Posted on: February 11, 2014
Danny knelt down like a catcher and lined up what he hoped would be his final putt. He scanned the three feet of tightly manicured turf for elevation changes and debris. His eyes dug a mental trench from his dimpled sphere to the cylindrical void ahead.
With the line permanently imprinted in his brain, Danny retrieved his ball marker, leaned against his putter and cursed his aching knees as he eased himself out of his crouch. He stood to the left of his ball, spread his feet shoulder width apart, and took three practice swings to gauge his speed.
After completing his 20-point inspection, Danny sidled up to take his final stroke. His arms shifted back and forth like a pendulum, sending the blur of clefts and logos tumbling towards the shadowy abyss.
“MOTHER FUCKER,” Danny yelled as the ball traced the edge of the cup like a skateboarder grinding the lip of an empty swimming pool, coming to rest an inch from the brim.
Danny re-gripped his putter like a javelin and sent it flying towards the golf cart.
“WHOA,” Stephen shouted as the putter sailed over his head. “Chill out! We’re right in front of the clubhouse.”
“FUCK THE CLUBHOUSE,” Danny replied.
“Seriously, man. They’re going to ban us from the course.”
“FUCK THE COURSE.”
“You’re done,” Stephen said, hitting Danny’s ball towards the cart.
“You’re damn right I’m done. FOREVER.”
“Oh come on, that’s just the anger talking.”
“I AM anger!”
“Well walk it off.”
Stephen hopped in the golf cart, mashed his rubber cleats against the pedal and followed the winding asphalt to the parking lot. He allowed himself to laugh once Danny disappeared behind the building, partially from Danny’s childish outburst and partially from the scorecard sitting in front of him.
Stephen unloaded the clubs, returned the cart and made his way to the bar, where he found Danny sulking at a two-person table in the corner with a couple pints of beer dripping sweat on their coasters.
“I was going to get this round,” Stephen said as he took the empty seat across from Danny.
“I don’t need your pity drink,” Danny fired back.
“Come on, you didn’t do THAT bad,” Stephen said, sliding the scorecard across the table.
Against his better judgement, Danny glanced down at the card to confirm his 20-stroke deficit.
“Didn’t do THAT bad?” Danny yelled, drawing the attention of everyone in the bar.
He further entertained his audience by ripping the paper in half and throwing it over his head.
“You’re seriously going to get us kicked out of this place,” Stephen reiterated.
“And I’m seriously never playing again,” Danny replied.
“Yes, you are.”
“No I’m not. I’m tired of this.”
“Tired of what? Fresh air? Green grass? Good conversation?”
“You know exactly what I’m tired of.”
“I’m afraid I don’t.”
“LOSING. I’m tired of getting my ass kicked EVERY–SINGLE–WEEKEND.”
“So try harder,” Stephen suggested.
Danny ground his teeth so loudly, the bartender winced from across the room.
“Try harder?” Danny clarified.
“Yeah. Go to the range a few extra days. Take a lesson. Don’t just bitch about it.”
“That’s easy for YOU to say, but not all of us grew up with a silver sand wedge up our ASS.”
“Oh, I see. I’m supposed to apologize because my dad was into golf.”
“No, don’t apologize, but at least SYMPATHIZE. I’ve been playing golf for what, three years now? You’ve been playing since you were THREE–YEARS–OLD. How is this even fun for you?”
“Winning’s always fun,” Stephen said with a smirk.
“Well, LOSING isn’t.”
Danny underscored his point by taking a big swig of beer. He returned his glass to the coaster and gazed out the window.
“I don’t want you to quit,” Stephen said, breaking the silence.
“Well I don’t want to keep feeling like this,” Danny replied, keeping his eyes on the eighteenth green.
“Hopeless. Like no matter how hard I try, I’ll never get on your level.”
“Well, what if I spot you some strokes?”
“I don’t need your charity.”
“Actually, you kind of do.”
“I didn’t mean it like that. It’s like you said, I have a thirty-year head start on you. And since you can’t hop in a time machine, this is the only way to make us even.”
Danny took another swig while contemplating Stephen’s proposal.
“Fine, we’ll try it.”
“But I SWEAR–TO–GOD, if I win, and you throw this in my face, I will neither play with or speak to you again.”
The following weekend Danny knelt down and lined up what he hoped would be his final putt. He stood, swung and listened for the clunk of his ball hitting the bottom of the plastic cup.
“YES,” he yelled, keeping his putter firmly grasped in his right hand.
“There it is,” Stephen said, tossing Danny his ball. “That’s the best round of golf I’ve ever seen you play.”
“That’s the best round of golf I’VE ever seen me play,” Danny shouted.
They returned to the cart and tallied their scores.
“Alright, don’t be mad, but I still beat you.”
Stephen braced himself for the crash of Danny’s high spirits.
“DUH. You were playing out of your MIND today. What’d you shoot, like two under or something?”
“You sicken me. Let’s hit the bar and I’ll buy you a well-deserved brewski.”
Danny tiptoed across the lounge with a foamy pint of beer in each hand.
“Your spoils, Sir,” He announced, placing the chilled glass in front of Stephen.
“Why thank you, Sir,” Stephen answered, folding the newspaper he was skimming. “Did you see they’re raising the minimum wage again?”
“Looks like it.”
“How is FREE money going to make people work harder?”
“You tell me.”
“I wish I could.”
The men sipped their drinks to make room for a new topic of discussion.
“Damn, you only had me by TWO strokes,” Danny reaffirmed after catching a glimpse of the scorecard.
“Yep, just two strokes.”
Written by: Mark Killian
Photograph by: Mike Colletta
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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