Decided to mix things up a bit today. I’m going to be blitzing my manuscript later so I thought I’d warm up my literary muscles with a short story. One man discovers why Mark Twain calls golf “A good walk spoiled”.
Fewer things look more appealing than this course as he stepped to the tee. Nearly six hundred yards of well architectured nature laid out before him and the gently waving flag. A warm late afternoon sun brought out the deepest of greens in the grass. Colourful trees straddled the wide flat fairway on either side. Sparkling white bunkers brought visions of the beach from a recent visit to the Caribbean. A gentle warm breeze tugs at his shirt, urging him to address the ball. The beauty of the course draws him in. A landing spot emerges on the fairway ahead of him. All his focus goes to this place, his vision blurring and tunneling around it. Taking up a trained stance parallel to the ball he swings with a smooth tempo. The small white ball is carried by the air until it lands softly not far from where he had aimed it. He smiles.
During his walk towards the ball the beauty of the course begins to transform. Trees grow larger and gnarly. They seem to reach out ready to catch errant balls. The flatness of the fairway gives way to the heaving of an angry ocean. The beautiful bunkers grow to sizes more fitting the name beach. Ahead the green seems to shrink around the flag, becoming impossibly small. When he reaches his ball and stands beside it the course has lost all it’s tranquility. A clear path to the hole is difficult to find now. Sweat has begun to form on his brow. His mind rushes to understand the changing nature of his foe. He turns to address his ball.
“There’s water on the left you know. You hit to the left when your nervous” a voice haunts his mind. He shakes it clear, standing to reposition himself. “That tree ahead of you is low enough, you can hit over it with enough power” it taunts. “Make sure to blast it past that bunker on the right” the voice continues. He stands staring at the distant flag stick. It flutters like the handkerchief of a distressed damsel. He longs for the focus and concentration of the tee box. His address becomes hasty in his hurry to free himself from this area; his tempo fast. A malicious wind rushes in and changes the flight of the ball, sending it wide of the target. He can’t see where it landed. The course taunts his mind as he walks.
His ball has been swallowed by a bunker short of the green. It holds the ball proudly in its open gape like an oyster does a prize pearl. His walk across the sand has lost all resemblance to the beach. He gauges the depth and firmness of the sand as he walks.
“You’ll never make it past that lip. It’s way to high. You need more power” the course taunts. A high grassy lip sits eye level. He tries to stare at the flag beyond it but the bunker seems to thrust itself into his vision. He stares at the ball as his mind fights off the taunting of the angry course. It blurs into the white of the sand. In a smooth practiced motion the ball is sent airborne. The course cackles with glee; it has rolled to the fringe on the far side! Climbing out of the sand and standing at the edge of the green he faces an ancient dilemma. He must choose to putt or to chip. The course has burst forth with a sea of confusing advise. The green bubbles and the hole seems to move towards then away from him. With confidence a putter is selected and the course flies into a rage; it’s innermost is nearly penetrated.
He kneels and stares down the green to the hole. The green stares back. It disguises its topography by reflecting sunlight off its blades of grass. They lean in random directions creating artificial hills and valleys.
“This grass is fast, putt it soft” the voice taunts. “But you don’t want to leave it short. Hit it with power. That’s not far enough right, make it more.” He stares at the hole for focus and finds none. It dances about in his vision. The hole stands ready to eject any ball traveling faster than a speed it decides. It pushes up its plastic sides to stop any balls just slow enough. The golfer studies his foe before standing at ready. Breath held the ball is sent rolling. A great roar erupts around him as the ball drops into the cup. He celebrates his victory as the course begins to retreat. Retrieving his ball he stands by the flag; the course has returned to its original tranquility. He turns, smiling, to do it all again.