June 5, 2003

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Me going to a bunch of top-flight golf courses is sort of like me having supper at a five-star restaurant - I about faint when I get the check and then I go home and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I'm never going to eat snails.

But some how or other a group of my friends convinced me to go to the Lake of the Ozarks for a big golf outing this past weekend. If it wasn't bad enough that I had to pay 10 times what I normally pay to go out and humiliate myself, all of the spouses went along on the excursion and easily out did us on the shopping courses.

I tried to explain that I'm a hacker (believe me they have all seen me so there is no need to explain) and would be better off at home, but it was to no avail. It sounded like I had just joined up with the Christian Fellowship of Athletes as these guys harped on the idea of a bit of fun with good friends. The golf was secondary to the fellowship we all would have enjoying one and other's company. Two holes into it and we looked more like the Pagan Partnership of Putters. The smiles had pretty much disappeared as Osage National began swallowing us up, literally. Well I guess I shouldn't lump the whole group of six together. Two of the guys did really well.

The star in our trio did so well on the first day that I began to feel a little guilty. I surely was taking him out of his game as I spent two, three, or four strokes just to catch up with his drive. That's hard on a good golfer as they are taken out of their hitting rhythm having to wait on us slowpokes. But this golfer was almost saintly in his patience. As a matter of fact, he often told me to take my time and offered encouragement.

About the sixth hole I noticed a growing mound of golf balls in his cart. It turns out the saint was actually a scavenger and he was using my human rain delay to browse through the nooks and crannies to look for lost golf balls. Apparently they must have had a bad golfers convention the day before (I know, I know, why wasn't I invited) because this guy was running out of space in his bag as he uncovered two or three golf balls every time I slowed down the pace.

As the day mercifully came to an end, there were I believe three words said between our party as every one was obviously thinking about how much more fun they would have had scraping soap scum off the bathroom shower all day.

But I got a sense that the veterans of these now infamous golf outings had something in mind. Again there was little conversation, with almost every word that was uttered being self degrading complaints about how poorly we had played. Still I could see a glimmer of hope in the eyes of the fellowship. I began to believe that maybe there would be life beyond golf.

Apparently that's what the go-kart tracks are for. How else can you explain the proliferation of these little crash-up derbies right there along side some of the hardest golf courses in the state. Lets face it, what could be more fun than sideswiping that loudmouth partner who reminded you every two seconds how many strokes he was demolishing you by? Of course it didn't stop there. You didn't hardly see the other trio all day and they even tried to make you feel a little better about your game by sharing their struggles. Yet that didn't stop the delivery of a nice, little tap to spin out your friend. Ultimately the golfing frustrations were totally unearthed and there were some five-car pileups and sounds of ambulances on the way after our fearless leader displayed some classic road rage.

I must say that the marshal at the golf course was much friendlier when he told us to speed up our play and quit ball hawking in the weeds. I'm not sure if the go-kart manager was dialing 911 or her insurance agent, but I'm quite certain she wouldn't have spoken that way to either of those parties. And that was just day one of a three-day cruise. Someone throw me a life preserver.

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