I've only played a couple rounds the past few years and I don't really know why, except to say that my game has disintegrated to an embarrassing degree, I lose my balls a lot shorter now, arthritis has gnarled some fingers, and many of my old cronies have quit, retired, split up, or developed other interests.
So, as this long winter and its recent sub-zero cold snap cause my mind to wander to the glories of springtime, I find myself thinking about the early years living in a house next to a golf course.
I've named this bit of poignant reverie, "Fore! Your ass!"
A few years ago, my family and I willingly moved into a house that sits in a beautiful setting flush behind the number eight green of the Cherokee Golf & Country Club.
We spent some bucks, time and thought fixing the place up, including constructing a large, second-story deck that would enable us to sit in total relaxation enjoying food and beverage, while watching the golfers below and gazing at the wonders beyond with a bird's-eye view of the rolling, rural Iowa horizon and northern sky.
Many times we hasten out to the deck to sit under the 4-foot roof overhang with a gentle rain tickling our legs and feet, watching the lightning and storm clouds roll on by. It is awesome.
We also knew that along with a house on a golf course, there would be some "traffic" in the yard consisting of errant golf balls and embarrassed golfers trudging through the open gate in the fence to retrieve their balls.
We have no problem with this. All the golfers know, or should know, that it's OK for them to retrieve their errant shots that overshoot the short, par-3 hole and land out of bounds in our back yard.
I play golf, for heaven's sake, and know the pain of adding penalty strokes to the score, let alone losing a $3 ball.
But what really gets me is when some "golfers" fly the green by 50 or 60 yards or more and clank a ball off my steel siding.
Yo, pinhead. That leaves a mark.
According to the score card, the 8th hole measures 116 yards, give or take a few yards, from the original tee box straight north of the green. The newer, second tee box for that hole, measures about 130, give or take a few yards. The women's... 'er front tee, measures 104 yards, according to the card.
All I can say is, "HOW THE HELL DO YOU OVERSHOOT A 120-YARD HOLE BY 50 OR 60 YARDS?"
Do you have a brain tumor? Are you off your meds? Are you in a chemically altered state and doing it on purpose just for giggles? Did the steroids kick in on your back swing? Do you need a power surge protector?
Or, are you simply that poor of a golfer? If that answer is yes, take two weeks off and then quit. Take up another sport like snorkling. Over Niagra Falls.
One day a ball clunked off the house just below the bedroom window on the second floor. I stepped it off. The ball traveled 180 yards over a 30-foot tall apple tree before striking the house, hitting 14 feet up on the steel siding, leaving a nasty dent.
Let's see... a=b-c+£¢∞ªº--≠πø*... carry the *... had my house not been there the ball would have traveled at least 230 yards.
Yes, I kept the ball, but it wasn't a very good one. The guy who hit it was a stranger and will forever remain one. To hit a ball on a 116-yard par-3 hole 230 yards requires some kind of mental shortcoming. The number of clubs he carries in his bag exceeds his IQ. You look up "Golf Course. No Trespassing." in the dictionary and his photo is there.
In the past few years we've lived there, there have been dozens of balls hit into the yard. Every time we mow, my son Alex and I find two or three. A few have rattled off the deck and stairs, which also is simply too far for any kind of golfer with any kind of ability whatsoever to mis-club and fly the 8th green.
While diminishing my wife's early fears about living on a golf course with young children and a house with windows, I eloquently pointed out that it's a trade-off and no different then living in a house at seaside. You have to learn to accept a little sand, a little salty sea spray at high tide, a few seagull droppings, and an errant sand crab or two, I said.
One very intelligent woman I keep finding out, she said, "You're talking about nature, you moron. Some fool hitting a golf ball 60 yards off course is not natural. Did you get hit in the head by one of those golf balls?"
It's just a matter of time, I told her. Just a matter of time.