As I mentioned a couple days ago in this space, I reentered the world of golf. My golfing buddies were Peter Sharkey, who is also my workout partner at GB3, and Sean Carey. Peter is a much better golfer than I am. And Sean is a much better golfer than Peter. An example was Saturday’s sojourn up 41-N to Brighton Crest - or whatever they call it now.
Sean and I drove in the same cart. We chatted it up the entire afternoon which, if you’ve ever played with me - or simply know me - will come as no surprise. At the end of the day, when scores were totaled, I was thrilled I broke a 100. Since I’m oblivious to most things golf, I was stunned when Peter told us Sean shot a 73. As in one over par 73. This reminded me of another golfing story that occurred several years ago.
During that time I was teaching math at Buchanan High School. One of my colleagues in the math department was Greg Funk, former record holding baseball player at Fresno State (and prep star at Serra HS where, as a senior, he had a frosh teammate named Barry Bonds). Greg was drafted and made it to Double A when he decided the major league dream might be just that.
As with many ex-”team sport” athletes, Greg picked up golf (tennis being the other favorite sport for this group). Others had told me Greg was a really good golfer but never did I think that the guy who, not too many years before, was the leading home run hitter in Bulldogs’ history, was quite so proficient.
My history of playing golf was mostly limited to going out with guys who were a lot better than I was - about 10-15 strokes better. One day Greg and I hooked up on the course and rode in the same cart for a round with another two friends (whom, for the life of me) I can’t remember now. Greg has just a gorgeous swing, straight down the middle - pretty far down the middle. His approaches are terrific and his short game is good as well, including his putting.
I’ve always told people that if you’re a totally focused and an incredibly intent golfer, don’t play with me. Occasionally, you’ll have to wait 2-3 strokes before you finally get to hit because “I’m (still) away” is something you’ll often hear from me. However, if you’re looking to have a good time, I’m a fun guy to be around. I’ve always been told I have an excellent sense of humor and a quick wit. Since I realize I’m not about to join the Seniors Tour anytime soon, I don’t take the game too seriously. But you can bet I’m going to have a good time.
This attitude also means I don’t take in exactly what’s going on. For example, the score. So when, at the end of the round, when people started asking Greg (who was keeping score) what their scores were, he gave them theirs and then said, “Jack-o, you had a 92.” Out of curiosity, I asked Greg, what’d you shoot?”
“What!?” I exclaimed. “You know, Greg, I thought if I ever played with a guy who shot a 68, I’d be more impressed.” I meant it as a compliment.
Now it was his chance to go off. “What? You be more impressed? I just shot a 68 and you’re not impressed?“ To say he was incredulous would be one of the great understatements of all-time.
I began to back pedal. “It’s just that if I ever thought I’d see somebody shoot that low, that there would be a hole-in-one, 40′ double-breaking putts, holing out from the fairway. All you do is hit it straight down the fairway (a mile), reach the green and then two-putt. OK, sometimes one putt. Sure, you had a couple birdies on par threes but it was . . . boring.”
He then gave me a lesson I’ve never forgotten. “That’s how you shoot a low score. Be boring. Guys who chip in from ten yards off the green are usually the same guys who three- and four-putt the next hole.”
Throughout the years, we’ve told and retold the story - about how shocked I was and how pissed he was - and we have a good laugh, along with those who are hearing the story for the first time. The moral is to think before you speak on something you know very little about. Or you might find that:
“The only time you open your mouth is to switch feet.”