I played golf on the morning of Memorial Day, just me and a good friend of mine. It was a great day. The course was in really nice shape. The fairways looked pristine. The greens rolled true. The weather was nice — a little on the warm side for my liking, but a nice, welcomed breeze steadily rolled through the hills, so it was quite pleasant. The beer was cold and the cart girl wasn’t hard on the eyes. I struck the irons well, and accurately, particularly my middle irons. I had a nice draw working. The driver was a bit askew, as it has been lately, but my 75-and-in game was surprisingly strong, and that’s always a win. The ol’ flatstick struggled like always, but that’s to be expected. “It’s a work in progress,” is what I keep telling myself, even if I know it’s a lie.
We were matched up with the sweetest older couple in Texas. The man was a pure gentleman. There were serious that-grandfather-you-wish-you-had vibes coming off this old-timer. He was complimentary of our games, even when we didn’t deserve the praise. He was encouraging, he was engaging, he showered us with the classic “nice one” and “yep, that’ll play” remarks, and he followed the rules of golf etiquette by the book. After teeing off with us, he’d walk his wife up to every lady’s tee box to help her line up her shot and offer a few encouraging words. He even pissed in the designated on-course restrooms on account of a lady being present. Just pure class.
His better half had been playing the game for only five years, according to him. All things considered — her relative inexperience and ovarian handicap — old gal had a pretty solid stroke from the right side. She was piping it only about 95 to 105 yards from the red tee box with the driver, but what she lacked in distance, she made up for with consistency, accuracy, and one of the better 50-plus-year-old asses these eyes have seen. She meagerly attempted to hide that thing under some stretchy skirt number, but she knew the attempt was futile. What a woman.
Awesome couple. Awesome day. But it was miserable.
Well, let me back up. It was overall fun, but I always have fun on the links, no matter what I score. The misery I endured came at the hands of this 70-ish-year-old devastatingly kind man that shamed my game up and down the golf course. With each stroke, little by little, he made me realize how much I had to learn, how inept my golf mind was, and despite possessing far inferior raw tools than I, how much better he was. He took me to school, dropped me off on the corner, and didn’t give me any lunch money.
This old man had the most amazing old man swing. You know the one — absolutely no hips, all upper body. His feet stayed flat to the ground throughout the swing’s duration, and there was zero leg, hip or torso rotation to speak of. Arms go up, arms come down. Ping. The K.I.S.S. method has never been more evident than while watching this man swing a golf club. He kept it simple, with very few moving parts to screw up. Consistency and accuracy were the strengths of his game. I don’t recall a single mishit. He even threw in a subtle little wrist-cock and stutter at the apex of his swing as a gentle “fuck you” to his golfing mates. So arrogant. Think of a much tamer, far less noticeable Charles Barkley hesitation. He called it a bad habit. I called it flair.
After his first tee shot of the day, and seeing his length and unathletic golf swing, I was thinking, “I’m going to destroy this nice man.” But he killed me softly. Every stroke slowly added to the realization that I would be happy simply keeping up with him. Then, by the turn, I was hoping not to get embarrassed.
He was only about 190 to 200 off the tee, and that was after fully uncorking. Those old bones couldn’t get it out there like they used to, but man, was it straight every single time. When I hit a 7-iron on a particular 185-yard par three, he hit 3-wood. Naturally, he hit the dancefloor. Who does that? His just-off-the-green game was the best I’d ever seen. Like Phil. Spin control with a soft touch. He was a magician. Great putter, too.
I didn’t get a final score from him, but if I had to venture a guess, I’d say he shot about a 78.
Here’s what I took away from the round:
1. There is a tortoise-hare application in here somewhere. The hare (me) was taken down by an old tortoise (him) who kept it steady and between the lines.
2. Golf is such a thinking man’s game, more so than I ever thought before. Cool, calm, and collected have never been adjectives used to describe me when I set foot on a golf course. I play hot and I swing hotter.
3. Gentlemen of the game win at life.
To rub salt in my wounds, and my ego, he was rocking some godly, seasoned silver wings under his Titleist cap. They were a real pleasure. What a fucking showoff he was.