On those rare times when I leave the Pond to recreate, I enjoy a game of golf.
I have no defense for this behavior. I take no pleasure from the social pretension that attaches itself to the game like a rumor to a Republican’s bottom.
I just like the feeling of hitting something small very far with something long and thin.
It’s like taking a stick to Tom Cruise and watching him fly a couple of hundred yards and land with a gentle plop.
You know, fun.
Occasionally, I go to local golf courses and the nice chaps in the pro shop ask me to play with strangers.
As every five-year-old knows, some strangers are very nice. Others, not so much.
Which brings me to the other day, when the man in the pro shop suggested I play in a skins tournament.
I won’t bore you with the details. Essentially, a bunch of people go out and play and there’s a little bit of money for the one who makes a better score than anyone else on a hole.
The stranger I was asked to play with was called Plonker Supreme. (You can probably guess this isn’t his real name. And if you get to the end of this story, you will hopefully see why it should be.)
We stand on the first tee and Plonker is already speaking in a very loud voice. Perhaps my prejudice for modulation is excessive, I don’t know. But golf courses are supposed to be places of serenity.
Plonker is also clearly a very keen golfer. It is important to him which shoes he wears, which balls he hits, and which clubs he hits them with. And he wants to tell you all about just how important all these things are.
He also talks to himself.
” Alright, Plonker. Now just make the same swing! You know the one!”
By the time we got to the fifth hole, I wanted to be in the fifth hole.
I hit my ball up towards the green, and it seemed to disappear. When we reached the green, we could see it was submerged in the wet ground.
Plonker knew the rules. He explained that as my ball had landed in closely-mown grass, I was allowed to remove it from the hole and place it.
This apparent helpfulness did not prevent him for continuing to be a hemorrhoid.
Every time my ball was on the green, he would insist I mark it and take it away. Even if it was nowhere near his own line of sight.
Then he began to get mad at his shoes. Apparently, they were special golf shoes, made with little clips like ski boots. His clips kept opening just as he swung his club back.
To me, it seemed poetic. To Plonker, it was an outrage. He was going to make complaints to the clip manufacturers, the shoe makers, perhaps even to some poor golf professional who no doubt had endorsed these contraptions.
By the time we reached the seventeeth hole, the idea of being an incontinent’s underwear seemed somewhat attractive.
Plonker, hitting first, smacked his ball into some rough behind the green. When we reached the green, he was not happy. Plonker clearly wanted to win the $34, or whatever the prize was, very badly indeed.
First, he claimed his ball was plugged and therefore he could move it.
With glee squeezing my epiglotis, I reminded him of the rule he had taught me on the fifth. His ball was not in closely-mown grass. It was, well, in the shit.
So he reached for another rule.
He declared that his ball was lying in ground under repair.
Which, it was swiftly pointed out to him, it wasn’t.
Having tried that one, he then decided to play two balls, one his real one, the other a so-called ‘provisional’ and then go into the pro shop to plead his case.
Who knows what case? Who cares? We’re playing for thirty bucks here.
And this man is trying to cheat his way to those thirty bucks.
What kind of self-obsessed, self-important, self-aggrandizing, self-delusional being had been thrust upon me?
Plonker was a prosecutor.
The law may or may not be an ass, but there was no doubt about this lawman.
As I staggered off the last green, ready to go to the first place of worship to beg forgiveness for my sins, I suddenly remembered something Plonker had said, perhaps as early as the third tee.
” I’m not married,” he declared, the decibels denting the nearby mountains. ” I’ve never found a woman who can tolerate me for long enough.”
Though it seems like everything is going to pot, we can still, in some small corner of the world, find both honesty and justice.