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7:54 p.m. - July 24, 2005
Golf - A Four Letter Word Meaning I Stink!
We have just made a rule in the household. No yelling at all. Anyone who yells, whether it be me, Liz, Katie, or Kristin (well, she will get a pass for a while) will go into immediate time out.

Iím glad that rule isnít in effect on the golf course.

As the heat index turned to 110, I went to play golf at an annual golf scramble celebrating the wedding anniversary of some close friends. They were married on a golf course, and have had a golf scramble and cookout for each of their subsequent anniversaries. Itís a fun event that we all look forward to.

Liz, Katie and Kristin were joining me later Ė so I trekked 25 miles south to near Greencastle alone. (I donít know what would constitute as a greater offense of child abuse, hauling the kids out on a hot and humid day to bake in the sun for 4 hours or to watch me play golf.)

The day at the course started, well, it started by me turning on my cell phone and then calling Liz right away to make sure she had the directions. I had not noticed there was a voice mail, so I immediately got a rant from Liz about what our adorable #1 daughter had done in Kristinís room. Now, while Katie coating her entire door, floor, and self with red sidewalk chalk was cute, this incident was not so much cute as predatory. Think of how wolves mark their hunting grounds, and you get the drift.

Anyway, the rant surprised me, and Liz was surprised that I still wanted to give her directions after hearing her rant. Innocently, I tried to explain I didnít hear the voice mail. Man, when do I learn to cut my losses and take it? Never, I guess.

Anyway, after that it was off to goff, erÖgolf. Now I used to play golf a bit, usually once a week, about 7 to 10 years ago. I had progressed to shooting in the low 90s at some frequency (and the normal score was about 95 or so), and people had said that I had a textbook looking swing. I just needed work on my short game, my distance, and my putting. So basically, I needed to just work on everything ELSE but my swing. Oh, and be a bit more patient.

Telling me to be a bit more patient is like telling Barry Bonds to be a little less surly to the press.

But then I hurt my back, and was afraid to really put some ummmph into the ball. Then Katie was born and I rarely had time to hit the links. But I still had the textbook looking swing.

The textbooks donít help if you do everything else wrong under the sun.

This was my first time on the links this year. I played all of three times last year, and only twice the year before that. Iím not just rusty Ė I need to coat my golf game in a vat of WD-40. So I had low expectations. I had said that if my team used five of my shots, Iíd call it successful. (To those who donít know, in a scramble you play best ball, and everyone plays from where the best shot wound up).

I had low expectations, and early on I lived up to them.

The first tee shot I hit short and left. My textbook swing was there, but my hands turned the club to an angle thatís almost unheard of in golfing circles. Plus my stance was all fouled up and my feet were pointing in almost three directions at once.

But the swing itself Ė it looked mahvelous!

I was playing with Tank and Sid and a couple of people I didnít know. Iím glad Tank and Sid were there so I could at least laugh at myself with some friends. Self-deprecation when youíre amongst strangers isnít a wise strategy, especially when there are beers involved.

So after a while I finally get my hands to stop turning the club so much, but Iím pushing everything right. So far right, Iím golfing in the Tom DeLay zone. My game should be on Fox News. I think Iím slicing, but Sid says that I was lining up right and I need to aim left.

Good advice Ė the next time I do aim left. And of course, I hit it where I aimed it Ė this time. So now what do I do?

I just winged it.

Onward we trudged Ė drinking beers and playing mediocre golf as a team. The sun and humidity were scorching but it does beat working. And itís really a neat feeling when that once in a while you get a hold of a ball and just pound it down the middle of the fairway. It makes you want to forget about the 102 other bad shots, and all of the expletives that would have been deleted that you muttered under, above, and over your breath.

I did have a moment on the course, though. At times when Iím teeing off I canít seem to get my feet comfortable. I take my stance and waggle my feet and waggle some more. This time, though, I waggled and did a little shuffle and skidoo. It was as if I was on Dancing With The Stars (I could have even used my golf club as a cane Ė I had a hat on. It would have made a great grande finale!). Everyone lost it, and I was Disco Smed, the golfer.

Of course when I composed myself, I chunked the shot. Which I probably could have done without the comic relief, I suppose. Because if I had to support my family by playing golf, weíd probably live in a van by the river.

Anyway, we made it through 18 holes a little under par. They used six of my shots, one more than my goal, but a couple of those shots were used under duress. (My partners all hit worse shots than me, which was a miracle on its own, so my pitiful efforts were the best we could muster). And now we could enjoy each others company eating a great meal and listening to the other golfers brag about their game.

I called Liz and said we got done early, so head on down. Now when we were finishing up there were a lot of sirens and ambulances that whizzed past. I turned off my cell phone (battery issues) and waited for them to arrive. It should take about 20 minutes. So about 25 minutes later I turn on my cell phone and hear a message from Liz that thereís a big wreck and highway 231 was closed, so she was going to have to detour. I called her and asked here where she was at Ė and she said she was heading to highway 41.

Wow! Highway 41 would be about a 45 minute detour through the hinterlands. And of course, because she was in BFE I couldnít hear here. So I had to shout a bit Ė and then she thought I WAS shouting. I couldnít hear her, honestly, but was wondering why she picked THAT route.

And because of where we were Ė the phones kept cutting in and out. I think there were 30 or 40 calls we made to each other to try to figure out where she was and why she went that way because it kept getting cut off by the signal.

So finally she realized that she couldnít make it Ė and just ate in Rockville and went home. I went home as well, and sure enough the road was closed and I had to detour. Fortunately, I knew some of the backroads and went through Roachdale and Ladoga before going home. (And yes, the towns of Roachdale and Ladoga are about what you think they are Ė no fooling!)

When I finally home arrived some friends drove by and wondered what happened. I said Liz got sidetracked by the road being closed. Someone said later it was a huge wreck, two of them in fact, that closed the road. Liz showed me the map she used to route her alleged way home. It seems like one road that would have made more sense was basically missing, or made to look like it was no alternative at all. So, curse you Marathon Oil map printed in the Reagan administration!

So her trip to the scramble was for naught Ė but at least sheíll have a story to tell. I think thatís why I keep trying to play golf Ė itís good for the stories that you can tell.


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