Nobody else could play on Saturday, so I decided to do chores and pay bills. But then I noticed that the temperature was almost 60, so I took the dog for a quick walk and went to Candlewood Valley as a single. The starter sent me out with Barbara, who had followed a similar logical path to the golf course. We were joined by Kevin and Steve:
Steve was trying to master a new 65-degree wedge, which he had ordered from an infomercial. It’s the ideal club if you want your ball to end up either almost exactly where it started or in that pond over there, on the other side of the green. Kevin started playing golf just this year. Pretty quickly, Barbara and I learned that when he was hitting the best place to stand was either a little bit behind him or to the left. Nevertheless, he did hit a few good shots, including this tricky one, on the seventh hole:
Barbara is the technology person at a private school for special-needs kids. She began her career, in the late nineteen-seventies, at IBM, and she took up golf when she realized that most of her male coworkers played. More recently, a friend from work invited her to fill in for his regular partner in his weekly golf league, which was all men. Some of the regulars grumbled, but the pro told her to ignore them, and after she had subbed a few times they invited her to join the group. Because of her experience in the business world, she understands one of golf’s darkest secrets: most of the men who play in corporate outings suck, and a women who can hit her driver even a hundred yards can end up being her foursome’s most valuable player, since she gets to play from the forward tees.
Barbara recently switched from women’s shafts to senior men’s shafts, and when she did, she said, she picked up twenty-five yards with her driver. Her mother, who is 90, also plays golf. She took it up in her fifties, and when she was in her mid-eighties she won the women’s nine-hole championship at the club she belongs to, in Florida. “I would put her chipping and putting against anybody’s,” Barbara said. Barbara has four grandchildren, and she is trying to get them interested in playing, too—so far without much success.
I went back to Candlewood the next day, with the Sunday Morning Group.
We played an old game of ours, called Fathers & Sons: the four oldest guys versus the four youngest. It was the second round of our winter-long competition, the Jagermeister Kup.
The course was crowded and slow, and we were pretty sure we were going to going to have to finish in the dark, with glowing balls, since at this time of year the sun is basically gone by 4:15—and when we made the turn, at 2:45, we saw that there were three groups on the tenth hole, which is only about three hundred yards long. But then the starter suggested that we replay the front, which was now empty except for a single two holes ahead. Plus about a million geese:
We ended up playing a four-hour round the hard way: two hours and forty-five minutes for the first nine, an hour and fifteen minutes for the second. Everybody played better, because there was less time to think between shots. And on the last hole we caught up to the single. Out of the way, pal!
The Sons beat the Fathers by a stroke, after making a miraculous charge on the second nine. Damn. But we had fun, and in the parking lot, as we were leaving, I spotted a solution to my car-clutter problem:
We’re going back on Friday, unless winter suddenly arrives.