Friday, January 6, 2012

Why I nearly cried like a baby on Wednesday, 4 January, 2012

Played 18 holes of golf with my father at the Park District par-3 course in the morning. Then we went out to Makray Memorial CC to play a real majestic, long, hilly course. Dad starts out like he's on the senior tour, pars five of the first seven holes, and then makes two bogies that were way to easy - should have gotten at least one par of the two. So, he's four over par (par = 35) and he's 83 years old, and I know how he's striking the ball, and even though the back nine is much longer (par 3's can't even be reached, plus two rather than one par 5 - for par 36), I can feel it - he can shoot 44 to equal his age, and the way he's striking the ball, 40 is not out of the question.

So, atop the hill behind the ninth green, I lay a little guilt trip on him (because is is very cold, and he is shivering): "Dad, if you'll just play nine more, I'll never ask you for anything again."

"You REALLY want to play another nine?"

"Yes, dad, I really do."

"Okay, but I gotta use the wash room."

"Okay, let's do it."

So, while he's in the wash room, I check in with Don Habjan, the head pro, and a family friend for 40 years, going back to the days when he was the assistant pro at Midlothian Country Club, and used to play golf every Sunday morning with my Uncle (and Godfather) Floyd Ganzer.

I am literally in tears. "Don, this is SO exciting. Dad just shot 39, and he's hitting it so well, I think he can shoot his age. This is more exciting to me than a first date with a known nymphonmaniac."

Don, having heard such stuff before, if not all the time, just smiles, a cryptic, almost wicked smile, as if to say, "Mark. Be careful what you ask for. This is G-O-L-F you are playing, and G-O-L-F can be a cruel mistress."

We start. Dad double bogies 10, bogies 11, bogies 12, bogies 13, pars 14 (whew, but DAD, where you gonna make that other par) bogies 15, pars 16 (OMG - tough hole), whew, got it, and then I make a small tactical error, and, playing quite well myself, since I am not paying any attention whatsoever to what I'm doing, I vainly decide we will tee of from back tees on 17, where the hole is a 310 yard PAR FRICKIN' THREE! Well, I get my 3 metal club air born, about 265, which is good, but, dad loses his 13 degree metal club right, it hits a tree, ricochets at right angels, about 20 yards in front of the short tees (and we were playing the shorts; trust me; it's January, it's cold, and the damn course has about a 10 degree up hill grade the whole way) - from here, he CHUNKS IT - OMG - RALPHIE BOY, you gotta hang in there partner!

Then he hits his 56 degeree wedge to about 10 feet and sinks the putt. Good, thinks I to myself, come on RALPHIE boy! On 18 he makes a tactical mistake, going too far right, and having to deal with a side hill lie in the rough. He beats it out, but good. Then comes up short with a 6 iron, which should be fine, EXCEPT, that, he chunks a wedge, and is not lying 4, and needs to up and down it from about 30 yards to shoot that elusive 83. Well, long story short, he hits a fair shot, and sinks an 8-footer, shoots his AGE!

WAY TO GO DAD! YOU JUST SHOT YOUR AGE!! (And made it WAY more exciting than it had to be!)

So, anyway, we go to play the park district course again this morning, and it is COLD, and there is this peach fuzz frost on the greens, and I am NOT coming close to getting the ball to the hole, and I make 9 consecutive bogies! Dad is 6-over par. We agree to go to MacDonald's and sausage up! Feeling better, we return to the par 3-course, and I par the 10th hole - whoope dee doop! Then proceed to bogey 11, 12, 13, 14. I catch a little fire and par 15 (215 yard pae 3 - we play two balls to each hole, except the third, which is an insanely difficult 235 yard, uphill, dog leg par 3, that you have to carry over a tree that is 100 feet tall, OR hit a left to right shot, starting it out over the railroad tracks, riding the breeze, and fade it back over the power lines and onto the course, OR, you can aim at the fire hydrant out at the farthest western point on the course, and hit a huge hook to try to avoid the trees on the left). Par 16 (also 215) and then make pars on the 140 yards 17 and 18 - hitting the green both times with an 8 iron, which, for me is good, been coming up short with a 6-iron earlier (except that the damn thing hit an icy part of the fairway and bounced over the fence behind the green.

Now, dad's wearing pants over sweats, and he has to pee, and this is NOT an easy thing to do for him, first has to unzip, then has to ?? well, whatever he does with sweats, so, we must return home It would turn out, later, on the course, that MY sweats fell off my hips (going commando, BUT, wearing dress slacks underneath) leaving my unzipped dress slacks kind of exposing my little guy - but, it's so little, t'ain't no one gonna notice!

NOW - not having to worry about ole' Ralphie boy Toy shooting his age any more, I can focus exclusively on my game, and so, miss a 4 foot birdie putt on one; miss a 4 foot par save on two; come pretty close to draining a 20 foot birdies on three - but, it's not nuclear war fare, so pretty close is not good enough; fail to up and down from 10 feet off the green on 4, select the wrong approach club on 5, leave an very difficult shot in the gaping maw of a green side bunker, explode out, over the green, 10 feet off again, and fail to up and down it, making, thus double bogey, and kind of crapping out what had started out to be a good round, now, 4 over after five holes. Drive it like a gorilla on six, which, yesterday, I almost made two one, rolling my second shot just one foot off the back edge of the green; but, today is a different day, and I hit the WRONG FRIGGIN' CLUB, short right, in the tall grass, chip long of the green, almost sink the approach, and get another par. Knock down 3-wood on seven leads to a 20 foot down hill birdie putt, which I don't even come close to making. Leave my approach to the par-4 8th hole about a foot short of the green, and knock the chip shot 1" from the hole, damn; then foul up on nine, when I forget to align and aim my 2nd shot to the green, and EXPLODE out of, yet another gaping maw of a bunker, about five feet off the green, and manage to up and down for bogey, for a rather undistinguished 41 (my personal best on the nine is 38 - which I've shot twice).

But dad had decided to make the day special, and the grill room was open, so we went and had lunch. We get this hot latina waitress, Victoria, and she comes over, smiling like a cover girl, and dad lights up like a Christmas tree. "How've you been? HAven't seen you in LONG time, and she stoops over and give him a very sincere hug."

We order 1/2 rueben sandwiches with chips. I take the time to tell Victoria about how lit up dad was at seeing her, and mentioned that mom had died. She didn't know, she offered her apologies. As we finished lunch (but not all the home made and they were really delicious potato chips), dad asked for a styrofoam container for the chips. "You wait here," says Victoria, "I'm gonna bring you some coffee and something."

And something = to die for chocolate cake with raspberry - oh, to KILL for! So, we return to the course, our bellies filled, our imaginations running a tad (perhaps) vividly (thinking about that hot Latina Momma - at least mine were) and I say, "My number's 34 this side." Dad says, "this is a pretty tough nine."

"You're right," says I, "I'll make that 36."

So I foul up, and bogey 10, NOT a good start, and on 11, I do something I hadn't previously done before - I knock it on in two, misread the putt from 25' a tad, and make PAR. Good! Save par at 12. Knock it hole high on 13, but fail to up and down it. Knock my approach just 2' over the 14th hole, and damn near hole out, saving par. Par 15 the old fashioned way, 3-metal, 3-metal, 7-iron (I had never hit THAT green in regulation before, either; and my 3rd shot is usally with a 21 degree metal club! that I invariably pull into the left bunker - short siding the pin)!

I demolish my drive on 16, and make a bad clubbing decision - knock down 7-iron (I birdied the damn hole the day before, knock down 7-iron to 3') but yank it a tad, and damn near hole out to save par. Seventeen, we are playing this mutha from the 180 tees, and I beat my 22 degree metal on - should have hit the friggin' 5-wood, I have a 90 foot putt, which I get up and down.

I kill my drive on 18, then nail a 3-metal, to about 60 yards (par 5). I take my 52 degree wedge, use my reverse-vardon grip, take a full swipe, and damn near fail to clear the trap, but, clear it the ball does (the course is LOVING me today) and roll it 6' past the hole. RALPHIE BOY, meantimes, has hit his 2nd shot to within about 30 yards of the green (this is beyond long for him - shit - it's beyond long for ME!) and approaches to about 7'. Dad makes his birdie putt! Ta-effen-da! while I bring the cart around, The old man is so full of confidence, vim, piss and vinegar (and thoughts of Victoria watching) that he up and makes my birdie putt!

Talk about team golf! I BIRDIE 18 to close out with 37 on the back nine- 41-37 = 78! Personasl best! Boo RAW!

Oh, and Ralphie Boy Toy? He shot 44 on the front nine, no biggie. He shot 39 on the back side, holy shit, Ralph, didn't see THAT coming! For his second 83 in two days. My old man shoots his AGE! Damn! HE BE GOOD!

So, here's the poem I wrote for Victoria (a modification of one I wrote for Colleen Zenk, the day before):


One day Victoria Inspired Me 

Of all the stars that shine so bright
Of all the stars that do delight
Of all our days and all our nights -
Our thoughts dear one on you do dwell.
We, we always wish you well
And wish that each day you embrace,
Show the world your loving face,
Energize, charm, delight us
With your gifts of youth, your arts, your crafts ignite us!
Your dance, your music all tell truth
Reminding us e'er of the child (the youth)
We were and might one day, be again.
Peace and blessings on you dear friend
And upon all you love until the end,
They too shining brightest star
Lighting night from near and far
Raising forever the friendship bar
Blessed human beings, we be,
Simply knowing you, Angel,
Child of God, yes, thee!