26 September 2008

i almost don't believe it myself

So I suppose it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. It’s time to confess, to come clean, to stand up and take the punishment I deserve. Hide the women and children…

I played golf.

I know, I know… Please people, keep the screaming to a minimum and pick your jaws up off the floor.

I don’t play golf. I don’t own golf clubs. I don’t own that fancy glove golfers wear on their left hands. I don’t have golf shoes or towels or tees or any of it. I certainly don’t have golf clothing or golf balls. Yet, somehow, I played golf.

I was at a charity tournament where my company was the underwriting sponsor. I was helping to organize the event and sign-in players. When one player in my boss’ group didn’t show, he asked me to play with them. I protested lightly, saying I would ride along in the cart, but that I really don’t play golf. (I was really just trying to avoid embarrassing myself – the only full round I ever played was highlighted by my pegging another golfer on an adjacent fairway with an errant drive.)

Really, though, what could I say… “Well, boss, I think I’ll just sit here and read my Kindle in the shade.” Umm, no.

So, he agreed that he wouldn’t force me to play and I happily agreed to ride along. I like golf. I like freshly-mowed, green grass. I just can’t afford to play.

Well, we walk up to the first green and the team has managed to put their “best ball” about 20 feet from the hole. They take turns putting and then my boss hands me his putter – “Your shot.” Sigh. I knew that this would happen. I thought back to the countless hours I spent while my dad and brother hit golf balls at the Olmos Driving Range. I would take a putter and tool around the practice greens. I thought back to when my cousin or brother and I would play the par-3 course next to the range, losing balls in the drainage basin and pretending to be professionals. And, of course, stepping over the ball with my boss watching closely, I drain the putt. A birdie for the team and a guarantee that I will, at the very least, be putting the rest of the day.

That scene replayed itself at the 2nd and 3rd holes and all of the sudden I am everybody’s favorite guy. I start hitting approach shots, little chips around the green and sand-wedges from 60 yards. And I am actually doing well in that capacity. We end up playing my approach shot as the best ball several times. And then, disaster struck.

One of our goofy group-mates put his beer down, stepped up to the 8th tee (a par 3), and hit a moonshot with a 7-wood. Miraculously, it landed on the green and, from what we can tell, rolled off the back. The other guys shanked their balls to varying degrees and we drove up to the green to search for the best ball. Couldn’t find it. Surely you know where this is going.

I walk up on the green and peek into the hole. Yup. Hole-in-one. Great news for that guy. Terrible news for the team – because that guy is ruined for the rest of the day. His adrenaline is pumping, his heart is racing, and he now thinks he’s Tiger Woods which equates to every ball he hits the rest of the day being scorched into water, weeds, woods, or being altogether shanked into oblivion.

The hole-in-one guy even whiffed on several balls in the next few holes, after which he would laugh, remind us that he hit a hole-in-one, and then proceed to make contact on his next shot while simultaneously performing an archaeological dig with his 3-iron and happily return to the cart for more beer. He was worthless, which meant the team of three (which was already a man short) was now effectively a team of two, which then meant that I would be needed to provide something in order to keep our team competitive.

So, with the other members of the team depleted (by beer, the afternoon sun, and Sir Shanksalot’s hole-in-one), I stepped up to the tee…and added absolutely nothing of value. I think that in 8 holes we probably played my drive once and my approaches 2 or 3 times. My putting was just as bad as everyone else’s by that point and I was cursing my lack of golfing equipment. My hand was blistered from lack of that goofy glove. My skin was charred from the lack of hat and/or sunscreen. On and on I could go. I mean, no one ever got a 3rd-degree sunburn reading a Kindle, right? Well, no one ever got passed on a promotion for playing golf with his boss either if you know what I’m saying.

So, I played golf. I saw a hole-in-one. I got burned and, in the process, realized just how far my hairline has receded. Are you ready for the scary part? I kind of liked it.


  1. bring it on...i'm ready to tackle some more weeds at the olmos par 3 course! and bring your chi chi rodriguez putter / sword fight dance moves too!

  2. ahh, the "hole-in-one-guy", we all have one of those in our lives. We love to dislike this person, even though we would probably be just as much of a 'hole under the circumstances. And good job by the way, climb that ladder, golf is an elaborate game invented by CEO's for this purpose. As my uncle always says: "Drive for show, putt for dough".

  3. As a guy who is less than amused by golf, your record of the event is the most stimulating description of a business-oriented golf game I have ever read.

    Bravo, Mr. Burkholder!