Some things you can't unsee.
My male roommate shaving his legs, or catching a "Good by 03-11-2004" date on a beer I had just finished in 2009 are two of the images forever burned in my mind. However, these ingrained events don't have to be exclusively traumatic.
In fact, one of my most vivid childhood memories involved a golf-course breakdown of Homeric proportions. One which, while awkward at the time, never fails to bring a smile to my face.
I was playing in a golf tournament during my senior year of high school. Despite the innocuous, beautiful autumn scenery, the course was something fierce that afternoon. The type of day where a profuseness of fallen leaves -- although majestic -- makes finding one's Titleist a pain in the behind.
One of my competitors was having an especially tough go of it. This cat turned the front nine in 47, and things didn't get particularly better on the back. The player in question was normally a calm guy, but the high numbers broke his psyche early, leading to numerous club slams against his bag.
Unfortunately for him, the consequence of this act swiftly manifested its ugly head. During the back nine, his club shafts, one by one, started to snap. His continual bag swings -- reminiscent of a lumberjack cutting down a tree -- were taking their toll on his sticks. If memory serves correctly, at least four clubs were splintered in this manner.
Had the tale ended there, it was have merely been a cautionary narrative against losing one's temper. Luckily, at least for posterity's sake, the story was just getting started.
The 13th hole was a 180-yard par-3. In the face of incessant wind, it was playing closer to 200. Guarded by a large bunker on the right and thick heather outlining the hole, a tough set-up in any condition. Coupled with the wind, along with our protagonist's journey to a radio-station score -- a Magic 101 or 98 the Zoo -- the hole was ripe for destruction.
My competitor proceeded to top his shot off the tee box and into the heather. Unfazed, he grabbed a provisional. His reload took a similar flight.
He managed to put his third try into the bunker. After executing a hell of a sand shot, he had 10 inches or so to make his seven.
His tap-in went 270 degrees around the hole, but not in the cup. Snowman.
Following the miss, his putter went helicoptering towards his bag. Dramatic, yes, but I'd seen similar throws. What I hadn't seen, however, is what he did next. And I swear on my mother's life, the following is true.
When the last man in our group finished out, our beleaguered compadre took the flag and, in a scene straight out of Happy Gilmore, chucked the stick in shot-put fashion towards the high stuff.
In terms of form, his execution was flawless. That baby sailed for days. Alas, after eight seconds of magnificent, "Did that really just happen?" awe, it became apparent that our playing partner needed to retrieve the flag, as there was still a group left on the course.
One problem: he couldn't find the flag.
Not helping matters was the yellow hue of the flag and stick. Plus, we weren't exactly tracking its destination, which was a point of consternation with an opposing coach.
"How can you take your eye off it?" he wallowed.
"How is that your first question?" was my reply.
We spent a good 15 minutes trying to locate that bad boy. Our search party grew to 20 or so spectators. My favorite part came from someone's grandpa, who inquired, "What did the flag look like?" in the same cadence as seeking for a lost ball.
"Oh, you found a yellow flag with a 16? Sorry, we're looking for 13."
Why do I bring this up? Because, this past weekend at a golf outing, I witnessed a meltdown that makes this affair look civil.
But the treasure chest of golf course blow-ups is so rich that we want you to share in the harvest. Send us your stories either in the comment/Facebook sections, via the GoldDigest Twitter account or email (joel_beall AT golfdigest.com). We will run the best selections later this week, along with my promised weekend experience.
As for the ending of our story, the flag was ultimately discovered. I suppose it's not a surprise it took so long to spot. As Mark Twain once wrote, "It takes me a long time to lose my temper, but once lost I could not find it with a dog."
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