When I was using Google to search for additional information about the Big Dogs, I came across an obituary of a member known as J. D., who died a little over two years ago, at the age of sixty-nine. The obituary described him as “a man of his word who was content with what he had and always treated everyone the way he wanted to be treated.” It also said that he had “invested in the youth of Bay County, coaching basketball, baseball, and soccer, including the Mosley Girls’ soccer teams.” Mike Riley, who introduced me to the Big Dogs, told me more:
J.D. turned “golly” into about a five-syllable word. Think Gomer Pyle. He owned his own car repair shop, and I knew him as the engine whisperer. One day, I was having trouble with the air-conditioner in my Honda, which had a quarter of a million miles on it. He popped the hood and listened. Then he got a three-foot-long screwdriver and stuck one end of it on the engine and the other end to his ear. After about ten seconds, he said, “Bad compressor bearing.” He was right.
J. D. was a below-average putter, Riley said, unless he’d had a couple of beers, at which point “he magically became more aggressive than Tom Watson in his prime.” The Big Dogs used to play a supplemental nine-hole game, called the Extra-Nine Scramble, after their regular Saturday Dog Fight. “In one of them,” Riley said, “J. D. putted first and sank it on all nine holes.”
Lubed or not, J. D. had trouble with the shanks. “But not ordinary shanks,” Riley said. “True hosel rockets. But, strangely, he seemed to hit them only on two holes: No. 7, which is our signature par 3, and No. 12, a rather nondescript par 4.” The photo above is an aerial view of No. 7. “The yellow line is the flight path of J.D.’s worst shank,” Riley continued. “It went over a corner of Little Jim’s Shack, then almost hit a house before splashing down into North Bay. The star is where a J. D. shank came within inches of taking out a bicyclist. After that, we allowed him to tee off on No. 7 only after a two-direction traffic check had been completed.”
The photo above—which Riley describes, accurately, as “Zapruder quality”—shows J. D. as he dressed for the Big Dogs’ regular Christmas Eve golf game. Do you have a regular Christmas Eve golf game? Don’t you think you should?
To be continued.