I should have taken it as an omen. As I walked across the putting green to the driving range, the lone man practicing his putting grumbled something unintelligible at me. I said, "I’m doing great," assuming he had given me a customary greeting when in reality he may have been complaining about my walking across his putting line or telling me a tornado had been spotted.
I spent some time on the driving range while the other man teed off ahead of me. By the time I tee off, he had gotten a good two holes ahead of me. Because of high winds and the Masters being on television, the course was virtually empty. To keep a decent spacing from the man in front of me, I played two balls. While standing on the 4th green, I saw him put his bag down on the 6th tee. At that point, I decided I would start playing one ball in the hopes of passing him and getting in a full round of eighteen holes.
The fifth hole was a par 3 that played 195 yards with a large green surrounded by a creek, pond and trees. Because of a steady headwind, I pulled out my 5 wood and crushed a shot starting out over the water and the trees. The wind brought it back into play. I watched as the ball sailed over the trees knowing it's on a perfect line to the hole. I never saw the ball land, but I knew it had to be up there close or perhaps over the green.
I walked to the green with my head bowed down into a fierce wind. When I looked up, I saw my ball on the left side of the green, thirty feet from the hole but a well played shot in the wind. I set my bag down next to the green and pulled out my putter. From the corner of my eye, I noticed someone coming out of the trees from the other side of the creek. It’s the guy from in front of me. He carried his bag across the bridge and set it on the side of the green. Could I have been mistaken? Did I hit into him?
"Did I hit into you?" I asked. "I didn’t see you."
"No, no. I was just messing around down there."
He pulled out his putter and walked across the green as I did the same. I couldn't figure out his intentions. I assumed he just wanted to practice the hole. When I got close to the ball, I realized it’s his ball and not mine. He chipped onto the green sometime after my drive! I casually walked over the green, looking for my ball assuming it went in the water. He pulled out the flagstick and putted!
Okay, fine, I thought. I’ll just pick up my bag and head onto the sixth hole. But before I get off the green, he had picked up his bag and went to the sixth tee as well without a word. What was he doing? Maybe he wanted to partner up for the rest of the round. I didn’t know.
I stood there and watched him tee off on six. He picked up his bag and moseyed on down the sixth hole. I glared. Grimaced. Pouted. But he ignored me. Flustered, I dropped a ball and did a few practice putts. Then I skipped the sixth hole and cut in front of him on seven.
An opposing viewpoint from Roy Bob, the guy playing in front of me:
What a great day for golf! While warming up on the practice green, some yo-yo comes cuttin’ across, bag on his back leavin’ big ol’ indentations all across the green. I mean, you may as well drive your Caddy Master across the green. You know what I’m saying?
But I just gave him, you know, the usual country club banter, "How’s it going? Great day for golf ain’t it? Say, how’s the Masters’ goin’? Who’s winnin’?"
And you know what he said? "I’m doing great."
What does that mean? I mean, was he in the Masters and he did great and hopped on a plane to get back to our club? Danged whippersnappers.
But I forgot about him and went to tee off. So I’m movin’ along and get to hole number five, par 3 into the wind. I pulled out the trusty 7 wood and nailed it like I always do. But it’s windy, remember? So the wind blowed to hog heaven on me, pushing my ball into the trees across the creek. Never seen nothin’ like it.
I wandered down by the creek lookin’ for balls and whuppin’ water moccasins like you is supposed to when golfin’ by a creek. At this point, I’m plus 3 ‘cause I lost one ball and found four new ones. All sudden, I hear a whack! That yo-yo just teed off while I’m walkin’ the creek. Funny shot too. Started out way left. Lucky for him it hit a tree and dropped straight down sixty yards short of the green.
I found a ball pretty near the creek. It’s a Dunlop. Not mine, but I played it and didn’t take the penalty stroke because I’m tryin’ not to waste time. Chipped it on up the green a good 30 feet past the hole. Not bad from where I was though.
I crossed the bridge just as the yo-yo is settin’ his bag next to the green. He looked at me like I’m some kind of ghost comin’ from the woods like that. Asked if he hit into me. I tell him no. And he doesn’t apologize! Can you believe it? I mean, despite my denyin’ he hit into me, he should still apologize. Cos he did. Sorta.
Now, get this, he pulled out his putter and got to walking toward my ball. My mind was in stitches, him a thinkin’ my ball was his. I coulda done told him that his fell sixty yards short of the green, but the boy needed to learn to watch his shot not his fantasies. Besides, if he didn’t pick it up, I could come back for it later.
When I saw him eyeing my ball, I skedaddled it on over there 'cause if he hit it, that’s a penalty stroke. I’ll be damned if I’m taking a penalty stroke on his foolhardyness when I’m a puttin’ for par. Or was it birdie?
Then he pretended like he knew it was my ball all along, standing there with his hands on his hips looking at the pond thinking his ball might wash up. I went ahead and putted out. At the same time, he’s headed back to his bag. I jam the flag stick back in the cup and rushed to my bag. I suspected he was tryin’ to cut in front of me, so I headed on over to number six and never looked back.
Well, I did look back just before my second shot on six to see if he might hit into me. But why would he do that? I mean, if he saw me whuppin’ those water moccasins, he knowed I’m not to be messed with.