Saturday, January 2, 2010

Golf Medicine

I learned last night that Harvey Penick titled his first entry in his Little Red Book, Golf Medicine, a title that I choose to interpret as too similar to the title of my blog to go unnoticed. There, I've noticed it.

Today at Balboa Golf Course in the Valley, after I practiced my putting, chipping and then hit a small bucket of balls, I waited in line to ask the starter whether I would have other golfers joining me for the first super-twilight tee time at 3 P.M. As I stood in line, an old man in front of me started screaming at the starter, cursing as much as anyone I've ever heard, threatening the starter and actually reaching through the bars of the open window to try to grab the starter. The dispute, I discerned by parsing the curse words, had something to do with money and what the curser took to be a smart-ass comment by the starter. The cursing continued for 30 more seconds as the guy slowly walked away from the starter. When the epithets no longer were within earshot of us, the guy immediately in front of me said, "Happy Holidays."

I only had time to walk nine holes—and finished the last one in the dark, aiming my half-wedge shot between what appeared to be bunkers and hoping my shot landed somewhere near the pin (I was 30 feet long). I did not score well (a 10-over 47), only shooting one par, on the second hole (the 278-yard drive helped), but my putting was very solid, even though only one putt of length fell, and I enjoyed playing the game with three good golfers, all strangers to me but regulars on that course. The front nine, though not in great shape, is very long (3541 yards from the blue tees) and the greens are enormous and surprisingly good, considering the number for rounds they see. Despite hitting a decent shot out of a greenside trap on the first hole, my scoring irons inflicted most of the damage today. I need to improve my chipping dramatically if I am going to bring my scroes down.

The course and its sister course, Encino, are 12 miles from my apartment, and I paid $11.50 to squeak nine in before dark. Besides being outdoors in good weather, getting some execise by carrying my bag for nine holes and once again not having a three-putt green, I also didn't cuss out anyone. Including myself.

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