My wife and I, like millions of others, watched the event unfold on live TV. The affair was billed as possibly the biggest comeback since Lazarus. Much to our surprise, the outcome actually lived up to the hype.
Collective opinions are now unanimous: Tiger’s victory at the Masters is officially The Greatest Comeback in Sports History, Maybe Even in the History of the Entire Galaxy. There is talk of adding Tiger’s likeness to Mount Rushmore.
We Americans love a good redemption story. A lowly nobody arising from nowhere and achieving greatness. The ensuing hubris and soaring too close to the sun, the abrupt plunge into purgatory. The has-been clawing his way back to the mountaintop and rehabilitating his reputation, but now older and wiser and much humbler.
We cheered for Tiger as his putter scythed its way through the final round. When the winning ball dropped, my wife and I jumped up and whooped as if Tiger were a close personal friend who had miraculously extricated himself from the quicksand of self-destructive behavior. We knew you could do it! Way to go, Tiger!
This all got me to thinking that I should reconsider my attitude toward golf. I had always thought of golf courses as nothing but a waste of perfectly good farmland. My few attempts at playing the game led me to believe that golf is nothing but a source of ambulatory aggravation.
Tiger is 43 years old and has had several spinal surgeries. I’ve had no such surgeries but do possess a couple of decades’ worth of experience at being over 40. After this latest Masters win, Tiger has more fame and fortune than ever. I see no reason why I shouldn’t jump onto the golf glory juggernaut. That is, except for a few minor details such as a total lack of experience and ability. But where there is golf, there is hope.
My old pal Gus (rest his soul) deeply enjoyed golf. Such was his enthusiasm for the game that he was able to talk me into hitting a few balls with him at our local driving range. Gus was a retired teacher; the experience was certainly educational.
For instance, I learned that golf balls have a lackadaisical relationship with the laws of physics. I might whack a ball with enough power to loft it into low earth orbit, but the little white sphere would merely skitter a few feet. Other times my driver’s head would be on a path that should have resulted in a violent collision with the ball, but a mysterious quantum phenomenon would cause the ball to disappear, then instantly rematerialize. The sneaky little ball had made it appear that I’d whiffed, causing no small amount of embarrassment.
Gus was philosophical regarding such things. He said that there are days when the golf gods smile upon you and days when they decide to torture the hapless duffer.
On the rare occasion when things went according to plan and my driver connected with the ball, there often followed several moments of bewilderment. Where did the ball go? Sometimes we would see it bounce to earth a good distance away, but there were just as many times when the ball would simply disappear. Perhaps I hit it with such force that it landed in another dimension.
Our youngest son was gifted with an unnatural (compared with me) amount of athletic ability. He is good at golf and therefore actually enjoys the game.
Last summer, our son and his wife came home for a visit. He naturally brought along his golf clubs.
The lawn of our farmstead became a practice range. Our kiddie pool (which is actually for our dog) was dragged out and repurposed into a chipping target.
I decided to try my hand at this chipping thing. I quickly discovered that I can’t even hit a target that’s 5 feet across.
But then the golf gods would randomly take pity on me and my ball would carve a graceful arc and plunk down at the exact center of the kiddie pool. Encouraged by this achievement, I would eagerly try to duplicate it. I never could.
Some days later, I was mowing the lawn when the mower emitted a loud “thunk.” I looked up in time to see a golf ball bounce to a landing waay out in the cattle yard. I finally made a drive that flew straight and true!
As we watched Tiger bask in his most recent triumph, I said to my wife, “I think I should make a comeback, too.”
“Really?” she replied, arching an eyebrow. “How do you come back when you’ve never gone anywhere?”
Jerry’s book, Dear County Agent Guy, is available at https://www.workman.com/products/dear-county-agent-guy and in bookstores nationwide.