Sunday, July 17, 2011
Ft Worth Rules
Well, first of all, I want to thank the Greens Committee for this opportunity to explain our side of the incident which occurred this last weekend. I am fully confident that a complete airing of the facts will vindicate myself and my golf partner of any misconduct. I am sorry that he will be unable to join us today, not due to any reluctance on his part to appearing before the committee, I assure you, but rather because of a physical incapacitation which I am sure you all readily understand. Neither of us would do anything to jeopardize our good standing here at Bear Creek.
I must provide some background prior to that explanation, however, so I will thank you in advance for your patience.
The first thing I want to clear up is that we are not anti-social; it's just that not many other people really want to be outside in the noonday sun in Houston in August. It so happens that it is convenient to our schedule, however, and we don't mind. It was REALLY hot that day, though, and humid. Even the mosquitoes were kind of half-hearted in their pursuit of bare skin.
The second thing I want to say, is that neither J.D. nor I was drinking on the course -- not that I think there is anything wrong with drinking on the course. It is true that we were drinking in the 19th hole bar later, but I think that even our harshest critic would have to admit that was the only sensible place to be and the only prudent thing to be doing after the round we had.
The last thing is that at the par five first hole we ourselves had no idea of the disaster awaiting us; we just had in mind a leisurely 18 holes of golf.
So when I duck-hooked my drive onto the driving range, I wasn't worried. When I did finally find my ball among all the range balls, it was a simple matter to punch a three iron through the trees back out into the fairway with hardly any loss of yardage at all. And when J.D. hit his customary slice among the trees alongside the dry creek bed, it was no challenge to his manly mien to plop a seven iron over the trees back into the fairway. That left us both mid-irons to the green, where we both got pars and J.D.'s was a sandy.
Now I can tell by the restlessness of my audience that something is amiss, but whether it is some unreasonable indisposition to listen to the presentation of our case in an orderly fashion, or a biased inclination to be skeptical our abilities, I don't know. I can perhaps limit myself to a bare recitation of the facts, but I refuse to be brow-beaten into a less than adequate defense.
So, even on the par four second hole, when J.D. had caromed his drive off a boulder in the dry creek crossing the fairway onto the hardpan rough on the right and I had hit mine off the toe onto the froghair of the sixth green, our confidence was still high. It was unfortunate that J.D. pulled his second shot into the water on the far side of the fairway, just as I pushed mine over into the woods on the same side, but somehow we both managed bogeys with good wedges near the hole.
All right, to keep it brief, let me just say that we were both short in the sand on the par three Third -- the ball just doesn't carry in that humid air -- and J.D., who is a better sand player than me got up and down for his par, but I had another bogey.
We were standing on the fourth tee, feeling reasonably good about things, taking our time, when we first saw him, this John Henry Firk, hurrying up to catch up to us. He caught our attention first because of his walk, a kind of double-jointed, bowlegged walk and dragging his clubs in a hand-cart that swung back and forth like a rental trailer when you get going 70; then, because of the way he was dressed, not like any other golfer I ever saw: he was wearing a feed store gimme cap, a western shirt with pearly buttons open to the middle of his chest with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, button-fly blue jeans bagging in the seat and cheap athletic shoes without spikes.
"Cactus," says J.D. "We're in for it, now."
I don't want to leave the wrong impression here. We recognize that day players are an essential part of the club's income. J.D. and I enjoy playing with these itinerants because they add a little variety to our game.
Hurriedly teeing off without this singleton was not an option. The Civilized Etiquette of Golf does not allow this.
"Howdy," he said. "Name's John Henry Firk -- mind if I join you boys in a little pasture pool?"
I don't think I can stress too strongly the misgivings J.D. and I felt, but we were stuck. In retrospect, I can see that all of the following events could have been foretold right then and there. But even so, like when you make eye-contact with a panhandler on a downtown corner, what can you do?
"Whyn't you boys go ahead and tee off while I catch my breath," said John Henry. And without rolling his eyes more than once or twice, J.D. did.
Now, by the fourth hole, J.D. gets an idea how big his slice is going to be that day, and he can allow for it. Four is a long par four dog leg right, which is perfect for J.D. when he hammers it.
"That was right good," said John Henry as we watched J.D.'s ball bounce on the baked earth, "Prob'ly good for 240". A drive like that makes a fellow mellow, and the generous sentiments John Henry expressed so humbly may have caused J.D. to forget his suspicions, but I did not, which caused me to mis-time my sway and toe it down the right hand side along the trees till my natural hook took over and brought it back out into the middle, not as far as J.D.'s, but good for me.
"You boys set a high standard," said John Henry as he addressed the ball. I don't think I'll be telling any secrets if I say John Henry was clearly an autodidactical golfer. He waggled like Will Rogers doing his rope act in the Follies. He shuffled his feet as if he were at a barn dance. He swung like he had picked up a hot branding iron by the wrong end. The ball hopped like a jack rabbit. In April in Houston, that ball would go about 75 yards. In August he got about 175, through the dogleg, into the rough. He was delighted. "Hot Damn," he said, "I'm ready to play now!"
I have already spoken of the character of J.D. He is made of the right stuff. "Good shot," he said, while I was struck speechless. J.D. gently guided me back to our electric cart. John Henry was off like a greyhound, with his hand cart swaying behind him.
J.D. and I are just a couple of duffers, we have no pretensions to greatness, but we do like to preserve a little of the Spirit of St. Andrews in our golf and we felt like playing a round with a rodeo clown might make that difficult.
Since the committee now includes women -- of which I wholeheartedly approve -- I will spare you any description of the iron-play of John Henry Firk. Suffice it to say that only a technique such as his would allow the taking of a divot out of hardpan. After his first iron shot I could watch no more myself, and I could see that J.D. was swallowing hard.
Somewhat shaken, we both missed the green with our third shots, and, after John Henry had rejoined us with a hearty "At least we're all dancin' now", three-putts seemed in order. By this time, if not before, J.D. and I both knew our ball was out of round, in a manner of speaking.
The Fifth was more of the same, with John Henry fearlessly foozling balls left and right, to the detriment of our game. As J.D. moodily puffed his cigarette, twisted around in his seat to watch John Henry do violence to the course with golf form that I cannot even bear to recollect, we bantered plausible excuses to offer at the ninth green: "My pager has gone off", "I have wrenched my wrist", "I think my appendicitis is acting up", but we couldn't come up with anything that sounded convincing to our own ears.
"Where'd you learn to play golf?" asked J.D., ever the polite conversationalist -- I was trying to give John Henry the silent treatment to see if he could take a hint, but J.D. is just too nice a guy. He hasn't got a slow fuse, he has no fuse at all. I've seen him patiently wear down more than one obnoxious drunk with implacable courtesy and good humor. Never heard him say a bad word about anyone except his ex-wife, and that was more in sorrow than in anger.
"Ft. Worth," said John Henry Firk.
"Is that the Colonial CC?" asks J.D. because he's no angel, but that seems like a harmless joke to me, although it did seem to give John Henry pause.
"Naw, the Haltom City Course," said John Henry, not without pride, "We got a twi-lite league there that plays on Tuesdays. 'Course it's not as nice as this 'un; we play winter rules up there all year long."
At the par three Sixth, John Henry made a shot I only believed pros could make, skipping his ball over the water four times with topspin, onto the green. J.D. had missed right and I, left.
"Haw-haw, Haw-haw. I almost made it!" cried John Henry.
Stress and tension are death to a short game, so it was no wonder we both took sixes, while John Henry, rounding into form, three-putted for a four.
"My honor, I believe," he said as he teed up on Seven. He made a lasso loop with his driver that would have made Gay Brewer wince and for once, instead of a rabbit, hit a line drive, on an oblique to the line drawn by the course designer. But it glanced off one of those huge sycamores that line the fairway and bounced back in the general direction of the hole.
"Haw-haw, Haw-haw. We call that a TCU bounce," said John Henry, "You got to belong to the right church to get that kind of bounce."
Well, J.D. has been down here about 15 years, but he comes from Chicago, and the ways of the Southwest Conference still confuse him sometimes. His sterling character includes a healthy portion of religious tolerance, so he said nothing, but he pull-hooked his drive into the rough, which is a sure sign of sublimated anger in a confirmed slicer.
My own drive was sinfully weak, since I was suffering inner torments myself, and it was a mercy when we were able to hole out with an 8 and a 9, while John Henry circumnavigated the green in a tightening spiral gyre so that he was down in 7.
Throughout the eighth and ninth holes, John Henry regaled us with other insights into the game of golf as offered by the philosophy of our northern neighbors, including the White Rock Roll, the Camp Bowie Bend and the Cherry Street Drop-Off. All of which was quite educational, but it made me all the more surprised when we sped by the clubhouse at the turn to go straight on to 10, with John Henry in hot pursuit.
"We are playing on?" I asked.
"We are playing on and we are going to beat this character," said J.D., "Beat him like a drum."
"Well,then, I've got to go back to the pro shop for another sleeve of balls," I said, "I lost the last of my good balls in the lake there on 9."
"Go on then," said J.D., "and I'll wait here for the Pro from Ft.Worth."
If I had ever had feelings of ill foreboding before, I had them doubly now. I don't think I had ever heard J.D. resort to such black sarcasm before. Preying on my mind also was an uneasy wariness of any unknown golfer from Ft.Worth. I've heard enough from Dan Jenkins and Lee Trevino to know that the place is full of nothing but a bunch of sandbagging sharpshooters just looking for a couple of duffers like me and J.D. to hustle.
By the time I got back to the Tenth tee, J.D. and John Henry were finalizing their financial engagement. J.D. was talking through gritted teeth camouflaged with a fixed grin, and John Henry was talking around bites of a huge chili dog, so I didn't quite catch all the nuances of the bets placed for the last nine holes, but I figured someone would tell me what I owed later, anyway.
I must have still looked confused, cause John Henry said to me, "Look Podner, these is Ft. Worth Rules, they're real simple: this is a skins game with carry-overs, nobody gets any strokes and anyone can press." This of course confirmed my worst fears, that we were sheep to be shorn to this North Texas Sharpy.
So we teed off. John Henry hit a slicing worm-raper down the middle, I hit a waist-high hook down by the lake. That didn't worry me too much, I've been down there before. Ten is a short par-four and if you can just split the sand traps that guard the front of the green, you can roll a three-iron right onto the green from there.
I could see there was trouble for J.D. when he addressed the ball. His jaw was still clenched -- his hole body was clenched. He was no longer playing a social game. He was not playing for money. He was playing to put this misfit back into his place. To send him back where he came from with the knowledge that in Houston, if not in Ft. Worth, we know how to play golf, both with skill and style. Where before he had played with internalized irritation and muted disgust, now he intended to play with righteous wrath, as if Jesus had discovered the Philistines cutting divots on the practice green and was resolved to cast them out.
Or, to put it another way: he topped it. Not with the forceful overspin John Henry had been putting on the ball, rather with the sort of scalping that used to really ruin a ball before surlyn covers came along. The ball barely rolled forward to the next tee box, well behind the red tee markers.
"Hawhaw, Hawhaw." John Henry was amused. "Remember I said this was Ft. Worth Rules! You're gonna have to leave it out on the next tee."
When J.D. flubbed his second shot, I didn't reckon there was any need to wait for the storm to break. I grabbed my putter and three iron and said, "Meet you on the green," and trudged off to my ball. J.D.'s face was black and his knuckles were white were he gripped his club. I figured my only hope was to halve some holes so that the damage to my wallet was minimized. I didn't reckon J.D. was going to be any help. The cryptic caution of John Henry didn't quite register with me then, nor J.D.; we had other things on our minds.
I once read about a tournament that Ben Hogan lost. He was always in trouble because he kept landing in his divots from the day before. Of course, they were in the fairway. But there I was, in the rough by the lake where I had been many times, and by some providential intervention I was able to roll my three-iron shot between the traps onto the green even though I hit it thin.
When I got to the green and looked back at J.D. I was sorry to see that he looked more like a hockey player working the puck than a golfer. He must of been laying about 7 by that time, but no way was he going to pick up. When he got into wedge distance, he finally had some luck though and got under the ball. It was a little short though and buried itself in the right-hand trap.
"Hawhaw, Hawhaw, Hawhaw," laughed John Henry. "Better get that spatula out of your bag; that's the only way your gonna get that fried egg out of there!" The guy just had no idea when to lighten up.
J.D. got out well, all things considering, and I got down in three, to half the hole with John Henry.
Eleven is a long par four running parallel to Ten that I have never reached in two in my life, so I was more or less resigned to losing. But even that despair did not prepare me for the next events. John Henry hit another line drive back onto the Tenth fairway, scattering the foursome behind us, and I hit a kind of weird pull slice down the left hand side, just off in the rough.
J.D. stepped up to the ball with a haste that could have been mistaken for eager confidence, if you hadn't seen him drive on the previous hole, when John Henry spoke, "Hey, Podner, ain't you forgetting something?"
As I keep saying, J.D.'s manners are more or less faultless, so he only had a quizzical look on his face, as if he had forgotten what he was doing in mid-waggle; I am sure that my own reaction was more obvious, even if it was short of fainting dead away. I think it's only slightly less heinous to shout at someone when they step up to the ball than to goose them when putting. To me, there are some things you just don't do.
J.D. only said, "What's that?"
John Henry said, "This is Ft. Worth Rules, you know."
"There must be something about Ft. Worth Rules you forgot to tell us," said J.D. "because I haven't got the foggiest idea what you mean."
"Well," said John Henry with exasperation, "I reckon everybody knows the basics of the game they play."
"You mean golf," said J.D. with exaggerated politeness.
"No, I mean Ft. Worth Rules," said John Henry.
"You're going to have to remind me what all that means," said J.D. as he backed away from the ball and leaned on his club like it was a podium.
"I mean," said John Henry, "when you don't drive past the women's tee on the previous tee, you have to hang it out on the next hole to prove you belong back here with the men."
"Very funny, John Henry, v-e-r-y funny" said J.D. as he picked up his driver again to address the ball.
"I'm not kidding about this. At all." declared John Henry, "I am one hundret percent serious about this."
"Well if you think I am exposing myself on this golf course to satisfy your interpretation of these so-called Ft. Worth Rules, you've got another think coming!" said J.D. with dignity. I have already tried to stress how essentially conservative our outlook on the game of golf is, so the committee must be able to see how distasteful even such a suggestion was to us.
"I don't care what you call it," said John Henry, "but a bet is a bet. What I know is you are going to follow the rules we have agreed on."
"Oh yeah?" asked J.D.
"Yeah." declared John Henry, and with two long steps he was in J.D.'s face ready to change the name of the game to pugilistics.
Now here I might say a word.
The world is changing; we are intelligent men -- and women -- and we see that is changing, we acknowledge it and adapt to it. Whether it means using a graphite shaft instead of a titanium shaft or cavity-back, gooseneck irons instead of forged irons or two-piece balls instead of three-piece balls, we change with the world. In the world outside Golf, we recognize these changes also, that if we cannot make cars anymore, we can at least sell them, and so on. But every change so profound has casualties, and I would like to think that John Henry Firk was one of those victims, a wild animal caught in the merciless onrushing headlights of changing civilization. Some years ago, in Ft. Worth, John Henry would have been comfortably engaged at the stockyards, ropin', brandin' and ridin'. There he would not have seemed so out of place, and if in the middle of some competition such as bronco bustin' or steer wrestlin', he felt like rolling around in the cow-patties with some casual acquaintance, why, no one would raise an eyebrow. Indeed, such an episode is a necessary preamble to a friendship in those quarters.
But here it was out of place. In golf, a sniffle during your opponent's backswing is considered violence.
J.D. considered his options. I could read each of them in his face as he ticked them off. I was thinking, too. Quick action with my driver might have been taken, except that I had seen John Henry take a huge divot out of the hardpan on Four, and somehow, my own stiff-wristed half-slosh seemed inadequate to the purpose.
J.D. finally said, "OK," and once decided upon his course of action, never wavered. There was no furtive rubbernecking. There was no hesitancy or trembling as he bent to his purpose. Instead there was a sort of proud defiance as he unencumbered himself.
About J.D. I could have told you many things: that he is classically good looking, tall, dark and handsome; that he has a real savoir-faire, especially when he smokes; that he has a friendly demeanor, a candid disposition and a ready laugh. So it never surprised me that he had a way with women. What did surprise me is that in addition to these ephemeral qualities, he had been gifted with non-standard equipment by the Pro in the Big Pro Shop in the Sky. In a world of five-irons, he was Jumbo Driver with an extra long shaft. Even John Henry was impressed, but where he had had words to praise J.D.'s best drive, he was now struck dumb. He and I both receded from the tee box. It was all we could do to keep from bowing.
All doubts and confusion had disappeared from J.D.'s mind, his face had the regal complacency of the Dalai Lama as he waggled. He seemed almost offhand as he made his backswing. He was positively serene as he swung effortlessly through the ball. Where before he had rushed and lunged, now he made a faultless turn. The contact of his driver to the ball made no sound above the whoosh of the club. The apogee of the ball was so far down the fairway that it seemed surprising that it landed at all, fully 310 yards, straight as an arrow, with none of the slice J.D. was wont to hit.
I can explain that, too, as J.D. explained it to me later, in the bar. We have all seen various devices for improving the golf swing: there are the coat-hanger, the hula-hoop, the noodle and a hundred other gimmicks which are palmed off on duffers desperate to break 100. I remember my dad talking excitedly about one to keep your head down during the swing by attaching a fishhook to a headband. Possibly the only one of these that is worth the $39.95 you pay for it is the Tassel. I am sure you have seen it advertised on cable TV late at night, during which some hopeless celebrity slicer is cured by some non-touring pro using the Tassel to teach him to get over the top of the ball. Sort of like a sash with a weight attached to it; supposed to help you time the pace of your swing, or something.
Well, J.D. had his own Tassel. From the first backswing, he told me, it was clear he was onto the real McCoy. J.D. had always made the correct hip-turn, but the pace had been wrong. Now with his own metronome to keep time, arms, legs and body were all perfectly in synch.
J.D. waited not for our accolades, but merely replaced his driver, took his seven iron and strode off down the fairway. He walked alone, with a graceful gait that covered the yards quickly. John Henry was moved to action only when the awesome presence had receded sufficiently.
"Haw," he croaked weakly, "Goddang. Did you see that?" he muttered as he wandered off to his second shot.
I was no less amazed or affected, but I felt the jury was still out. We have all had simple cures for the complex problems Golf presents to us, which have not proved out over the long haul. I don't know how many times I have thought "Ah! This is the final great secret to golf." and done well over a few holes, only to plummet back to reality like Icarus under the heat of competition.
I nudged my ball on towards the hole with a skimming three iron, while John Henry flailed away on the right. It was not possible for his game to get worse, no matter what the trauma, but he seemed sort of dazed. So it was necessary for us both to take third shots before J.D. had his second. He waited in the fairway ahead of us, like the Colossus of Rhodes facing the green, indifferent to our puny struggles.
When it was his turn, I was struck again by the placidity of his stroke and the its power. As if he had been tutored for years by Zen masters on the means to release his inner strength. The ball flew straight again, in an impossibly high parabola. It's hard to tell sometimes from 160 yards away, but the ball appeared to hit the flag stick on the first bounce and drop dead.
Once again he strode off down the fairway, leaving us to our own devices. We crept up to the green like supplicants as he studied his putt. He waited patiently while we fumbled around and then tapped in his six-footer with nonchalance.
He had not spoken since the Tenth tee, and he did not speak now; he merely gestured, "Follow me."
On the par three Twelfth, John Henry attempted to re-assert control. "You can put that club back in the bag, now," he said, "I reckon you have shown you can hit from the men's tee."
J.D. looked down his nose at John Henry like he was someone giggling while Arnold Palmer was putting, "I'll be pressing that bet, now." With a glacial backswing he hit another 160 yard seven iron that backed up all the way from the rear of the green past the hole. That was good for another tap-in birdie. J.D. raised an eyebrow and pointed a shoulder at the next tee, then left.
No matter how well one plays on a public course, ordinarily, a crowd will not develop. In this case, however, the Thirteenth fairway and tee abut the road to the western entrance to the club, and there were cars coming and going. Now, as the committee has already recognized, it was not J.D.'s superior play that caused the first car to stop, but rather the way that he stood on the tee like Cortez squinting into the vista before him -- a wide-open expanse of fairway that had always allowed J.D. to give free reign to his slice. I am sure that this time, though, that J.D. was looking for the optimal patch of grass to land on. While I offered him his driver, which he took absent-mindedly, I noticed that now there were three cars parked off the road, near the tee.
"I presume you'll be pressing, now," said J.D.
"No, I am not," rejoined John Henry.
"Well, then, I will. How else are you going to get your money back?"
"But, but, that's, let's see, 4 -- 8 -- 16 -- THIRTY-TWO DOLLARS!" cried John Henry. He turned a conspicuous shade of green, and a certain barnyard redolence heretofore unnoticeable about his person became more obvious.
"Yes, very good, John Henry," said J.D. mildly and once again he waggled and whooshed, as if he had grabbed the club in a mid-circle that had always existed and will always exist. This ball had a much lower trajectory, say 75 feet in the air or so, with a compensating roll. The scorecard says 350 yards to the green on that hole, and all I can tell you is that J.D.'s second shot was with a putter.
Generally, we speak of the yips only in a putting context, but something similar afflicted John Henry at this point. He took his stance, but could not swing at the ball; he just stood there with spittle on the corner of his mouth. Eventually, he made a palsied attempt that rolled about 150 yards down the fairway. J.D. took off down the fairway, followed by his gallery of 18 people or so, from the six cars now parked on the road.
The last I saw of John Henry Firk, he was slinking down the West Road back towards the parking lot. "Does this mean you concede?" I hollered, but he did not acknowledge me at all.
Now I presume that what the committee's actual objection, aside from the fact that J.D. was partially disrobed, relates to the damage done to the course by the gallery at this unscheduled exhibition. That's fair enough, but you cannot deny that his golf was of the highest caliber. Anytime anyone sees a crowd wandering around a golf course, or hears their audible appreciation of the spectacle, that person will be attracted to join the crowd. That is simple psychology. There were 30 members of the entourage by the time we reached the green. When J.D.'s Texas Wedge failed to drop, the mass disappointment was keen enough to be heard back at the club house, which drew more interested parties. The crowd's gratification at his third tap-in birdie in a row emptied the bar.
I had driven on Thirteen, but I never took my second shot. I was reduced to the role of the caddy. I could never have played so publicly, but J.D. was oblivious. Walking to the Fourteenth tee, he signed several autographs.
Only I was privy to his inner most emotions; only I had seen how many times on Fourteen J.D. had sliced out onto Highway 6. Those were massive drives themselves, though misguided. Today, however, he heeded neither the water on the left nor the fairway bunkers on the right. I feared that he had actually driven the lake on the right, normally not in play, but he had drawn this ball away from the water. What was amazing to me was not the 300 yard drives, but the control J.D. exhibited, especially on his approaches. It was impossible for him to have more confidence now than he had had with the first stroke, but I could see the satisfaction in his eyes growing with every shot.
The wild appreciation of his fourth tap-in birdie was mere prelude to the orgy of celebration at the Fifteenth, where he eagled the long par five.
The par four Sixteenth challenged J.D. only by its short length with the water guarding the green coming into play. J.D. cunningly laid up with a 220 yard 5-iron, then hit a 115 yard half-wedge dead to the pin.
Since the consensus of the crowd now numbering over 200 was that another tap-in birdie was a foregone conclusion, many stampeded over to get ring-side positions at the green at the par three Seventeenth. They sensed that something historical was in the offing.
Nor were they disappointed. Two hundred collective breaths were held as J.D. began his backswing. Two hundred pairs of eyes noted the serendipity which was joined that moment between form and opportunity as the ball flew in the air with the inexorable, awesome inevitability of an eclipse. Two hundred throats gave voice to their wonder as the ball landed, checked, released and trickled into the cup.
The bedlam surrounding the green prevented us from retrieving his ball, so we left it and proceeded directly to Eighteen. Short of the tee, there stood an officious little man with such a puckered, pained expression one might think his lemonade wasn't keeping him regular.
"What is the meaning of this?" he demanded.
"Just playing a little golf, Marshal," I explained, "We have been going a little slow because of the crowd and all, but we'll pick it up."
"Look at the mess they're making: the flags from the back nine are all missing and some of them are cutting pieces of turf out of Seventeen! You're going to have to discontinue your round and leave the course," he said, "And you," pointing to J.D., "had better close your barn door!"
J.D. remained regally aloof, oblivious to these imprecations. Meanwhile, the crowd became aware of the Marshal's intent.
"Let him play," cried out one voice. "Go away. Let him play" responded a chorus, which was picked up as an anthem by the throng: "Go away. Let him play. Go away. Let him play. Go away. Let him play." while the press of humanity separated us from the Marshal and carried us to the tee, where they made an artificial amphitheatre for J.D. to drive. I could see the Marshal fighting to get through, without any luck.
Eighteen is a long par four dogleg with a large lake guarding the green. J.D. pulled his 3-iron, waggled like the Pontiff dispensing benedictions and scorched a bullet about 240 yards, just short of the water. We all proceeded down the fairway, J.D. accepting the adulation of the crowd like the Messiah on Palm Sunday.
When J.D. reached his ball, I handed him his 9-iron. The crowd fell silent when he addressed his ball. As he made his backswing, a hand reached into his inviolate space and grabbed the club.
"I told you to leave the course, you filthy exhibitionist! Now zip up your pants and w-a-a-a-u-g-h. . . . ." the Marshal screamed as the crowd swallowed him back up. J.D.'s club spat back out as if an indigestible. I could see only a terrible roiling and convulsing amongst the members of the gallery. A seething clot migrated over to the edge of the lake and the Marshal was disgorged with a very satisfying splash. Hoots of derision and catcalls followed the Marshal as he swam towards the clubhouse, away from the crowd, waded ashore and hastily disappeared.
J.D. watched all this with dispassion. When the spectacle ended, he turned to the ball and calmly laid the ball dead to the pin. With the crowd still cavorting all around the green, he tapped the ball in.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, it would be extremely unfair to hold J.D. and myself responsible for souveniring which took place. As for the damage done to the course by the crowd trampling the fairway, we must also be held blameless. And as far as the injuries to the course Marshal, both J.D. and I express sympathy but accept no responsibility.
As to the charges of public nudity, if that's what you are calling it, I ask for each of you men to consider whether you would have done any different. J.D. says for himself, he will play no longer "en deshabille", since the physical consequences are too severe: the sunburn he got that day has proved inconvenient to the point of interfering with his social life and his other obligations, such as this conference. But I happen to know he has installed a net in his living room, so that he can practice in the privacy of his own home.