November 24, 2010

A Good Walk Spoiled: Grant Challenges the Land and Emerges Triumphant

Today was hands down the worst game of golf I've ever played in my life. I've been playing since I was in 5th grade -- I have encountered bad days on the course. Today was the worst.

We were playing on a goat track in south central Texas whose roughs were so hard a 747 could land on them. I've seen more rugged terrain in Afghanistan and was worried at any moment that insurgents would emerge screaming curses and belittling my score card.

Our caddy posing at the 13th hole, a brutal dog leg left par 4. 
So, with the 30 mph wind blowing in my face, the rain falling down on my head, the clouds rushing past the horizon, I walked into the water to hit my ball (Note: Not a Hypebole). The ball, a dimpled collection of stark white plastic adorned with the inspirational "Just Do It" Nike Swoosh floated slightly above the water atop a mass of clover and moss. It was a bit out into the water, yet perched in a way that hitting it wasn't completely out of the question. I looked at my father and brother chatting up ahead on the course. They had written me off, discarded me like a kickball team ousts the fat kid.  I knew what I had to do.

"I'm going to Tiger Woods this shit," I said to myself. I said it aloud to make it real.

I waded in, felt the water seep into my shoes, socks, and pride, took one look at the pin, and swung with everything I had. Mud and water flew forth, but not as far as my ball. It landed on the green and I jumped triumphantly out onto dry land.

"You take a drop bud?" My father asked.

"No!" I shouted over the howl of the wind. "I went Tiger Woods on that shit!"

He tilted his head much like my puppy does when she is confused by something, then nodded in the way that fathers often do when dealing with their sons.

This became a trend for my day and much like the Russians in World War II I took utter despair, defeat, and shame and turned it into my battle cry. This was my Stalingrad, my Kursk. So what if 23 million people died? "I will be on the goddamn winner's podium," I thought.

My brother saw his double bogeys as blasphemous injustices. Were the priests of the Spanish Inquisition wearing down on his mortal soul he would have broken and confessed. "Si, si, it was...El Diablo de Golfo!"

Not I! When faced with a copse of trees more or less like the picture below, I turned to my brother, looked him in the eye, and said with utter confidence and madness, "I'm going to Tiger Woods this shit."

You can see the flag just past the tree on the left.
"You keep saying that," he said. That's fine. Not everyone has seen the truth, the light, and the way. "The way to what?" you ask? "Victory," I reply.

I hit the ball purely. Yet, where I was aiming for the 2 yard wide split between two trees, in actuality the ball traveled between a single tree with three intertwined trunks. Then, the ball went to the far left of a large tree by an inch and barely shaved past the next tree's right side. I bested three trees and rolled onto the fairway.

"Yes! Did you see that shit?!" I shouted. "Dude! I wish I caught that on video," said my incredulous brother. He was beginning to believe.

Finding glory for oneself is satisfying enough. Converting the heathen and embracing them within the folds of the blessed? These are the steps to immortality.

My crowning moment came at the end of the day, hole 17. My brother slaughtered a ball into a dry creek underneath a bridge. The ball was clearly out of play. He should have taken a drop. But, as I stood beside our cart on the bridge and looked down on my brother in the ditch, he told me to throw him his 7 Iron.

"I'm going to Tiger woods this shit," he said to me quietly.

"Yes you are," I said to my charge. "Yes, you are."

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