The course was angry that day my friends, as if she sensed the recent talk of her impending doom.
That’s right, while the world’s best were trying to survive the tough test of this year’s PGA Championship, I was playing in a four-man scramble for a local charity, at that course in the crosshairs known as War Memorial in Little Rock.
Our scorecard read that the yardage from the white tees was 3,969 yards, which is a touch shorter than Bethpage Black’s 7,459. Other similar comparisons were Brooks Koepka’s 63 in round one and our team score of 61, which sounds like it’s two shots better, even though Brooks was seven under par and we were four under.
It’s disheartening really. I know he’s only 29 and stronger than I ever was or ever will be. But there was a time when my teammates and I could really play. We broke 80 consistently and there were a couple of times when we even bested 70. Enter father time, who has his cruel way with skill and strength, methodically carving them both away, like a sadistic thief who slinks in night after night until he doesn’t need to anymore, because finally there’s nothing left.
And golf is anything but a sympathetic foe.
Perhaps a little dramatic you say. Maybe. But you’re probably not 60 yet, or even 50. Oh sure, we still hit some good shots, and while struggling often these days, I did play three times at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia a month ago and didn’t do so badly, thanks, partly, to my faster-aging brothers in law, who insisted on playing from the senior tees, making those courses we played still longer than War Memorial but much shorter than the Black of Bethpage.
But it is still golf, the most difficult of games, where you have to do about 77 things right on each swing, just to not whiff the ball and get it airborne, trying to keep it on some line that resembles straight.
‘Keep your head still Jay, tuck that right elbow, slow backswing, smooth transition, shift your weight, full turn, not too quick, NO NO, NOT TOO SLOW EITHER. DON’T DECELERATE, EYE ON THE BALL…AARGH!’
But other than that we had a pretty good time.
With me were three of my best lawyering pals, Kingbossdaddy, Chickenhead and Judge Runnin’ Randy. We’ve played numerous rounds together. I’ve been watching Judge Randy hit that maddening Flip F$#% shot of his since the days of Apollo and LSD. He introduced me to Jim (Chick) back in the 80’s. I remember like it was yesterday, when Jim told us that Patti was pregnant with Katy, as we stood on the tee box at our old playground they called North Hills. Then I met Mark (KBD) a few years later, during the first Julian Cup I played in. We were on the same team and instantly became brothers from other mothers.
The Julian Cup soon became legendary in the group of eight players, then 12, and finally 16. The memos had a lot to do with that. This was before email I guess, because we would get actual letters in our mailboxes from each other in the weeks leading up to the three days of pressure packed matches. Ah, those letters. Hallmark they were not. I would even imagine there is some sort of federal law against sending those types of things through the USPS.
I still credit those dueling memos for helping me get, and keep, my job as a columnist. Because in Julian Cup correspondence, one had to be able to portray, in descriptive and colorful language, certain weaknesses and abnormalities that one’s opponent hopefully possessed.
Good times for sure. And yes Kyle Mooty, your Myna bird is still heckling on the 15th hole at North Hills. How long do those foul creatures live anyway?