Throwback Thursday: The Golf Between Us

Want the Need

What you want is often not what you need. But we tend to fill our world with want, mistakenly equating the two. You end up throwing away the want and keeping the need. Because need is a part of you, part of your inner core. Want comes from outside. Want is the corporate entity telling you that you need the want (find the need, sell the want) when it is the other way ‘round. Want the need.

Bliss

I wanted to be good at golf, but golf is like anything else you do in life. You try to get better at it. You try to be good at what you do. Unless you don’t give a damn. Then, you give up and move on to something else. You keep trying things until you find your bliss if you’re lucky enough. That becomes your need. Still, not succeeding, even in something you abhor, can stick in your craw like a piece of broccoli wedged between your teeth. Golf was like that for me. Even pot couldn’t take the sting out of it.

A Gig on a Golf Course

In 1965, the country was on fire. I had been living and going to school in a big city beset with the problems of the day: racism, rioting, shootings, the burning of the inner cities. A black and white nightmare played out over a color TV. Those of us trying to right the wrongs society had thrown on top of us were vilified by those in power. Protesting was becoming an uphill battle. I was tired. I needed a rest, needed to regroup, needed a getaway from the inner-city blues of 1965. Had to recharge my batteries for the road ahead. I knew it would be a rocky one, filled with potholes, dips and rolling thunder. So, I took a side road, went back east for the summer and got a gig on a golf course.

Links and Seedlings

Golf wasn’t foreign to me, my parents and brothers all played. I didn’t. I mean, I tried once or twice, rented some clubs and went out and hated it. Then, with two of my friends, I tried again, wanting to see if I could get good at it, but the three of us ended up hopelessly hacking our stoned way over two or three holes, then gave up. We didn’t need to ruin the golf course with a thousand points of deep divots where, if you wanted to you could plant marijuana seedlings in each hole you carved out with your three iron. Reminded me of the Three Stooges playing golf in one of their shorts, called: Three Little Beers.

Playing Stoned

Being stoned doesn’t do much for your game. You end up howling with bent-over laughter after you’ve sliced one too many into the woods twenty feet off the tee. For me, having a quick toke on the ole pipe made the silly flag always seem farther away than it actually was. I swear it took hours before I could get to the end of the hole. Was the green moving? Or was I walking backwards? I think I gave myself a score of 105 for the first hole. Don’t remember even sinking a putt. I ran out of balls. Still, I had a beautiful, stoned sweet mellow swing. At least, I thought so. Even if the ball only traveled a few feet.

My Summer Job

I applied for and got the summer job as a greenskeeper on a golf course. I also caddied on weekends. Just goes to show you, you don’t have to know anything about the job you are being paid to do. In fact, most hominoids know nothing up and down the ladder of life.You fake it all along the pike and, if you’re a good faker, they’ll believe you: witness Trump and his swamp cronies. And, speaking of the talking Yam himself, despite having that pot of gold in his bank account doesn’t amount to much in golf. There are plenty of courses for the rich and the poor alike — just as many hackers, who have money and those who don’t. Rich or poor, it doesn’t make any difference. Except for the quality of the course you play on. Apparently, this was one high-class course. Certainly out of my league. A bridge too far.

The Redamninator

The executives I caddied for would ask me what the distance was to the green after they’d driven. I’d call out a random number as though I knew what I was talking about, but of course, I had no idea what the distance to the pin was. It could have been as far away as the moon for all I knew. Or merely a short pitching wedge away. Mostly, I’d tell them the range was far greater than the placement of the hole. I’d confidently hand them the club they requested and step well clear. I could see the hatred of the ball in their eyes as they lined up their shots, as though that little round sphere represented all the Democrats in the world and they had suddenly become the incarnation of Ayn Rand. They’d pull the club back behind their heads and whip it around and down, way too hard and way too fast, trying to kill the living daylights out of that poor little Democrat, slicing or hooking their shot as they twisted their bodies in spastic, back-breaking contortions.

But, of course, I was stoned completely out of my mind. I wore sunglasses in order to hide my bloodshot, road-mapped eyes. Nothing fazed me. They never suspected. But why would they? They’d never experienced a fine marijuana cigarette. Never felt the salubrious effects. I was cool. I was the great redamninator.

Only the Lonely

Thing was, I had to ditch my flower-power decaled VW microbus and drive to work in my father’s 1962 pea-green Oldsmobile Delta 88. The microbus didn’t go down well when I first showed up in it. I also had to get a haircut. Didn’t want to. I felt like Samson being shorn of his beautiful golden locks, but the money too good to pass up. No long-hairs allowed on the links of this highfalutin country club where no women were allowed on the course either. Only ultra-rich business executives from large multi-national companies belonged to the club. Their wives were only permitted to come to dinner on Wednesday nights – at the end of every month – from eight to ten, chaperoned, of course, by the lords, their husbands. Then they were booted from the premises and went home alone and lonely. The men stayed and drank whiskey far into the night.

Vanilla

We, the caddies and greenskeepers, we were all vanilla, had to look and act the same. We wore uniforms when caddying, red trousers and white shirts. Clean shaven and upright. As a greenskeeper during the week, I wore regular work clothes, smoked pot and drank beer in the woods when on break. Long before the movie Caddyshack. Back then there was no such thing as testing for marijuana in your urine. Or, at least, where I came from, which was out in the boondocks. Bad, pot-headed behavior was a badge you wore with pride.

The 1965 PGA Championship

We’d gotten word the PGA Championship was to be held at the club that summer — Televised by ABC Sports. All caddies in the club were eligible to caddy in the tournament, one of the big four, part of the Grand Slam. In those days, pro golfers rarely had their own private caddies. The caddies for the championship were chosen from a pool the club provided. That meant I’d get to caddy for one of the pros on the PGA Tour. Me, the caddy, who knew next to nothing about the game and just about anything else for that matter.

Fake It

Ah, yes, fake it. Be that as it may, I might pair up with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Gary Player. But no, I was a greenhorn. The senior caddies, the ones who had spent all their lives at the club, would get the good ones. I’d get a lesser-known. Of course, I wanted one of the champions, but that would have been a disaster. What I needed was a bottom feeder. And that’s exactly what I got. The one with a reputation. A bad boy. The one who threw tantrums, swore up and down, hurled and broke his clubs when he made bad shots. He was the perfect one. The one I didn’t want. The one I needed.

– Endit –


Next: A Stoned Caddy in the 1965 PGA Championship

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