiffy, official, and entirely professional in their work-vests Lani had made. Pat tries out the ultrasound whistle Willie gave him on the dogs. He will distribute the whistles to the golf carts after he displays posters with instructions for use.

After lunch, Jim picks up the three Holleys and bring them for a visit to their new home on Broad Oaks. They don’t know much about it, but they know that Willie is willing to let them live in the old brick shed he is renovating.

Pat and Lani are on the range. Upon arrival, Jim leads the guests to Lani and Pat. Together they start toward the Angus’ House and show them new construction materials in the metal shed. This shed area will be their day room after it gets insulated, roof, and walls.

Pat tells them about the team of girls, the decorators, and their decision.

“They selected a bone-color linoleum floor with ash gray speckles, easy to maintain. The outside panels will be bone-white and the roof a terra-cotta-red color metal roof.”

Jasmin is speechless. She takes pictures to document the event. Isa is excited about everything, and Cliff loses his cool when he finds out that the loft will be his space.

While climbing the ladder, Lani tells him that on Monday, he’s also getting a dormer with a large window.

“Cliff, you’ll have your bed here, and here, under the window, between two storage closets, your desk. You’ll have here a small, half-bath with a pedestal sink and toilet. There’ll be a raised saddle at the door, and you can use the whole bathroom for a quick sit-down shower. Just remember to watch your head.”

“Wow,” this is great. I can hardly believe it. Father Murphy, this morning, was right. God works in mysterious ways,” says Cliff. “But I’ll be forever indebted to you. HE worked though you, guys. Thank you.”

They climb down, and Cliff goes to Jasmin.

“Mom, this is so cool. My space upstairs will have everything. I love it. I know Dad would, too.” He stops and he regrets at once having said those last words.

Isa let’s go of her mom’s hand, turns around, and walks away.

Jasmin is overwhelmed by emotions. Her soul is full of sadness, pain, fear, anger, loneliness, curiosity, hope, humility, shame and gratitude. Yes, that’s it, gratitude.

“We are so grateful. I don’t know how we can ever repay you.” Jasmin is used to crying lately, but these are tears of gratitude.

Lani puts an arm over Jasmin’s shoulder and leads her out in the sun. They walk a few steps, and Jasmin asks Lani to stay back with her for a chat.

Jim, the children, and the dogs go ahead. When they are alone, Jasmin says, “You know, Lani, I start a temp job in June for the summer, and I hope to do well enough, so they keep me full time. For now, I work nine to five every day at the homeless shelter for minimum wage and some food. I clean the shelter, wash dishes, and serve food at the soup kitchen. I didn’t tell the kids because I don’t want them to be embarrassed. I’m not ashamed to work, but they would not understand how with a college degree, all I can do is be a cleaning person.” Jasmin starts crying again.

“Oh, Jasmin, you are breaking my heart. Are they treating you all right at work?”

“Yes, they do and appreciate my work. I am a hard worker, you know. I just don’t want the kids to know now. I’ll tell them later.”

“Jasmin, of course—” Lani says, but Jasmin continues.

“I am also registered in classes over the Internet. I am missing credits for a teaching degree, and I am working on that in the evenings. I have some ideas. Seeing the enthusiasm of these girls at decorating the house, I would like to start three programs at the community center. One for decorating, one for fashion design, and one for artistic black and white photography.” Jasmin’s face lights up, speaking about her plans, and the tears dry away.

“You have enormous potential and ideas, girl. Jim is a graphic designer. He may be able to help you. He asked me to find out what you plan to do with all the photos you take?” Lani asks, as they get up from the bench and walk to join the others.

“The first phase is a secret and a surprise for the kids, but I am considering a display in the Broad Oaks Center’s art gallery a show called Work from the Heart.”

“Wow, I love your ideas, make sure you let us know, we want to see the exhibit. Jim is in the business—in a way—talk to him.”

“Thank you, I may take you up on that, Lani.”

Jasmin smiles as they catch up with the others.

“Do you need any information from me? We don’t have much, but we live now in a small three bedroom, furnished.”

“You’re right. A list of what you want to bring with you and their sizes will be extremely helpful,” Lani says.

The whole group is standing in the sun chatting when a visiting golfer approaches them.

“Hi, I’m Logan Brown.” He shakes hands with the adults and greets the youngsters. I am a K-9 officer, and I talked to Willie about the dogs’ uniforms and construction work. He told me a little of what is going on. I would like to help in my own way. I don’t have the time because I’m training a new pup for work. I would love to gift the Clubhouse and Cliff with my old and retired dear service dog, Big Bertha. I am gone a lot, and training a new pup takes long work hours every day. Big Bertha feels left out and she doesn’t get the attention she needs.”

“You are giving her to me? Cliff, not sure he got this right, touches his chest with the tip of his fingers.

“Yes, and for the Clubhouse to feed and pay her medical bills when needed. Look at this picture. Do you want her?”

Cliff, cheeks flushed and flashing eyes, turns to Jasmin and asks her, “Mom, may I have her?”

Jasmin smiles and nods. For years, she blamed her resistance to letting the kids have a pet on ‘apartment building living.’ Soon, that will no longer be the case.

“I think BB—it’s short for Big Bertha—will be a fine watchdog for the construction site, meanwhile. Willie will see to it that she is cared for until you move in. I’m bringing her in half an hour.”

Logan leaves. Cliff hugs his mom, and Willie, pleased, watches the scene from one of the restaurant windows.

*

Big Bertha is a big girl. As fit as she is, one would never guess she is nine years old. When Ingo meets Big Bertha, he sits several yards in front of her and mumbles something in doggish. The big girl sits, and Ingo goes to her, gets up on his hind legs, and hugs her. She licks him on the face and lays down on her back, showing her belly.

“So, I guess that’s it. BB accepts Ingo as a friend,” says Pat.

“Well, not exactly. BB accepts Ingo as a friend and boss. She is trained to show it that way. It’s a sign of submission. I wonder why she did that to a dog,” says Logan, wiping away tears under his sunglasses. “You be a good girl, take care of everybody, watch the Clubhouse, and I’ll come to visit you as often as I can.” Logan hugs her, pets her head between the ears, and leaves. BB whimpers, follows him a few steps, stops, barks once, and wagging her tail returns and sits next to Cliff.

All the humans are crying.

*

It’s Monday, the club is closed, and Ray, Tom, and one of Tom’s friends remove the old brick house’s roofing and load it for disposal in the truck. Before long, Tom drives away, and the old wood roof structure is seeing the sun for the first time in decades.

Ray, helped by Tom’s friend, installs temporary stretchers before he cuts into the old wood for the new dormer. It’s the most spectacular change of the old Angus’ House. Not long after Tom returns, the dormer is installed. The building is unrecognizable. The rest of the day, the men cover the roof and the new dormer with marine plywood and then cover it in plastic to protect it in case of rain.

Jim takes Ingo and Missy to the Angus’ House around 2 in the afternoon. They find BB sleeping in the sun, next to the metal shed and her water and food bowls.

“Ingo, I will leave you here with BB. Show her around and take Missy with you. Don’t forget to meet Pat and come home with him. Okay?

“Bow.” Of course, Ingo also nods to confirm receipt of the command.

Ingo takes BB and Missy along the cart path to the edge of the wetlands. He shows Big Bertha some of the geese and the cracked corn feed on the ground. They return to the cart path, but Ingo gets off it at times to show BB that walking in the rough is acceptable. Ingo sees some geese and tells his partners to stay. He goes around behind the geese and starts the barking pursuit toward the wetlands. With the job halfway done, Ingo stops and calls on his buddies to join him in the chase. Missy and Big Bertha do just what they saw Ingo do and come to help.

Ingo knows how to train dogs. After the successful Spy Hunt in D.C., the K-9 department hired him to help train their dogs.

When the course opens tomorrow, he’ll teach her the ropes for the beverage cart and work with her on the fore-caddie skills.

The Golf Course Service Dogs—Ingo, Missy, Bella, Ali, and Big Bertha—become known as the Black and Golds, in short, the Bee Gees.

The Pro Shop often receives calls from players asking for the help of one of the Bee Gees on such and such hole.

*

The school’s golf lessons go well, and the boys make progress. Pat, Cliff, and David also work a few times a week with Lani. Isa and the pretty Sierra join them most of the time.

It’s late April, and the boys are now hitting the ball a long way. Cliff hooks the ball while Pat and David slice the daylights out of their drives.

After school, they drop their school bags and come to the practice area. They wait for Lani to help them, as she promised, to straighten the darn ball flight.

“Hi, boys, are you ready?”

“Yes, Miss Lani,” David and Cliff respond in chorus.

“We are, but are you?” Pat asks, laughing, “We suck. No way can we put it on the fairway.”

“OK. Let’s start with Cliff, who hooks the ball. A hook is a shot that turns violently to the left—for a right-handed player. A slice is a shot bending uncontrollably to the right.”

“Oh, yes, my balls go left, especially after they reach the top, which is not as high as theirs,” says Cliff, pointing at the other two boys.

“Cliff, take a nice stance. Chin up and lower yourself to the ball, nice grip. Relax. Pull your left foot back about half the length of your shoe. Good. Keep the rest of your body in the original position and hit the ball with 80% of what you usually do.”

“It feels weird,” says Cliff, without moving his head.

“Don’t worry, it’s normal, just do a nice smooth swing.”

Cliff swings, and the ball flies much higher and straight.

“Wow.” All three boys watch the ball land, and they turn to Lani. “What just happened here?” Pat asks Lani.

“Not yet, guys. We’ll talk about it after the two of you, slicers, hit a ball.”

Pat and David grab their clubs and are waiting.

“Boys, stance, lower yourselves, nice grip, pull your right foot back. Relax and keep the rest of the body in the original address position. Now, give me an eighty per cent power swing.”

“This can’t be right,” says Pat. “I’m hitting it right as is. Now I’m going to kill people to my right on the range.”

“Relax and hit the ball.”

Pat tops the ball. David’s ball flies high and almost straight.

“Pat, please don’t try to be a clown when you address the ball. Try again. Lani recites the instruction again, and Pat hits a high and straight ball.

Lani invites the boys to sit on one of the benches at the range, gets on the fake grass mat, and starts talking to them.

“I want to hear each one of you telling me what was different in the shot you just did, compared to your regular shots.”

Cliff goes first, “It felt like it was easier to swing the club.”

“Easier, how?” Lani asks Cliff. The boy thinks but comes up with nothing.

“I’ll do your two swings, so you can see them, then try to tell me the difference.”

Lani does the typical hook swing, and then the one with the front foot pulled back.

“What a nice shot, Lani,” says Pat.

Cliff says, “In the first swing, it looked like you did it with the arms. In the second, it looked like you just turned your body, and the arms went with it.”

“Very good. That’s not it, but it’s part of it.”

“What about us?” David is dying to figure out how to stop slicing. His dad is a slicer, and David would like nothing better than to hit a straight ball.

“This is what you guys usually do.” Lani sets up typically, makes a nice turn, and from the top, she throws—ready to jump out of her shoes—the right shoulder forward to the ball. The club lags nicely, but by the time the clubhead gets to the ball, it smashes it from outside the aim line toward the inside. The ball rises toward the left—the direction the club impacts the ball—and then starts a violent right turn and ends up off the driving range, way to the right.

“Wow.” David grabs his head with both his hands. That looked to me like such a good and powerful swing. I’m lost.”

“Let me show you the new swing so you can see it. Pay attention because I am going to ask you what you saw.”

Lani sets up, pulls her back-foot back, takes a swing—which, with her right foot pulled back is more from the inside. From the top she throws her right shoulder just like the slicer boys do. However, the club is coming more from inside, the club head impacts the ball more squarely. The ball flies much straighter.

“Wow, the swing looked the same, but I don’t understand,” says David.

“Don’t torture us, Lani. What’s the scoop to bending the shot or not?” Pat is curious but also half annoyed.

“Okay, if you want me to tell you, I will, but it will help you more if I show you.” She goes to her golf bag and gets out Ingo’s tennis balls and a ping-pong paddle.

“The secret is the swing path.” The boys stare and look disappointed.

“I warned you that telling would not help. I must show you. Once you understand, it will make the difference. You’ll be able to correct yourself on the course when the ball starts to rebel and doesn’t do what you want.”

She lays a club shaft on the range mat as the aim line and a tennis ball a few inches closer to her.

She places another shaft parallel to the aim line, touching the tips of her feet and tells them it is the alignment line.

“Between the two shafts is the ‘inside.’ From aim line out is the ‘outside.’”

She has the ping-pong paddle in her right hand.

“If you come to the ball from the outside toward the inside, you’re cutting across the ball. The ball will get a sideways spin. After the ball loses some of the back spin pushing it forward, the sideways spin wins, and the ball turns right.”

Lani gets on her knees and, very slowly, applies an out-to-in cut to the tennis ball, which starts slightly moving forward and spinning to the right.

The boys, their jaws dropped, stare at the spinning tennis ball.

“OK, guys, sleep on it, and we’ll talk more another day.”

“But, Lani, what about me?” Cliff looks disappointed.

“Cliff, come here. Do what I did. But give the ball a touching rub from the inside to the outside, in this direction.” Lani shows thirty degrees to the aim line.

Cliff gets on his knees, gives the tennis ball a brushing stroke from inside out with the paddle, and sure enough, the ball starts spinning left.

“Well, Miss Lani, then how the heck does one hit the ball to go straight?” David has lost all hope and is ready to give up.

“You have to hit it ‘square.’ Come from the inside, hit it square, and go back inside after contact.” Lani picks up her golf bag and tells the boys,

“I’m sorry, I have to go now. It’s time to cook dinner.”

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