When I was a kid, I’d often show up at the Don Valley Golf Course in Toronto. At 6:00 am on Saturday mornings. Juniors could tee off starting at 7:00 and meanwhile I had a job to do – replenishing my dwindling supply of golf balls from the flow of the Don River. I had so much fun getting so wet.
Decades later, Jody and I enjoyed walking by the Oldman River in Lethbridge, Alberta. Lovely trees in the river bottom, a golf course beside and always the flow of water gurgling nearby. I didn’t need to find golf balls but I did it anyway, much to my dear wife’s amusement. And the joy I felt when a white treasure winked up at me from the fallen leaves!
Yesterday, it was pouring buckets but I wanted to walk the fairways and rough of Tarandowah Golfers Club, a spiritual home of mine. I put on rain pants and my trusty winter coat. In the parking lot sat three lonely cars, one belonging to the ever hopeful pro who stood patiently in the clubhouse. He knew about my shtick: “Enjoy your walk, Bruce.”
Off I went into the stiff breeze and the barrage of raindrops. I was just so happy! I sauntered down the middle of the first fairway, all alone in the world. Behind the first green, the grass falls down to a creek. That’s where I needed to go. I searched amid the long leafiness, seemingly without success. Then a small white object appeared, tucked into its nest of grasses. And – no more than a foot away – another ball made my acquaintance. Joy times two!
I have a system, no doubt set in place to massage my ego after a round of 112 at Tarandowah. When I’m walking, and not playing, I par a hole when I find one ball there. Two balls is a birdie, no balls a bogey. So par for the entire course is having my pockets bulge with 18 of the little darlings. My record has been 22 under par (40 balls) which would equate to a score of 50 in the real game of golf – eight strokes better than anyone has ever accomplished. I’ve told a few golfers about my clubless exploits but they all seemed unimpressed.
Wow – it was getting wet out there, but happily I was three under par after four holes. Now for the gem: The fifth is a long uphill par four with a farmer’s field bordering it to the right. The soil was gooey, the pondlets were several, the shoes squished at nearly every step. But look what I found! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, … 33 golf balls poked their dimples at me.
Many a time, I thrust my forefinger into the mud and pried out the prize. Some wiping on my rain pants and into the pocket it went. As you might suspect, my coat has big pockets, and as I finally trudged back to the clubhouse, I looked like a squirrel with its cheeks full of nuts for the winter. But there was nobody around to see my personal vestige of loveliness. Oh well, I knew I was glorious … complete with mud smears, coated hands and wet everything, despite the rain protection. I was just so dirty … so wild … so strange.
The grand total? 43 balls, which represents a new standard for all golfers to aspire to. I expect any moment now that my doorbell will ring and TSN/ESPN/CNN will come calling.