For whatever reason, I do some of my best thinking while I’m walking. I take several walks a day, and almost always I’ll be just walking along, spacing out and not thinking of anything in particular when a thought will just hit me. “I bet Rosanne Barr’s vag looks like someone beat a raccoon to death with a rolling pin! That’s comedy gold!” And then I’ll do nothing with that idea because it’s not really that funny, just goofy. To be fair, though, that’s exactly how several successful sitcoms came to be. Case in point: someone in a writer’s room once made a joke about Loretta Swit’s poon, and before you know it, that joke morphed into Charles in Charge. Scott Baio’s original role was listed as “Dildo”. True story! (Note: Not a true story.)
Anyway, I was shocked to realize today that although my daily walk takes me right by a golf course, It had never occurred to me to write about all of the great times I have had on a golf course. For instance, when I was growing up, I had friends who lived next to a golf course. Not one of those golf courses where they sell homes to the well-to-do so they can golf and then relax in their back yard, sipping a cool iced tea until such time as an errant shot from a 3-iron shatters their teeth. I’m talking about a regular house that had a row of bushes next to it, and behind that row of bushes just happened to be a country club.
And so my friends and I used to go out there and do what we did best: Fuck with people’s heads. The 6th hole included a blind approach to the green, which was conveniently situated next to a small, overgrown field. From that vantage point, we could see golfers take their shot and then have time to run onto the green and fuck with their golf balls. For instance, one day we decided that we’d take one ball from the next group and put it in the cup. Then, from the safety of the field, we’d watch that one lucky person look all over for his ball until, out of sheer desperation, he’d look in the cup. Oh, the joy on his face! High fives all around! We absolutely made his day!
We then proceeded to do that to every group of golfers for the entire day, knowing damn well that at some point this conversation would happen over drinks in the 19th hole bar:
Fred: Hey, well, here’s to Pete with his eagle on 6!
Harry: Did you say you had an eagle on 6? So did I!
Tom: Really? So did I!
Frank: Oh, dammit. So did I.
Pete: You have got to be kidding me. How many people in this room had an eagle on 6 today?
(40 hands go up.)
Pete, Harry, Tom, Frank: Fuck!
And we sat there in the weeds, laughing harder and harder until we saw the course ranger cart absolutely hauling ass in our direction at which point we high tailed it out of there. We came back 20 minutes later and finished out the day.
Of course, sometimes we weren’t as subtle. We’d put two, three, or even four balls in the cup. Three seemed to be the logical limit. People would look around to see if anyone was laughing at them from behind a tree or something, but they’d be willing to at least entertain the notion that they’d had an amazing stroke of luck. Once you put four in the cup, though, they knew they were being fucked with. A couple of times mad golfers with irons came into the field looking for us, and we had to beat a hasty retreat. No one wants to be beaten to death by someone wearing lime green polyester pants.
Other times, subtlety went right out the window. We’d spell out “Sand Trap!” with a rake in one of the sand traps and when they came up the hill to find that their four balls were crossing the “T” in “Trap”, they were not very happy. Spelling things out in sand traps, actually, was terrific fun. You could do it during the night (a later specialty of mine), or during the day if the hole was secluded enough. Being young boys, we wrote our share of almost zen-like profanity: “Suck Balls”, “Ass Face”, and even “Fuck Fuck” stick in my memory to this day. My favorite, though, was accomplished on a hole where the green was surrounded by four large traps. Working very quickly, my friends and I wrote “Wife Getting Boned Now”. When the next round of golfers came upon our masterpiece, they had a good chuckle about it, but I bet you anything every single one of them wondered… Hehehe…
As I got older, my idea of fun on a golf course became a bit more sophisticated, by which I mean that I got drunk, stoned, and laid on that golf course a lot. Getting laid outdoors is always fun, but there are some things you should know if you set out to literally “do it” on a golf course. First of all, the cardinal rule is to never do this during the daytime. Very seldom do people just quietly play through. They’ve all got something to say, especially the old church ladies. And they’ve got a bag full of weapons.
Also, sand traps might seem like a nice and soft place to get after it, and for guys there are no complaints. But there are places sand was not meant to go, and when you’re knocking boots those places are all female. And grains of sand are sharp, so not only is it unpleasant for the gal, but after a while even the guy starts feeling it. It’s like spanking the monkey with a handful of thumbtacks. Or so I’ve been told. Ahem.
One other thing: A nice secluded grassy hill, under a starry sky with a crescent moon may seem like the most romantic place to make love at that time, and it is, but not when the High-Pressure Irrigation System of Doom turns on and you get 200 psi of pressurized water straight to the taint. That kills the mood really fucking quick.
My favorite golf course story, however, involved no sex, very little whimsy, and a certain amount of pants-pissing fear. I was a senior in high school, captain of the soccer team, and coming back from a Friday away game that we’d won in convincing fashion. My friends on the team and I were excitedly planning out the weekend’s festivities which centered around what promised to be an epic bash at a classmate’s house. Visions of kegs, joints, and girls danced in our fevered teenage brains.
Then the coach made an announcement: “Listen up! We know all about the party at Eddie’s house tomorrow. I can’t tell you not to go, but I can tell you this: While the police may or may not show up, someone from the athletic department will be there. If there is any evidence of alcohol or drugs at the party, anyone on the football, soccer, cross-country, or tennis teams will be immediately cut from their team, regardless of whether or not they are seen drinking or smoking. You have been warned.”
While this put a damper on our plans, we were a resilient bunch. My friend Eric quickly offered to ask his older brother to buy us beer, and I suggested the golf course as a great place to have some drinks in private. Fast forward to early evening the next day. Eric and I have army duffle bags filled with three 30-packs of Stroh’s (I know, Stroh’s!) and are walking out of his front door when a cop car comes flying up, sirens ablaze, stops in front of his house, and starts walking towards us. “Don’t freak out,” Eric said. “He can’t know what’s going on.”
This made sense to me, although it made less sense when the second cop car came screaming up ten seconds later. “What the fuck?” I helpfully offered. By the time the third and then fourth car screamed up, we knew we were fucked. We’d put down the duffle bags and consigned ourselves to our fate. Then an ambulance pulled up. The cops looked over our heads at the house number, and then headed next door. They had received a call from the neighbor, and when they saw us looking at them from the doorway they assumed we were waiting for them. Turns out that the neighbor was having a heart attack. What luck! Living in a small town, we now knew where every single cop on duty was. We piled into my car, and within minutes were tooling down the road, sipping beers. Life was good.
Life was even better once we’d parked on an isolated road next to a fence that we climbed to gain access to the golf course. We lugged the beer to the top of a hill upon which was situated a green, a small grove of trees, and some soon to be blasted teenage guys. There were four of us up there at the time, and we expected four more in a couple of hours. We had brought with us the beer (of course), a soccer ball to kick around, and our soccer warmup jackets in case it got cold or some girls happened to materalize out of nowhere and we needed to prove that we were soccer studs. It could happen.
After a couple of hours of drinking, we started wondering where the rest of our teammates were. So we walked away from the woods where the beer and warmup jackets were situated, and stood at the top of the hill overlooking a large section of the course to see if our friends were walking around and looking for us.
It’s at this point that I should explain a person whom I shall call Mr. D. Mr. D lived next to the golf course, and took it upon himself to be the official guardian of the course once the sun went down. If you were scrawling obscenities in a sand trap, performing obscenities on your girlfriend, or out there for any reason whatsoever, Mr. D. would take it upon himself to find you and then call the cops to have your ass arrested for trespassing (at the very minimum). And for security, he brought his dogs.
I don’t think we ever saw his dogs. Certainly their size, strength, and agility were inflated by fear and typical teenage melodramatic flair. But we knew doom when we heard it. At first you’d hear the soft metallic jingle of a choke chain, then you’d hear a guttural bark, then Mr. D.’s voice booming louder than God himself. “THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY! COME OVER HERE RIGHT NOW!” And then invariably, you’d hear you and your friends yell, “DOGS! RUN!”
And so it was that we got separated from our beer and our warmup jackets by Mr. D. and his Dogs of Doom (which, seriously, could’ve been Yorkies). So we did the only thing we could do: We hauled ass out of there. As we piled into the car, we realized that we had two problems: The first, and most obvious one was that we had no more beer. The second one only dawned on us over the course of the next 45 minutes: Our warmup jerseys with our numbers on them were sitting right next to the beer. This was proof that we not only had been consuming alcohol, but were stupid beyond fucking belief and deserving of any punishment that was deemed necessary by our parents, our coach, the high school, and the police.
And it was this that made my suggestion resonate: “First of all, it’s possible that Mr. D. didn’t find anything up there. We hid it all in the woods, and for all we know it could be up there waiting for us. If we don’t go back, it will be found tomorrow, and then we’re fucked. If he found it, he took it. And we’ll know when we get there because it will be gone. Then we’re fucked and it doesn’t matter what we do. So the only way to save our asses is to go back up there and see what the deal is.”
To tell you the truth, I’m kind of proud that at the age of 17 I was capable of that kind of logic sober, let alone with six beers in me. It was the right thing to do, so we went back to the scene of the crime, climbed over the fence, trudged up the hill, went into the woods, and assessed the damage: The beer was gone, the warmup jackets remained. This, although not ideal, was a great outcome. No matter what happened from that point forward, we could deny that it had anything to do with us. All we had to do was leave immediately.
So of course we stood there, on the edge of the woods, shaking our fists at the sky, bemoaning our fate. We cursed God, Mr. D., his Yorkies, our coach, the athletic department, Eddie for letting his party become so anticipated that it brought on unwanted attention… “Woe is us”, we proclaimed, “surely we are the most unlucky people in all of history!”
It was at this point that I noticed the cop car driving up the side of the hill with no lights on.
“Dude! Dude! DUDE!” I shouted as I punctuated each word with a slap to the arm of the person next to me. “COPS! RUN!” And so for the second time, we were on the lam. We cut sideways down the hill and made straight for the fence that my car was parked behind. It seemed like an eternity because, as we were on a golf course, crossing a fairway, we were as exposed as we could possibly be. Finally, with about 50 yards remaining, the cop car emerged from behind the hill, spotlight, high-beams, and cherries blazing. From what we gathered later on, Mr. D. took the beer, walked home and called the cops (this being before cell phones because I’m old). The cops arrived and they went back to get the jackets and see if we were stupid enough to come back. So when the jackets were gone, they knew we had to be close, and more than likely had parked where we did just 45 minutes ago.
How fast are you? Slow? Fast? Somewhere in between? Let me tell you this: When there are 50 yards between you and freedom, you are on foot, and there is a cop car on your heels, you are Usain Fucking Bolt on Speed. We FUCKING FLEW to that fence. I remember diving over head first, landing in a somersault, throwing open the door, starting the car, and peeling out of there in one smooth movement. It was insanely fast, and the whole thing happened in slow-motion. Not one of my other friends was left behind. Our coach preached teamwork. He would’ve been proud of our result, if not how it came about.
The only problem we had left was that the hilly subdivision I lived in had two legal exits, both about a 15 second drive from the police station. I was driving the most conspicuous vehicle imaginable: A 1978, banana yellow Chevy Impala station wagon. Unless we got out of that hilly, hairpin-turn-infested subdivision in less time than it took the cops to say, “Block off all exits”, we were fucked.
But somehow, I not only got us to the exit in one piece, but there were no cop cars waiting for us. Idiotically, instead of driving to a friends house and stashing the car in their garage, we went to the high school dance that was the occasion for the party. As everyone in my high school ditched the dances to party, the dances were not only poorly attended (making miscreants stand out), but they contained chaperones and undercover cops. When we arrived, a “student” wearing night-time Ray-Bans and a thick mustache started following us around. So we left, and decided to call it a night, the first smart thing we’d done that day.
On Sunday, Mr. D. approached Eric and his father at church. “Hey Tom, thanks for the beer!” When Eric’s dad asked what he was talking about, he said, “Ask your son.” Eric professed ignorance.
On Monday, my coach approached me. “So, I hear you’re quite the golfer. I mean, you’re spending time out on the course, right?” Before I even opened my mouth to lie through my teeth, he said, “Don’t lie to me. Mr. D. came to us with the numbers off of your jackets. But he wasn’t 100% sure he got them all right, so you all skated. You need to be cool, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Less than a week later, we got chased off the course by Mr. D.’s dogs again. But we were smarter, as our coach had requested: We left our warmups at home.