Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Sweet Taste of Victory

The day had started out badly and was ending even worse. As I dejectedly chased after another skulled trap shot, I was embarrassed. The groom-to-be and the other golfers in our pre-wedding tournament stood around the 18th green. My futility was exposed for all in this small world to see clearly. Another 7 was added to my score. "86" I whispered when my host, the groom's father, asked for the total damage.

"We have a tie for first place". Luckily, I had managed to find a group of golfers whose level of incompetence was greater than mine. Out of 15 who hacked and chopped their hour upon the stage, only one other had scored equally as well, or more accurately, equally less badly.

"We will have a putt off to decide the champion". It had been announced at the beginning of this first, and hopefully last championship in honor of the pending nuptials of my friend's son, that a trophy would be awarded to the winner. Before the round, I had taken a glance at the statue of a gold-brown golfer in mid-swing and wondered aloud if it was at least edible.

This was one of those days where even the broad side of the barn was too small a target for me to hit with a putt. Speed and accuracy both proved elusive goals. We were about to enter a gunfight in which I had no bullets. My opponent was 30 years my junior and did not possess the natural twitch while putting that seems an integral part of the game for most my age.

From about 15 feet, the great sudden-death shootout of 2011 began. Age, going before beauty, I stepped up and proceeded, to my great surprise, to hit a putt that was at least in the right general direction. But the winner was not chosen on that basis, and as the ball came to rest, the hole remained unscathed. My young opponent fared no better, and it was decreed that 15 feet would now become 8 or 9. Everyone had to get to the pre-wedding dinner party, and this already had the feel of a fun idea turned stupidly wrong.

The order was switched for the second attempt, and I soon discovered that there were 2 of us who could putt badly. Thus, given a second shot at glory, I stepped up and ....

"Let me take a picture". As I held the trophy aloft, my host took a picture of an old man, with the wide grin, his hat on backwards, looking as if he had just captured one of the four majors. For one day, in this small and very ugly universe, there had been no one better. As I lay my clubs down in the trunk of the car and gently placed my proof of excellence next to them, the crowd disbursed, their thoughts already having moved beyond the course.

So tomorrow, when I am once more hacking and chopping, shaking my head and wondering why am I doing this to myself again, I will have the memory of the great and stirring victory dancing in my head. Winning, especially clutching my symbol of excellence tasted sweet, even though I discovered to my disappointment, my new friend with the golden- brown facade was not made of chocolate.

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