FAIRWAYS

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Chapter 9—Work Hard, Play Hard

middle of April

On Monday afternoon, the resident kids and their dogs meet on the seventh hole for the first dog-training session. David is there with the beautiful and imposing Bella, the black Labrador, and six more children showed up with their dogs. With Bella, Ingo, and Missy, the nine dogs are ready for work. Cliff and Isa don’t have a dog, but they will work with Missy.

Pat thanks them for being willing to help their dogs clear the course and save the little geese, who are in danger.

“Look, friends. Willie, our Pro, told me that one of the members hit a goose in flight with his drive and killed her on the spot. The birds need protection. Lani, my hope-to-be future mom, arranged to make a protective zone in the wetlands for them. There will be people coming to mark the wetlands. Willie is getting a big container this week for the cracked corn for the geese, and he will have the greenskeepers feed them in their new home. We need to get the dogs to chase and bark at the geese and direct them toward the preserve—” when Pat stops for a second, Alexa chimes in.

“Pat, how are we going to do that?”

“I’m going to tell you. Better yet, I’ll show you. My dog, Ingo, understands human speech. He is, in fact, Lani’s dog. He was born in Europe, and he has this gift. Watch.” Pat looks at Ingo.

“Ingo, introduce yourself to the dogs, make friends with them and tell them to make a big circle around us. Okay?”

“Bow,” Ingo nods.

“You’re kidding, Pat, right? That was Rick, with the Giant Poodle.

Before Pat responds, Ingo runs to the dogs, and while mumbling something, he starts the dog sniffing routine. While Ingo does this with all six dogs, the children watch in silence, amazed.

“This is unbelievable. Had I not seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it,” says Alexa, who’s twelve, and the Beagle’s master.

Ingo finishes and returns to Pat, while the dogs start moving around, followed by the children who have them on their leashes. Before you know it, they form a large circle around Pat, Cliff, Isa, and the two golden Cockers. Two of the kids take out cell phones and snap pictures.

“Okay, Ingo. Tell the dogs we want them to NEVER harm a bird, but to chase them away from the course to the wetlands preserve.” Pat stretches his arm in the direction of the wetlands.

“Bow.” Ingo shows he understands and does a tour inside the circle and communicates with the dogs. The dogs become a little agitated and start stirring around to look for the geese.

“Ingo, tell them NOT NOW, wait.”

Ingo stops and barks loud enough, so the other dogs hear him. The dogs calm down.

“Holy cow, this is ridiculous,” says one of the boys.

“Friends, you all know the golf course. We are on the seventh hole now. Here is a scorecard with the map of the course.” Pat hands a stack of cards to Ingo.

“Ingo, when I tell you, go to the children with the hand up and let them take each a scorecard from you.”

Ingo takes the cards in his mouth and waits.

“Who lives on the first or second hole? Please raise your hand,” Pat asks the children. Harry and Cammy raise their hands.

“Cammy, you are doing hole one and two, Harry, you do three and four—”

“Pat,” Rick interrupts, “I live on the fourth hole. I can do holes three and four. It’s easier.”

“That’s right, thanks, Rick. Then, Harry, you do holes eight and nine, which are also close to your home.”

“Cammy, raise your hand, please.” Ingo goes to her, and she takes a card.

“Rick, raise your hand please, you do holes three and four.”

And this way, the fabulous and magic Ingo distributes all the cards, leaving Pat and Cliff with Isa to do holes fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen.

The group of mesmerized children and dogs walk around a little and, on the sixth hole, they find a whole flock of geese. They stop and Pat gathers the kids. With a thick marker, he shows them on a course map in what direction to chase the geese. They all go to the side where the goose chase should start, and Pat asks Ingo to demonstrate. Ingo runs and barks. The geese start moving.

One by one, Ingo approaches each dog and runs with them to show how it’s done.

Luca and the guy cutting some low branches from the neighboring trees stop work to watch. Soon Willie’s golf cart arrives and stops by the sixth hole tee box, and he watches the training. Willie shakes his head in disbelief.

*

On Tuesday, as the school golf lesson is about to end, Lani comes to the Pro Shop to meet the old contractor and talk about the renovation work. Pat, Cliff, and Isa are outside, in the practice area with Ingo and Missy.

Willie and a big older guy are waiting in the office for her.

“Hi, Lani, let me introduce you to Mr. Raymond Dubois,” says Willie.

“Just call me Ray, Miss,” and the big and strong man with a face marked by many years of work outside shakes Lani’s hand.

“I’m Lani. Lani Bellamy.” She takes a seat at the round table in the office.

“We have been talking a little about the project. I showed Ray the paperwork and the sketches you left with me, and it looks like we can do it, but the two of you need to figure out some things. Lani, I first want to tell you that I know, I mean, I knew poor Mal Holley well. I worked with him years ago when he was just learning the trade. I will do all I can for his family. He was a good guy.”

“Thank you, Ray. I appreciate knowing that. I am an architect, but not the kind that only makes pretty pictures. I do the construction documents, supervise construction, administer the job, make schedules—” Ray cuts in and says,

“I can tell that by the scope of work you put together and your detailed knowledge of what needs to be done. It’s in your blood,” says Ray.

“Ray, you may not believe it, but I was born on a construction site. My dad was chief engineer on an industrial platform, and the workers changed my diapers.”

Willie and Ray laugh.

“I’m not kidding. Well, let me tell you how I see this job done to save time and money. Then, you tell me what and how you want to do it.”

Lani starts talking about, at first, using the metal shed for storing construction materials: structural wood, plywood, shingles, insulation, drywall, studs, window, doors, closet doors, electrical cable, piping, and fittings.

“I would like to have the materials on hand. They are safe here, no danger of theft.”

“That’s a good idea, Miss,” says Ray.

“I would like to start the wood loft in the brick house. Let’s call it from now on ‘Angus’ House.’ This will make the dormer work safer, and the whole roof-work faster.”

“You’re right about that, too.”

“Do you do both plumbing and electrical?”

“Yes, I am licensed for both. Back when I started, we all were.”

“What’s your grandson’s name?”

“Thomas, Miss, we call him Tom.”

“Well, Tom can start working on the outside. He can pressure wash the brick walls, then set up the openings for the new windows. When the wall is dry, he can seal the walls with a clear epoxy paint. We will get him some help.

“Willie, please give Ray our home phone number. They can call Jim when they need an extra man to help a little.”

“Ray, you have the plans and general dimensions. Any questions you have, just call me. Here is my card with work and cell phone numbers. Please do not guess or assume. I will come to see the site and talk to you every afternoon if you’re still here.”

“I’ll work from 8 to 12 and from 2 to 6 pm. If Willie lets me play during lunch, I can be here when you come back. I’ll need teams of two boys in the afternoon after school for light work.”

“That works for me,” says Willie.

“And for me, too.” Lani continues. “Ray, take a little time to figure out a schedule the way you want to do it and send it over. Let us know exactly when you want to start, as long as the Holleys can move in at the end of May. You can leave the outside painting of the metal shed for after the move, but it needs to be a clean and habitable residence with all services. Call me for any clarification.”

“Fine, Miss, that works for me,” Ray gets up to shake Lani’s hand, who’s ready to leave. When she is at the door, Ray adds, “I’ll bring four more hardhats for two teams of boys, but please tell their parents the boys need to wear heavy boots, gloves, and eye goggles. I don’t have insurance.”

“Okay, no problem.”

During dinner, Lani shares with Jim and Pat her talk with Ray.

“It looks like you also speak ‘contractor,’ not only ‘doggish,’” says Pat. “You are going to kick their—” Jim gives him the ‘funny look.’

“...kick their enthusiasm up a notch.” The three of them start laughing.

*

During the week, all details for the construction start are clarified. Willie comes up with funds for the materials purchases, and by the following Monday, construction starts at the Angus’ House.

Jim makes announcement posters about the construction for the Clubhouse, and Sierra organizes the girls’ flyers delivery to each of the two hundred residences in the Broad Oaks Golf Club. As a result, there is a slew of activities in progress: fundraising, boys between thirteen and seventeen and Sierra volunteering for work, raffle ticket sales, and silent auction item collections.

Each boy team of two is allowed to work a maximum of two afternoons a week, some two hours at a time, to ensure that they do not neglect their schoolwork.

Willie allows several boys to also volunteer as caddies for regular players for ten dollars per round, seven of which goes toward the renovation work.

Willie offers Cliff a permanent part-time job—twenty evening-hours a week—driving the cage cart on the driving range to collect the golf balls and rake the sand traps. If this arrangement works, it will provide the Holleys with $100 a week for the rent of the Angus’ House.

Everybody is happy to help, including the dogs.

Pat trains Ingo, Missy, Bella the Labrador, and Ali the Boxer for the beverage cart service. Lani measures them and makes them vest uniforms—orange, white, and black.

*

That Wednesday, at 4:30, when Lani’s young golf students gather on the range, Sierra and David join them. Pat had told all his guys about the chat he had with David, and they all accept him graciously.

Lani has a stack of laminated sheets in her hand. She gives each of the children a laminated, abbreviated form of the rules, in alphabetical order, so they can easily find the specific situation and rule while on the course.

“Keep them in your golf bags and study them.”

Lani shows the kids a few stretching moves, and while they do them, she tells them a story. She tells them about the magic of the game.

“The game of golf changed me and my life for the better. It helped me know myself and understand my strength and weaknesses. As a city girl and a nerd, I didn’t connect with nature for a long time. My life was books and homework. I excelled in school. When my family sent me to classical ballet and figure skating—as part of my education—I was angry and ashamed for repeatedly failing. I couldn’t win over my balance problem, which also showed its ugly head in the form of awful car sickness. I felt like a failure.

“Many years later, when I accidentally discovered golf, it struck me as being similar to real life. I learned how happy I am when I’m out in nature. I started to hear the birds, which I never had before. I noticed I am respectful of others, and it takes little to make me happy. I understood I would take honesty any day over success and that honesty and hard work will eventually lead to success. Golf taught me to take life as it comes—to take the good with the bad. Just like a round of golf, life is made of moments. I learned to enjoy the moments, not to rush through them.

“The game taught me that instincts work better than overthinking. One must go from simple to complex. Don’t start out running. Learn to walk first.”

The youngsters are all stretched out by now, and their big, round eyes are focused on Lani.

“Okay, so we start our practice routine with simple putting, then move to the slightly more complex chip shots. Then it’s on to the more involved pitch shots. Finally, we’ll go to the driving range and learn to hit the ball far. It’s going to go all over the place at first, but as we continue to learn and practice, we will straighten those ball flights.”

The kids are interested, obedient, and enjoying themselves.

That’s the whole point.

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