Friday, November 04, 2005

What Were They Thinking??

One of the nice things about my home course complex in November is that our par-61 executive course is very open during weekdays. One can usually go out alone in the mid-morning and get a quick nine-hole tune-up in an hour and a half.

As I had a serious match coming up tomorrow, I decided at the last moment to do that today. When I arrived, there was a group going off the first tee, but the back side looked wide open, and so I went off the tenth tee with no one in sight in front of me. My plan was to play one of my favorite practice games: a "reverse scramble" where you hit two balls on every shot and play the worst of the two... it's remarkable how that makes you concentrate.

But, as I walked off the twelfth tee I saw a three-some moving toward the thirteenth green, and by the time I got to the fourteenth tee I had to wait for them to putt out and clear the green. By then I knew I was in trouble: the group was three older women, the type who move very slowly, putt out everything, and then have a coffee-klatch as they stand beside the green posting scores and gossiping. (I can say "old" without prejudice, because I'm old myself. I say "women" not through any bias... they just were!)

From that point forward I waited on every shot, and when I walked up to the seventeenth tee, they were barely 20 yards off the tee, hitting short ground balls through the rough towards the back edge of the fairway. There was no indication they even saw me, much less any offer to let me through. What could they have been thinking?

So I sat on the bench beside the tee and watched as they wandered down the fairway until they were out of range. But when I got up on the tee, they were walking back towards me, obviously looking for someone's ball. I then watched them walk forward and backwards again, for three round-trips, until they finally moved off and out of range. But, when I looked up from hitting my drive (long and straight, but pulled into the left-hand rough) I was shocked to see them walking back —again — along the left rough. And... you guessed it... they walked right to my ball and proceeded — without looking at it closely — to whack it off down the fairway.

Sure enough, when I got to the area, I easily found an old and scuffed Callaway about 15 feet to the left of where my new Titleist So-Lo (with a "Tyvek" logo on it) had been.

I caught them again on the eighteenth tee, as one of them had hit a clanker just off the front of the tee and was retrieving it in order to re-tee and hit a mulligan. Again, there was no recognition, much less any offer to play through or even to play in with them.

Here's the Zen question of the day. Do I say anything? Do I ask about the brand of ball that they lost and then "found" on the seventeenth? Does any of it matter?

I probably failed the test, as I did ask about the ball. "The ball you were looking for on 17... was it a Callaway?" That produced a brief look of panic, but a quick recovery. "Oh... No... " Then, brightly, "It was a 'Tech' something. I don't remember what else it said." (Remember the "Tyvec" logo??)

But, it was a beautiful day and this was a group of three ladies in their 70's, out on a glorious fall morning, walking the course. Who could find any fault with that?

(New today... a new fortune cookie for you, and the second Zen Golf essay will be posted tomorrow.)


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