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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 8, 2015

One afternoon I had the chance to meet a couple of friends on the course for a quick nine. We were paired together for a scramble at our church the next weekend and we admittedly needed the practice.

As I was driving to meet them, I started reflecting on my marriage. After seven years, we had become too predictable. No itches mind you, but more than enough rashes and hives from the children.

With the kids, the mortgage, the bills and, of course, the job to pay for all of the above, we had landed in a sand trap.

In college, it seemed like everything enjoyable in life centered around our time together. People always said that we were the ones who lit the fires, but lately it seemed like we had forgotten the matches.

Golf was an escape for us. I’d chase that stupid white ball around a deep green golf course and would never get any better.

My wife drove the electric golf cart, always wearing a shorts-and-tank-top set, dark sunglasses, and a white golf visor. For ten yards in either direction, you could smell the unmistakable scent of cocoa butter. The only reason she went was to get a suntan.

If the truth were known, the only reason I went was to watch her.

One afternoon, she studied my golf swing more intently than ever before. Finally, on the seventeenth hole, she came out with her notion.

“Let me try to hit one.”

At first, I thought it was a novel idea. Then I changed my mind. Golf was a man’s sport, or so I thought. “You? You can’t hit a golf ball. You’re a girl.”

“Thanks for noticing. Just the same, I think I can lose golf balls as well as you can.”

A very true observation.

I handed over my 3-wood and dug the tee into the hard clay at the tee box. Without even a practice swing, she promptly knocked the ball straight down the middle of the fairway.

When we got to our balls, her drive was five yards further than mine. From that day on, she started playing golf.

Some of the best times we shared early in our marriage were on the golf course. We’d go in the mid-morning before the temperature would climb.

The time we spent together laughing and teasing under the sun cemented our relationship. As I pulled into the parking lot outside the clubhouse, I realized how much I missed seeing her on a golf course.

All the guys at church looked forward to playing our annual tournament. Mike and Danny, a couple of fellow church members, were going to play on my team along with a mystery partner.

Hopefully someone who could drive and putt, our collective shortcomings.

Every team invited someone outside our church to play. Sort of a community involvement thing.

What I always found amazing was how all these strangers could hit the cover off the ball and always straight down the middle!

Let’s face it, there are more ringers in a church golf tournament than in the children’s bell choir.

When I got to the practice green, I saw Danny and his wife, Beth, pulling out Danny’s clubs. A second golf bag was resting on the side.

“Whose clubs are those, Danny?” I asked, expecting him to say that next week’s mystery golfer was already inside the clubhouse, paying for our tickets.

“Why, they’re mine,” said Beth as she threw them across her shoulder.

“Yeah, she’s my secret weapon today. She tees off from the women’s tee box, you know. With her drives, we are guaranteed at least a good one.”

I snickered at the thought of a woman playing golf… then I caught a whiff of cocoa butter.

The three of us spent the afternoon chasing balls, hitting horrible iron shots and missing almost every putt.

Danny and Beth didn’t care. They enjoyed playing golf together in a way that I suddenly recalled.

It’s not the winning but the losing together that matters most.

As we were starting to leave, the conversation came to the tournament. Danny asked, “Well, do you think you can find a fourth player by Saturday?”

“Yeah. Playing this afternoon reminded me of the perfect partner.”

I came home to find my wife in the kitchen. She smiled and asked, “Did you play well?”

“Nope. Just as hopeless as usual.”

“How did the others play?”

“Hopeless as well. We need a fourth player for the tournament and I think I found one.”

She looked up at me with those bright eyes and asked, “Really, who?”

“You.”

Surprise grew across her face. “Me? I haven’t played golf in years. I can’t help you win.”

“Can’t help us lose either. But it sure would be nice to see you out there again.”

That next Saturday, the four of us played golf on perhaps the most beautiful spring day that I can recall.

We laughed and teased all over the course as shot after shot missed the mark.

On the last hole, we finished with a score of 79, seven shots above par, buried deep in last place.

Afterward, the awards were handed out and we got the prize for having the roughest day, a kind way to say we lost.

Each of us received a sleeve of shiny pink golf balls for our hard day’s work.

On the way back to our table, I put my arm around my wife’s waist and whispered to all four of us, “These guys just haven’t figured out who really won…”

Harrison Kelly
Chicken Soup for the Soul: [Tales of Golf and Sport]
http://www.chickensoup.com/  Changing Lives One Story At A Time 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 1, 1991

One of the more interesting traditions in golf is the handshake at the end of the round. It’s an agreeable gesture, and one that suggests the just-finished match was somehow comparable to gentlemanly combat.

But there’s another good reason to shake hands. Call it sudden and fleeting friendship. I’ve seen it happen countless times: at both heavily starched clubs and weather-beaten munis.

Some bond occurs during a round. Four strangers meet on the 1st tee, eye one another carefully and set off. A few hours later, they will be striding off the 18th, wreathed in convivial grins and sticking out their paws like old lodge brothers.

Acrimony is possible, of course, even if it’s unspoken. Like all social interactions, there is always the danger of some livid fractiousness. Curiously enough, it will likely have nothing to do with politics.

The golf course might be the last place left on the planet where snorting political opposites can meet in charmed equanimity. In golf, there is, however, a real social chasm that divides people. Religious differences have nothing on this. Economic disparity, you say? No, it’s much more grave than that. It’s all about pace.

Take those four strangers on the 1st tee. As they work their way down the fairway, they are glancing nervously at one another’s golf game and get-up, dealing with the gnawing fear that one of them might be the jerk who ends up trashing the afternoon round.

The gaper who views a round of golf as an excuse for laughing it up with pals and a cooler of beer on the back of a cart, this guy will be a little trepidatious about sharing a round with some lean and hungry police dog of a player.

You know the guy — pressed and immaculate, hits a 2-iron farther than you hit your driver, finds time to count everybody else’s strokes and penalties. As my mother used to say, a real pill.

But if, like me, you hate carts and love a good, zesty walk and a snappy tempo, the sight of a guy weaving up to the first tee in a golf cart, steering with his elbows as he juggles a mug of beer and a slice of pepperoni pizza… this is enough to make you grind your teeth into powder.

The handicap system might make it possible for players of various skills to play together, but there is no equivalent system for balancing out the fast players and those who play at what might politely be called a leisurely pace.

The brisk players don’t call it that, of course. Especially when they’re trimming their jets on the tee-box of a par 3, their faces turning steamed lobster red while the cheery schmoozers on the green ahead pause to finish off some magnificent shaggy-dog story. If the jolly putters only dared look back at the tee-box, they would see the walking definition of Lock & Load.

I would count myself among the game’s hot-footers, even while I know there are some scratch players among my acquaintance who consider me slower than Bolivian mail. It’s all relative. I hate to be one of those seething schmucks, forever jingling the change in his pocket as he waits in the fairway, but that’s the way I’m wired.

It was one of those chance meetings on the golf course, however, that changed my whole attitude. After work one day I had stopped off at a short executive course for a fast nine. I had, alas, not quite left the office tensions behind. Ripping along at an over-caffeinated pace, I was just butchering the ball.

After hockey-sticking the ball around the 3rd green, I stormed up to the next tee-box and came upon an old man, sitting alone. A sad smile came over him and he waved me through. “Go on, feller,” he said.

Stooped, frail and quavery, he was in shocking shape. Studying him more closely, I was gripped by the fear that he was minutes away from death. I throttled back instantly and said, ever so casually, that I’d be glad to join him if he so obliged. He was so tiny, so sparrowlike, I figured that if something happened I could carry him back to the clubhouse on my back.

After bunting a short little drive up the fairway, he confessed that he’d just left the hospital, where his insides had been keelhauled. He had spent four months on his back, dreaming of the watercolors he’d paint someday and thinking of this very course. We poked along in the gloaming, talking of all these matters.

When we were done, I walked him back to his car. He pulled out a little portable canvas seat so he could change his shoes. He told me to look in the trunk, and there I saw some of his new watercolors.

The lines were done by a shaky hand, but they were bold. I helped him put his clubs away and we shook hands one last time. As he drove off, it occurred to me that after joining up with him, I had played out the last six holes in level par.

After that, whenever I’ve felt my nerves ratcheting up like a paint-making machine and my game about to go spiraling out of control, I try to think of the calm deliberation I felt that evening with the old man. Next to him, I felt like Hercules. So why not feel that way all the time?

A year later I saw that man again. He was on the next fairway over and waved heartily as he strode down the fairway. He still had that determined stride; stronger, but calm and paced.

That day a year ago, I thought I was helping him; but it was he who taught me a lesson of a lifetime.

Chris Hodenfield
Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Golf Book 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 4, 2004

Like every golfer, I can’t wait for the start of the golf season. But I have a special reason: my new playing partner, my 8-year-old daughter, known affectionately as “the Terrorist.”

When she was only 2, her mother and I bought the little rascal a child-sized seven iron. It was way too big for her, but she dragged it around the house. About the time she was 5, she started accompanying her daddy to the driving range and putting green.

She and I chipped around in the back yard until she started to hit the ball with some authority. One day, she put a Titleist through the bathroom window, which resulted in a torrent of tears After that, we confine golfing to the driving range.

Then last spring, I said to the Terrorist, “What do you say we play ‘real’ golf on a ‘real’ golf course?

“Yeah! Daddy!” came the enthusiastic response.

So the following Saturday morning, we drove to a nine-hole, par three course. It is a family-friendly course with slow greens, a driving range and a putting green on which to warm up. One rarely has to wait at the first tee.

After a torrential rain, water collects along the left side of the first fairway. And a ditch lies along the second fairway. Otherwise, it is hard to get into trouble on a course with virtually no rough. Just the place for an 8-year-old, and her daddy.

And so Daddy and the Terrorist played their first round of golf together. Golf is, a wonderful game to teach life’s little messages to little girls.

“First of all, you have to count all the strokes, even if you accidentally bump the ball, and it rolls an inch,” I instructed.

The Terrorist caught on fast and insisted on keeping score. “So you got a 5 on that hole?” I asked. “No, Daddy, I accidentally hit the ball on the hill, and it moved, so I got a 6.” And she dutifully recorded the 6. I could be wrong but I think we have the making of an honest child here.

“Daddy, the ball is behind a bush, can I move it?”

“No, sweetheart, you have to play the ball where it lies, no fair moving it.” Another of life’s little messages.

On each tee, I dutifully filled my divot sand, then filled at least one more. “Always leave the golf course in better shape than you found it.” I advised.

Since then, she has methodically attempted to rebuild every tee by filling every divot.

There is something about sand and kids. When the Terrorist knocked her ball into a sand trap, she would have spent the next hour making sure it was absolutely smooth. “No,” I admonished, “there are people waiting on the tee, and we can’t hold them up.” That led to a simple lesson on slow play and about others around you and how your actions have an impact on them.

Once, when we were two holes ahead of the some behind us, we stopped to fix some extra marks on a green and to practice chipping. For 10 minutes, she chipped the ball at the hole, and I putted it back to her, another of life’s little lessons: Practice makes perfect.

For now, golf simply is fun. Hit the ball hard, go find it, and who cares what the score is. We spend little time on the driving range with very elementary instruction, but nothing serious. In another two years, if she still enjoys the game, we will see about some lessons. But for now, it is just a game.

On a short, 60-yard hole, the Terrorist drove the green and landed her ball considerably inside her dad’s shot. That was a momentous accomplishment, which later was recounted in great detail to her mother.

Two hours after we teed off, the Terrorist and I returned to the clubhouse to drink lemonade, eat candy bars and (at her insistence) add up the score.

She leaned back in her chair, pushed back her golf visor, looked at me with her child’s eyes and, and said, “Daddy, that was a lot of fun! Let’s do this again!”

And we did, all summer long.

By Donald Hoke

MorningStoryandDilbert

There was this preacher who was an avid golfer. Every chance he could get, he could be found on the golf course swinging away. It was an obsession.

One Sunday was a picture perfect day for golfing. The sun was shining, no clouds in the sky, and the temperature was just right. The preacher was in a quandary as to what to do. Play golf or give the Sunday service.

Shortly, the urge to play golf overcame him. He called an assistant, told him he was sick and asked the assistant to take care of the Sunday church service for him. He packed the car up and drove three hours to a golf course where no one would recognize him. Happily, he began to play the course.

An angel up above was watching the preacher and was quite perturbed. She went to God and said, “Look at the preacher. He should be punished for what he is doing.” God nodded in agreement.

The preacher teed up on the first hole. He swung at the ball and hit a perfect drive, straight as an arrow, four-hundred yards right to the green, where it gently rolled into the cup (as they say in basketball, “nothing but net”). A picture perfect hole-in-one. He was amazed and excited.

The angel was a little shocked. He turned to God and said, “Begging Your pardon, but I thought you were going to punish him.”

God smiled. “I did. Just think about it… who can he tell?”

--Author Unknown
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