Warren Miller’s golfing misadventures (He’s not very good)
Vail, CO, Colorado
The other day, I was asked to play golf with some friends of mine after they had exhausted calling all of the good players they usually play with.
Since the local golf club only has 70 members, good players sometimes have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to make up a foursome during the week.
I can catch salmon near my house now, so I can’t always go out and play golf at the drop of a fishing pole. But this time I did.
While I was busy trying to get into my shoes with the spikes on them, I was also watching the group ahead of us. They had rented two carts with internal combustion engines, and one of their carts had a blown muffler, so it sounded like a broken weed-whacker.
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I’m not the best at golf. In fact, I have never played a round of golf without losing at least a six-pack of golf balls. Thankfully, when I go looking for my poorly hit golf balls, I can usually find them a bit more easily than others because mine are yellow and have a black stripe around them.
But those guys, they might have been even worse than I am.
The first guy of their foursome hit five bad mulligans before he finally dribbled one about 30 yards, the best of his attempts. The third guy to tee off could be excused because he had lost one of his legs in World War II during the invasion of Normandy. He did quite well, I thought, when he out-drove his three partners by 21⁄2 feet. That was far enough for the four of them to break out a bottle of scotch and pour a round of drinks for everyone to sip on while they played the rest of the hole.
All of their drives were about the same distance, so with a drink of scotch in their hands, they drove their carts to the closest ball to watch its owner hit it.
One of them struggled out of the cart while they all discussed what club he should use. Finally, the three of them watched the designated driver hit his ball another 30 or 40 yards. This called for another sip of scotch all around, and then they drove to where the next ball was buried in the deep grass, and so it went. It was 25 minutes before they were far enough down the fairway for me to finally tee off.
Now, there is a highway going down the lefthand side of the first fairway with a lot of 3-foot-tall grass between the fairway and the road. I hooked my shot right over that tall grass and onto the asphalt highway. Once there, it narrowly missed the roof of a passing car and bounced under the car ahead of it and about a hundred yards down the highway, where it bounced out from under the car and back onto the only place where the fairway is close to the road.
This was, by far, the longest drive I have ever hit in my so-far-meaningless golf career – an awesome 134 yards.
My flogging saga continued for the rest of the round, and when we got to the ninth hole, I discovered that one of my partners had been keeping score.
When he announced my score, I thought, “Wow! I’ve broken 60 for nine holes for the first time.” It was then that I found out we had only played seven holes. You see, we probably should have played along behind the group of men who fought in the Great War, but we didn’t have all day to play the nine holes, and our small course is laid out in such a way that you can skip the rest of the first hole and all of the second hole and move on to the third hole. So we still had to play holes one and two, which would become eight and nine regardless of what it said on the flags.
My goal is to play a round of golf with a lower score than my age. Or at least it was until I found out that you have to play 18 holes for it to count. If I can just keep playing the way I did in that round, I will be able to play lower than my age in a couple of more years, but I’ll do it for nine holes.
I have always set realistic goals, but having watched me play golf on occasion, my wife tells me that I have finally set an unrealistic one. She tells this to a man who took up skiing in 1936 and built his first surfboard in 1938. A man who still thinks he is a 14-year-old kid. She admits that I am but constantly reminds me that I am still trapped in a senior citizen’s body.
Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to more than 50 publications. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff, log on to WarrenMiller.net.
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