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Chapter 8: Don’t Drink the Water

The dog days of August were upon us and the humidity seemed to suck the life right out of people. We had seen a record setting heat wave for several weeks with the heat index well over 100 degrees. The golf course was virtually abandoned between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. I think we saw more golfers on days in November during those five hours than we had been seeing that August. A few of us would brave the heat in order to avoid the crowd, but most everyone else stayed indoors. There were a few Birdie Hunters and other assorted elderly who were so stuck in their routines that they just couldn’t stay away. Andy Pader actually got into a few arguments when he recommended that some of the old guys not play in the heat.

Hugh Cunningham had made things worse by following through on his threat to remove the drinking fountains on the golf course. The first week after the Fourth of July holiday weekend, he had the water works out on the course tearing out all of the drinking fountains. There were bright yellow dump trucks all over the golf course for two days as the backhoes smashed the drinking fountains into pieces. These weren’t the modern steel drinking fountains built for functionality. They were the original turn of the century ornamental fountains. They had circular bases made of a stone wall about three feet wide and four feet tall. There was a 12-inch-deep reservoir on top that was filled with round pebbles for drainage. Stainless steel fixtures protruded out of the pebble drain. They didn’t make drinking fountains like these any more.

Paul was so enraged that he drove out in a cart to try to stop the water works crew. He tried to convince them that they should at least leave the stone bases to be used as decorative planters. When that failed, he returned to the clubhouse and immediately called downtown to the County Park board office. He demanded to speak to Hugh Cunningham, but only got as far as his voicemail. Paul left a message strewn with his extensive vocabulary and ended with the decorative planter suggestion.

The worst part was that some of the fountains had plaques on them memorializing deceased birdie hunters. Paul went back out on the course in an attempt to retrieve the plaques, but he was told that he would have to remove them himself. The waterworks apparently did not have the right tools for the job. Paul contained his anger and used his charm to buy one hour from the crew’s supervisor. Paul immediately tracked down and enlisted the help of Harley who had access to a variety of tools and knew how to use them. In less than the allotted one hour, Paul and Harley successfully removed all seven memorial plaques. Paul brought them into the clubhouse, set them on a table near the Birdie Hunter bulletin board and proposed a toast with his beloved Makers Mark.

When the water works was finished demolishing the historic landmarks, the rubble was hauled away. Then, the water lines were capped and fill dirt was poured leaving virtually no trace of what were once very functional, very beautiful and very convenient water fountains. There would be no decorative planters and in the midst of a heat wave there was no water on the golf course.

Mark, John and I had successfully used our new-found passion for night golf as a way to beat the heat. It was the marketing achievement of the year. After all, if it was too hot to play golf during the day – why not play at night. We had weekly night golf events on each Friday and they were an instant success. The local paper and a television station each did a story on our night golf extravaganzas. Each Friday we would have a shotgun start at 10:00 PM. There were two separate tournaments all in one: a four-player scramble for those who wanted to party and a four-player best ball for those who wanted to play their own ball throughout and try to win some skins as well.

We had a quarter barrel of beer on every other tee box and paper bag candle luminaries served as tee markers and 150 markers. Long glow sticks hung from the flags to show players their target. It was a unique atmosphere that captured the fun-loving child in all who played. Paul put us in touch with an old friend of his who played the bagpipes. The guy marched the course every Friday night in full regalia wailing Amazing Grace and other traditional songs. He only stopped long enough to down a beer each time he made it to a keg. The occasional incoming or outgoing aircraft from Williams Field added to the light show.

Nate and Willie Boylan were regulars at the night golf events. Each week more and more of their friends showed up to play. What started out as an unofficial skins game soon turned into a full-fledged late night gambling festival. When the golf concluded and the official tournament was over, the diehards were just getting started.

The White Lake Clubhouse became the home to the largest regular Texas Hold ’em tournament in the area. Virtually every table in the grill was busy with cards flying across them. It got so large that poker players were showing up just to play cards after the golf was over. It was as if the golf had become incidental to the event. However, the golf did provide the perfect cover for using a building owned and operated by the county for a poker tournament. Besides, we all made a little money from the deal and sure had a lot of fun at the same time.

I spent my time taking the entry fees and playing banker to make sure everything was on the “up and up.” Mark and John on the other hand immersed themselves in the gambling. Lisa had her own side business going selling beer to the masses and cooking burgers and dogs. She would use cups, napkins, condiments and other accessories from the County’s supply at the snack bar, but she picked up meat and beer at a Sam’s Club to keep her prices down.

Andy never asked too many questions because he was making a killing himself. The extra golf revenue helped to increase his cut from the County and the publicity made him the star of the County Park District. Hugh Cunningham was pleased by what he thought was an innocent and profitable enterprise. After all, the distinguished Director of Golf was too busy with his own exploits to explore the details of our night golf events.

Cunningham had commissioned another study by his brother-in-law to find a new standard temperature for the County Clubhouses during the heat wave. Apparently 82 degrees was enough of a change to reduce the monthly electric bills by 20%. He could show the County Commissioners that he was saving the taxpayers money and earn a kick back from his wife’s brother at the same time. After managing to have all the drinking fountains on the golf course removed just in time for the heat wave, Cunningham scored the big deal for his family. His wife’s company had all the County Courses fully stocked with bottles of water ranging from $2.50 for a shot glass to $6.75 for a one gallon “Super Jug.” It seemed that his in-laws were profiting quite a bit from their connections with the director of golf.

While we had the public night golf event on Fridays, a few of us would get together on Saturday nights to play night golf the way it was meant to be played. We didn’t have any candle luminaries, but we all knew the course well enough at night by then that they were not needed. Although we couldn’t allow the public to drive carts in the dark, Mark, John, Nate and I permitted ourselves the luxury. We’d take a couple of coolers of beer and play by the moon and starlight. The only thing glowing when we played was the ball itself.

On about the Fourth Saturday in a row, we had Nate’s brother Willie Boylan and Roger Merchant from the skins game join us. We were getting pretty used to night golf and were finding ways to enjoy it as much as possible. Roger was always a nice guy to have around and the combination of Nate and his brother Willie was sure to add some excitement to our night. I had volunteered to work the closing shift at the clubhouse on Saturdays in order to provide some cover for our unofficial outings. The worst part about it was that I had to deal with Ashley calling for Mark a half-dozen times each night.

That particular night, I had made a point to keep the evening play to a minimum. I warned prospective players of the slow play that didn’t necessarily exist. The sun had just given us a break for the day and dropped below the hillside. I was trying to get off the phone with someone asking about tomorrow’s weather forecast when Nate, Roger and Willie walked in.

“Well sir, I’m not exactly sure,” I said. “But if you stay up and watch the 11:00 news, I’m sure you’ll catch the forecast.”

Nate stopped at the counter with a big grin as Willie and Roger headed over to the grill. Nate could tell I was getting frustrated on the phone so he made a talking motion with his hand to mock me. I quickly grabbed a used ball out of the bucket on the counter and threw it at him. He laughed as he turned and ducked. The ball bounced on the floor and then banged off of a few of the tables and chairs.

“What the hell is going on?” yelled Willie from the grill as I finally hung up the phone.

“That guy must have thought I had my own Doppler radar system to look at,” I said to Nate.

“You should have just told him that it was going to rain all day tomorrow,” responded Nate.

“I should have just told him that it was going to be too damned hot for his fat ass to play golf,” I responded.

“Where’re the boys?” asked Willie as he and Roger returned with two beers each. Willie handed one to Nate and Roger handed one to me.

“Mark is outside talking to Ashley on his cell phone,” I answered and took a drink of my beer. “And John is down at the range giving a lesson.”

“What the hell is John doing giving a lesson this late in the evening?” asked Roger.

“Must be some hot little number,” responded Nate.

“I think that it’s Al Harper,” I said. “John won’t give any lessons in the heat of the day. He should be finished pretty soon.”

“You guys couldn’t have had too many players out there today,” said Nate.

“No, it was pretty slow for the most part,” I said. “But you’d be amazed by how many old guys who went out and braved the heat and humidity.”

“Old people are always cold,” said Willie matter-of- factly.

“Yeah, but it’s not safe out there now that the county took out the water fountains,” I said.

“No shit,” said Nate. “There’s a damn heat emergency in effect and no water fountains on the golf course. The least the county could do is put water jugs on every other hole like modern golf courses do.”

“Then Mrs. Cunningham wouldn’t be selling her high priced bottled water,” I said.

“Ain’t that the truth,” responded Roger. “It’s pretty bad when beer is cheaper than water.”

It was then that Mark walked through the door after having finished lying to Ashley. He had her believing that we had a night golf event on Saturdays as well as Fridays. She would never allow him out at night if she didn’t think he was working. She would get angry enough if he just went out for a beer or two after work with us. I can’t imagine what she would do if she knew he was playing 18 holes with us in the dark. Nate, Willie and Roger were giving Mark some shit about Ashley calling, while I started to close out the cash register as I sipped on my beer. They traded insults for a while until they began arguing over who was the better putter with a glow ball. Within minutes, the four of them were headed out to the practice green to put their claims and wallets on the line.

It was getting dark and I began to shut down the clubhouse. I took the cash drawer back into the office to count the money and put it in the safe. I sat at the desk, licked my fingers and flipped through the stack of cash. Two hundred dollars stayed in the drawer, and the rest went into a money pouch. Once that task was complete, I got up from the desk and sat the money on top of the safe. The golf course safe was an archaic contraption that had letters rather than numbers and required some jiggling to get the tumblers to drop. It always took me a few tries to get it open. Somewhere in the middle of my second attempt at it, I heard the clubhouse door open. I figured it was one of the guys so I just continued with the counting in my head as I tried to get the combination just right.

As I pulled on the lever fruitlessly, I heard a customer’s voice call out, “Anyone back there?”

“Yeah, I’ll be right there,” I shouted.

With the pressure on me, I quickly cracked the code, pulled the lever and swung open the door. I tossed the money in the safe, locked it back up and headed out front to the counter where I found a rather large man in his mid to late 40s and his son who appeared to be about 12 years old.

“What can I do for you?” I asked.

“Hey buddy, I seem to have lost my head cover out on the back nine,” the man said. “I just need to borrow a cart so we can run out on the course and find it real quick.”

It was now officially dark and there was no way I was letting this guy and his son take a golf cart out onto the back nine with all the ravines and drainage ditches. It would be my ass if they got hurt or worse yet, damaged the cart. Besides, I was ready to get out and play some night golf.

“I’m sorry sir, but the carts are locked up and we can’t let them out in the dark,” I said. “It’s too dangerous.”

“I’ll keep it on the path,” he replied. “It will only take a few minutes.”

“We only have cart paths around the greens and tees. I’m not allowed to let a cart out in the dark. It’s a liability issue with the county. I’ll be happy to take your name and phone number and when the greens crew finds it in the morning, we’ll call you.”

The guy wouldn’t take no for an answer. He became visibly upset as he wiped his brow and huffed.

“It’s a Chicago Bears head cover that my son gave me,” he said. “It’s really important to me and I don’t want to go hiking around out there in the dark.”

“But that’s why we can’t let you take a cart out,” I replied. “It’s too dark out there.” I felt a little funny saying that knowing full well that I was planning on taking a cart out that night, but I knew the golf course. Hell, I’ve almost gotten stuck out there in the dark, so there was no way I was letting this guy and his son go joy riding. Besides, Mark and John would kill me.

“This is bullshit!” he shouted. “What the hell do we pay taxes for if we can’t get any help here? What fucking service.”

With that, he turned and walked out the clubhouse door and stood on the patio staring out at the golf course. His son, obviously impressed by the fine parenting and example his father set then took it upon himself to plead their case. I was turning off the display lights throughout the pro shop as the kid followed me.

“Please man, my dad really loves that head cover,” he said. “Can’t we put a down payment on the cart until we get back?”

“That would be a deposit,” I said as I walked back behind the counter.

“Yeah, let us give you a deposit on the cart until we bring it back.”

“We can’t send a cart out in the dark,” I replied politely. “There are ravines and ditches out there. It’s just too dangerous.”

“Come on, don’t be a jerk,” replied the kid.

I was not about to be called names by some punk kid following his father’s example, so before I lost my cool – I leaned onto the counter and very sternly but calmly said, “kid, there is no way you are taking a cart out on that golf course. Now get out of the clubhouse while I lock it up.”

The kid went running out of the clubhouse to his dad and started screaming. I was glad to be finished with him and checked the other doors. I figured that if I locked up and headed over to join Mark and the guys at the practice green, the fat ass and his loud mouth son would go home. I was wrong.

As I stepped out the clubhouse door to the patio, I was met with a verbal assault the likes I had never heard. The father was screaming at me that nobody talks to his son that way and that he ought to kick my ass.

Naturally, I responded and escalated the verbal confrontation with my own string of profanities describing his obesity and lack of intelligence in a colorful way. I had argued and traded profanity with irate customers before, but nothing had prepared me for what was about to happen.

I was trading insults with the father face to face when he suddenly reached out and grabbed me by the head. It seemed to happen in slow motion. I was so shocked that I did not react. I could feel him trying to pull my head forward into a headlock between his arm and body. I was in total fear as I felt his big meaty hands squeezing around my head. Just as I had learned to do when wrestling with my older brothers, I turned my head to an angle and slipped out of his grasp. I thought seriously about throwing a punch knowing that I had plenty of backup nearby, but I opted to keep my high ground as the victim and quickly turned and ran. As I bolted for the clubhouse door, he chased after me. I wasn’t sure what to do, but the instinct to flee to safety was directing me. I darted inside the door and turned the corner behind the counter. The guy was right on my ass and started to follow me behind the counter as I picked up the phone with one hand and a sand wedge with other. I swung the sand wedge toward him as I dialed 911. He stopped in his tracks just in time to avoid being hit by the club. Within seconds Mark, Nate, Willie and Roger burst through the door.

“911, what is your emergency?” the voice on the phone asked me.

“I’ve just been assaulted by a fat ass over a golf cart,” I replied.

“Do you need medical attention?” the dispatcher asked me calmly. I’m sure she had heard much stranger stories.

“No, just the police,” I replied. She confirmed the address, took my name and a description of the father and said someone would be right out.

By the time, I had gotten off the phone, the father had retreated out from behind the counter and was acting much less aggressive now that he was outnumbered. John arrived quickly and wanted to know exactly what happened. As I began to tell my story, the father walked out onto the patio to join his son. Mark, Roger and Willie followed him out to make sure that they didn’t leave.

“Hugh Cunningham is not going to like this,” said John.

“Screw Cunningham,” I replied. “I was attacked.”

“I know, but I better call Andy just to give him a heads up,” replied John.

“I guess that’s not a bad idea,” I said.

I walked toward the front window to look for the police as John made the call. I heard him laughing as he spoke to Andy. I guess it was funny now that I had time to look back at the incident.

When the police arrived, I was comforted by the fact that one of the officers was big Jack. Jack Kelley often played on weekends with his wife or other officers. This was a prime example of why we let police and firefighters play golf for free. I knew that I was on the right side of the law in this case, but it never hurts to have an edge.

Jack said “hi” to John and me and introduced us to his partner, Officer Ryan. Mark, Nate, Willie and Roger walked inside from the patio. They quickly took seats at the closest table to watch the events unfold.

Officer Ryan asked me to tell my side of the story and so I started at the beginning. By the time, I got to the part about the father attacking me, the peanut gallery at the table was giggling and snickering. Upon hearing the story, the police officers appeared to find some humor in the story as well.

“You grabbed this kid by the neck over a head cover?” Jack asked the father.

“I admit I made a mistake, but he was being verbally abusive to my son,” answered the father.

“I was not!” I interjected.

“Brian is not the type to be verbally abusive,” added John who could come across as very professional when he wanted.

“It doesn’t matter what he may have said to you or your son,” said Officer Ryan. “You can’t physically attack someone. That’s assault.”

Jack then asked if I wanted to press charges and of course I said that I did. Unfortunately, though, they weren’t going to take him away in handcuffs. They explained to me about some citizen mediation hearing I had to go to first. Apparently, it was an effort to solve disputes out of court but I was going to see the thing all the way through no matter how many hoops I had to jump through. This fat ass was going to be the martyr for every rude and obnoxious golfer who ever insulted a golf course employee. At least that was how I felt that night. I was pretty worked up.

The police had us sign the paperwork and then they escorted the father and son to their car. By that time, Nate had brought me over a fresh beer which was just what I needed. Now that the incident had reached a safe conclusion, the guys were free to taunt me.

“Why the hell didn’t you just kick the guy’s ass?” asked Willie Boylan.

“I was afraid that he might sit on me,” I replied.

“You should have yelled to us for help,” said Mark.

“When did you guys notice, what was happening?” I asked.

“We looked over when we heard the two of you yelling at each other,” replied Mark. “We started walking over to see what it was all about and then we saw him grab you. That’s when we all started to run.”

It was then that Jack and Officer Ryan walked back inside the clubhouse with smiles on their faces.

“Sorry to drag you guys down here for this,” I said.

“Not at all,” answered Jack. “It was a nice break from the domestic disputes.”

“That guy is crazy,” said Officer Ryan.

“Yeah, some example he set for his son,” commented John.

“So, you guys playing night golf tonight?” asked Jack.

We said that we were and invited them to hit a couple of tee shots with us. Jack informed us that he had been telling his partner all about night golf. Officer Ryan was eager to hit a glow ball so I locked up the clubhouse and we all headed to the first tee.

I found it pretty ironic that 30 minutes earlier I was being attacked by a nut who wanted to take a golf cart out in the dark to look for his head cover and now I was standing on the first tee in the dark with: three golf carts, two coolers of beer, two police officers and a bunch of glow in the dark golf balls.

“I can’t believe how well those things glow,” said Officer Ryan.

“Yeah, it’s amazing,” answered Willie.

“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” Officer Ryan asked Willie.

“Spend much time at the horse track?” asked Willie.

“No, must be from somewhere else.” replied Officer Ryan.

“Must be,” replied Willie with an uncomfortable look on his face. Then he slowly stepped away from Jack and his partner and used Mark and John as a buffer. I suspected that he must have had an unpleasant experience with Officer Ryan in the past.

John began to tee up a ball. He hated to stand around and wait.

“Watch this swing,” Jack said to Officer Ryan as John addressed the ball and waggled a couple of times.

John took a big swing and the there was the usual thud as his club made impact with the hollowed out clear plastic ball. The fluorescent green tracer streaked upward through the sky and down the middle of the fairway. He hit it so far that we couldn’t see it come down.

“Nice Shot,” said Officer Ryan

“Thanks,” said John. “Now why don’t we see what the boys in blue can do?”

“I want to see one more professional first,” said Jack.

“All right, if you insist,” replied Nate as he stepped onto the tee.

“I guess law enforcement would consider you a professional,” suggested Mark.

“Funny,” answered Nate. “Five bucks says mine will be longer than yours.”

“You’re on,” replied Mark.

“How do you tell the balls apart?” asked Officer Ryan. “We put our initials on them with a marker,” I answered.

“In Nate’s case, it’s a dollar sign of course,” said Mark.

“Of course,” said Jack. “He’s a professional.”

Nate snuck up to the ball and took an aggressive swing. The ball flew low and straight with the glowing tracer bouncing down the middle of the fairway. It was nowhere near as far as John’s because we could see the ball faintly glowing near the crest in the fairway before it begins to slope downhill.

“Nice try,” said Mark as he stepped onto the tee. “Yeah, pretty weak,” added John.

“Let’s see what you got golf pro,” Nate said to Mark who was teeing up his glow ball.

Mark calmly addressed the ball and waggled the club a couple of times. He took a smooth and simple swing obviously not trying to kill the ball. The green tracer was a beautiful sight as it rose straight over the fairway. The ball appeared to bounce very close to where Nate’s ball had come to rest. They took two very different paths, but the balls seemed to be in about the same spot.

“That’s going to be a close one,” said Jack.

“Yep, it all depends on the bounce it took,” added Roger.

“I’ve got five on Mark,” said Willie.

“No faith in me my brother?” asked Nate.

“Just going with the odds,” said Willie. “In fact, another five says I’m past both of you.”

Mark and Nate both agreed as Willie teed up his ball and made his confident and almost cocky address. He swung and hit a powerful shot with a trajectory somewhere between Nate’s low ball and Mark’s arching shot. The ball appeared to bounce close to the other two balls and then rolled over the crest and out of sight.

“I’ll just put that on your tabs,” said Willie as he walked off the tee.

Roger quickly jumped on the tee and made it clear that he was not wagering on hitting his ball past anyone. He aimed a little left and took his usual hard swing. The green tracer highlighted his pronounced slice and the ball ended up in the right rough well short of the other balls. I hopped onto the tee and also announced that I was not attempting to out drive anyone. I hunkered down over the ball and tried to clear my head of the fat asshole that had attacked me just a little earlier. I finally got the angry thoughts out of my head and took a nice easy swing. I caught the ball a little thin, but it looked like it was going to turn out all right. The ball flew low and straight rolling to almost where Mark and Nate’s balls rested.

“I’ll take it,” I said as I walked off the tee box.

“Good miss,” commented Mark.

“Time for the boys in blue,” suggested John.

“Yeah, which one of you is going first?” asked Mark.

Officer Ryan of course wanted Jack to go first since he was the better golfer of the two. Jack unbuckled his belt and handed it along with his gun and other tools of the trade to his partner. He borrowed John’s driver and stepped onto the tee.

“Does it matter which way glow stick is pointing?” asked Jack.

“Oh, here we go again,” I said preparing for another vigorous debate.

“Vertical is best,” said Mark.

“Better make it parallel to the ground if you want it to fly straight,” said Nate.

“I say parallel,” added Roger.

“I like it vertical,” commented Willie, who was still keeping his distance from the men with badges.

Jack adjusted his ball to make the glow stick parallel to the ground and then took his stance.

“You’re going to regret it,” said Mark.

“It only really matters when you’re putting,” com-mented John.

Jack addressed the ball. He swung and hit a low fade into the right rough near Roger’s ball.

“Boy, that felt weird,” commented Jack.

“And I’ve been getting tips from you?” asked Officer Ryan. Feeling some newfound confidence after his partner’s difficulty, officer Ryan trotted onto the tee and quickly teed up his ball. “I’m going with vertical,” he said with a smile. Then he took a big swing and hit a high arching slice that started out heading way left, but ended up in the fairway.

“Not bad,” said John.

“I’ll take it,” said Officer Ryan.

We tried to convince Jack and Officer Ryan to join us and play out the hole, but they were a little too professional to do that on the clock. They promised to join us on an off night and we bid farewell to the boys in blue. They walked back to their patrol car and we saddled up in our three golf carts and headed down the first fairway. I was riding with Mark as we headed to pick up Officer Ryan’s ball. Roger and Willie headed toward Jack’s ball since it was near Roger’s. John and Nate drove directly to my ball which was just short of the two glowing balls that appeared to be Mark and Nate. Before Mark and I could get there, Nate was inspecting the two balls.

“Hands off ’em!” shouted Mark as we approached.

“Relax,” said Nate. “You got me by a couple of inches.”

“And my ball is farther than yours too,” commented Mark.

“Funny,” said Nate. “It won’t happen again.

Meanwhile on the right side of the fairway, Roger was about to swing. He hurriedly addressed the ball as if trying not to hold the rest of us up. It’s an unfortunate part of golf that when you hit a bad shot, you are the first to hit again. Additionally, in the age of ready golf, the others in your group who hit better shots are generally moving ahead of you. So, you’re left with the feeling that you’re holding up the group and you rush through your next shot. However, the fact that you just hit a bad shot should be cause to take your time. Sure, there are the few brave souls out there that can block out such social pressures of uneasiness and take their time on this critical next shot. But for all too many of us, we yield to the pressure of our own self-consciousness and we hurry more than is necessary. That is exactly what Roger Merchant did on his next shot.

We were all standing precariously in the middle of the fairway looking back at Roger as he swung. Unlike a real golf ball in the daylight that you can’t see coming at you until it’s too late, we all saw Roger’s bright yellow ball coming at us. Within a brief moment, Mark, Nate and I were all face down on our bellies.

John remained standing in the fairway stoically as Roger’s low screamer whizzed by and rolled up the fairway about 50 yards past us. Its yellow tracer seemed to hang in the air.

“You caught it a little thin Roger,” shouted John.

We could hear Willie laughing out loud at us as Roger sheepishly acknowledged with a wave of his hand.

I was away at that point and was lining up my shot. I took my time and addressed the ball cautiously. I was still pretty pumped up from the incident with the crazy father so I was a little more aggressive than I should have been. With night golf, your depth perception is severely impaired. I moved my body in the middle of my swing as I struggled to focus on the ball. I ended up catching it thin, but luckily the ball made it all the way to just in front of the green.

“Not too bad,” said John as Willie and Roger pulled up in their cart.

“It was awfully ugly,” commented Nate. “I’ll take it,” I replied.

“Looks like you made it past me and Nate,” Mark said to Willie.

“I’m just glad those cops are gone,” said Willie.

“Yeah, I saw a little uneasiness there,” said John. “What’s the story?”

“That Officer Ryan pulled me over for a DUI,” answered Willie.

“Did it stick?” asked Mark.

“No, he was blessed to have a star defense attorney for a brother,” proclaimed Nate.

“Oh shit,” said Mark.

“I had that judge eating out of my hands,” said Nate.

“I’m surprised you weren’t found in contempt,” I said.

“Oh, he threatened us with it,” said Willie.

“That judge loved me,” said Nate as he addressed his glow ball with his seven-iron in hand. As usual, he slowly snuck up to the ball and swung aggressively. He hit a low knock-down shot that hit the green and appeared to stay on.

“How do you like that,” Nate proclaimed. “I stuck a glow-ball.”

“I’ll tell you what you can stick,” replied John.

“Five more says I get inside you,” said Mark.

“Gambling is illegal at Bushwood,” I commented.

“And I never slice,” added Mark.

“You’re on,” said Nate.

Mark took his usual methodical swing and hit a nice high arching shot. The glow ball’s yellow tracer seemed to hang in the air. The ball hit the green and rolled to the back.

“We’re back to even,” said Nate.

Willie walked up to his ball with his cocky stride. He stood over the ball with confidence holding his wedge and took a strong swing. The ball flew high and landed on the green a few feet inside of Nate’s ball. John and Nate immediately hopped in their cart and headed up to John’s ball as the rest of us popped open some more beers and began to follow them.

By the time we arrived, John was addressing his ball. He waggled his club a few times and took a nice smooth swing with his wedge. The ball flew extremely high and appeared to stick very close to the pin. We all immediately gave him a hard time for not getting it closer to the hole. John may have been the best golfer, but that didn’t mean he was going to get off easy. He’d be waiting a long time for compliments from his friends, but he didn’t really expect any.

Roger quickly hit his approach shot onto the fringe and soon we were all encircling the dark green. The night shadows played with our eyes and hid the undulations of the green. They all stood and watched as I lined up my shot. I knew the green well, but the shadows were showing me a slope I had never seen before. It took a very conscious effort to ignore what my eyes were telling me and to trust my memory. There should have been a slight break to the left and uphill to the hole near the center of the green. I decided to limit the room for error by running the ball to the hole. I closed my pitching wedge a little with my hands pressed forward. Using just an easy back and forth motion with my shoulders, I popped the ball onto the green. It rolled steadily right up to just a few inches short of the hole.

“Nice chip!” proclaimed Mark.

“Good one Bri,” commented Nate.

Willie, Roger and John all acknowledged as well with the standard, “good shot.”

I walked up and tapped my ball into the hole and was happy with a par. I left my glow ball in the hole to help light up the target for the others. The “hole-ball” as we had come to call it was an essential part of night golf. Roger was on the fringe so he hit next. As he did, the others were busy lining their shots up as well. We were very serious about “ready golf.”

From the left fringe, Roger hit his putt hard. It broke twice while racing to the hole and went two feet past. Mark immediately tapped his putt softly from the back of the green on a downhill path to the hole. While it was still rolling very slowly to the hole, Nate smacked his ball from about 15 feet away on the right side of the green. The two glow balls streaking across the dark green looked like shooting stars in the night sky. Mark’s ball trickled into the cup just a split second before Nate’s ball followed it in.

“The old hootchie coochie,” shouted Nate.

“Great putts,” said Roger as he knocked his ball in on top of the others for his bogie.

Two Birdies so far and there were now four balls in the cup. Roger’s was sitting mostly out of the hole resting on top of the others. Willie was away, but demanded that at least two of the balls be removed from the hole so it didn’t affect his chances. We all harassed him as Nate picked up his ball and Roger’s. Willie knocked in his ball from seven feet and John quickly tapped his in making it four birdies. It was unheard of, especially in night golf.

“That’s a push,” said Nate.

“Big push,” added Willie.

“It’s a waste of four birdies,” I commented.

You might say the round of night golf was all down- hill after the first hole. I began dinking more and more to forget about the asshole that attacked me. The rest of the guys of course had to keep up with me beer for beer. Need- less to say, there weren’t any more birdies, but John did play well as usual. It got to the point where Roger and I began playing as a two-man scramble team to compete against the others. It actually worked out fairly well because it gave one of us more time to drink while we waited for the other to hit.

We finished the first nine and retired to the clubhouse patio to have a few more drinks and play some cards. Nate and Willie were determined to get their money back from John, but I was content to watch. I was also very grateful that I did not have the opening shift the next day. Opening the golf course on weekends was best left to retirees. They were the only ones who could be trusted to show up.

We carried on until two in the morning trading stories and insults. By the end of the night, the story of my assault by a crazed golfer had grown somewhat. I may not have been in mortal danger, but I was attacked and therefore entitled to get a good story out of the ordeal.

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