The Trolls And The Magic Ball

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
I ramble on about everything but eventually get to the story.

Submitted: February 17, 2015

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Submitted: February 17, 2015

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PROLOGUE

Most of the time, I’m a firm believer in logic and reason.  Common sense.  Science.  Things like physics, chemistry, and biology.  Math is the language of science.  Physics is the base of the scientific mountain.  Chemistry rests on top of physics.  Biology sits on top of chemistry.  The field of systemics ties all the fields of biology together, and ties biology to the sciences it is built upon. 

I was a professional student, once upon a time.  I didn’t want to pick a major.  I didn’t want to graduate. 

Unfortunately, both of those things eventually happened.  What is worse, I had to get a job after that.  But money is good.  Forget what they say about money being the root of all evil, or the love of money being the root of all evil.  Neither of those things are true.  Money is not just good, it’s damn good.  There is no such thing as too much. 

But money can mess you up just like anything else.  Not everyone can handle alcohol, or cash.  Some people are better off sober, some are better off poor.  Not me, on either account.  But money is way better than alcohol.  I can go months without a drink.  If there is a reason to party…

Back to the topic of beliefs.  Notice I said most of the time.  I’ve decided that life is too short to only believe in science.  There’s got to be more.  You can call it what you want.  If you say it is religion or God, I’ll never disagree with you.  I might argue with you over details.  For the purposes of this story, we’ll call it magic.  And the places where the magic occurs the most readily, where it is always most apparent, are referred to as golf courses.

That’s for me, by the way.  If it happens to you in your church, hanging from a parachute, or in your garden, those are good places as well.  A wise man once said, to thine own self be true.

Plus I’m just kidding about it happening to me on the golf course.  It can happen anywhere.  Even on the computer.  But for the rest of this story, we’re going to pretend like golf courses are more magical than everywhere else.

I ONCE WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE

You have to be born with a second set of hidden eyes, like I was, in order to see the magic on golf courses.  You’d be surprised how many of us there are.  We don’t talk about it around you two eyed folk.  Only when just the four eyed ones are together on the course.

Then we relax and open up our second set of eyes.  But we can’t even do that all of the time on the golf course.  Sometimes there are two eyed people playing golf.  We don’t want to let them see our extra set of eyes.  It would freak them out. 

Two eyed people on our golf courses is something we just have to put up with.  The only way anyone can tell if they have a second set of eyes is to play golf.  Us four eyed folk can’t tell by just by looking at someone.  But once we get you on the golf course, we can always tell after a couple of holes. 

When we see that, one of the old folks like myself will pull the newbie off to the side and explain what is happening.  Just like what happened to me, on the back side of the first green at Piedmont Golf Course so many years ago.  That dude could tell I had the extra set of eyes after I’d hit just one shot.  I took to golf like a duck to water.

This is how it works.  You can’t really figure out how to use your second set of eyes until someone explains it to you.  Which leads to a logical conundrum.  How did the very first four eyed person figure it out?  The religious four eyed folks say God revealed the truth to the first four eyed Adam.  The scientific four eyed folks are always running experiments to try to figure out how it happened.  They believe there is a logical explanation for everything.  I am certain they are both correct.

So the four eyed ones are always telling each other how important it is for the two eyed folks to play golf.  All of us were two eyed once, before we knew we had another set.  But deep down inside, all of us wish that no one with just two eyes would ever set foot on a golf course again.  At least not while we are playing.  Because when they are here, the magic mostly goes underground.  It is never quite the same.

THE ETIQUETTE OF GOLF

Golf has a lot of rules, more than most sports.  You can go to www.usga.org and follow the links if you want to purchase a copy.  Also, you can get a copy of Snoopy And Friends Address The Rules Of Golf, presumably written for younger golf nuts.

But the important part of golf is not the rules, it’s the etiquette.

Etiquette falls into two general categories.  The first deals with how you treat other golfers and the golf course.  This type of etiquette will tell you not to talk or move around while another golfer is hitting the ball.  Replace your divots.  Fix your ball marks.  Keep the carts on the cart paths.  Things like that.  You will find many books and articles discussing that category of etiquette.  But that’s not the most important part of golf etiquette.

The most important part of golf etiquette is how you deal with the magic.  Our kind decided a long time ago not to write any of that down.  We’d just pass it on by word of mouth.

Up until now.  I have decided, against the wishes of the Council of Four Eyed People, to go public.

THE ETIQUETTE OF MAGIC

Mostly it is a bunch of suggestions.  I won’t use the term rules, because once magic starts, there aren’t a lot of rules.  It’s things like, if you see a troll out of the corner of your regular eyes, don’t try to look straight at him.  That always unnerves them, and that can lead to bad shots on your part.  Two eyed people are not aware how much influence trolls have over golf.  That’s the reason they are not that good at it.

We pretend that technique is the most important aspect of golf.  We spend hours on the driving range and the putting green.  Those activities are useful, only to the extent that they allow you to communicate more clearly with the trolls.  That communication is what leads to low golf scores.  The ability to be clear and honest with trolls.  Only use your second set of eyes when the trolls are around.  Knowing how to use your second set of eyes is the real secret of golf.

It’s more complex than it sounds.  You have to make the trolls like you.  That is a hard thing to put into words.  Because everyone who is good at making the trolls like them, does it a different way.

Me for example.  I talk pretty salty to the trolls.  I poke fun at some of them pretty hard.  And they seem to like it.  Why does that work for me?  I think it is because that is how they see me treating my buddies when we play golf. 

It’s a hard game.  I see my buddies getting nervous, and playing too fast.  That is disastrous.  So I start up with some standard insult I’ve dished out a hundred times before.  “Your wife put your bad shot shoes on you this morning?”  “Are there any clubs in your bag that know how to hit a ball in the fairway?”

It sounds mean but when someone is obsessing whether they can get the next shot over the pond, a mental slap might be just what they need for a little giggle and some stress relief.  If they laugh a little, they will relax and slow down.  Everyone needs to slow down on the golf course.  Among other places.  The trolls get nervous if you are nervous.  They are relaxed if you are relaxed.  See how that works?

For me, once I get started slamming my buddies, I can’t help but to send out those same kind of brainwaves to the trolls.  I may have forgot to mention another thing that goes along with having an extra set of eyes.  Telepathy with the trolls.

You can’t talk to them like you use words to talk to other people.  But they feel your emotions.  So sometimes, when I use my second set of eyes to send my juju to the 3rd green troll, it could be translated roughly like this:  “Oh Troll that is shorter, fatter, and uglier than all the rest, may I please have a birdie putt?”

I figured out that the 3rd green troll has a sense of humor and he likes that sort of stuff.  All trolls are different.  And they are all moody.  I don’t get birdie putts on the 3rd green every time.

You can’t do much about their moodiness.  But if you treat them the same way you treat your golf partners, that puts them at ease.  They will trust you then.  Never expect them to actually like you.  That’s asking too much. 

WHAT BEN HOGAN DIDN’T TELL YOU ABOUT GOLF

Everyone who knows anything about golf knows that everything you need to know about golf is in a book written by Ben Hogan.  It is called “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons, The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.” 

That is an exaggeration, I do that all the time.  There is much more to golf than what Mr. Hogan wrote.  But it is a thorough discussion of the mechanics of the golf swing.  You can throw all that crap you see in commercials during golf tournaments in the garbage can.  If you want to find out if you’ve got a second set of eyes, buy Ben’s book, read it, practice it on the driving range, then head to the course.  It’s only 127 pages long.  Ben was very economical with words.  And Anthony Ravielli drew some awesome illustrations.

Here’s another secret I may get into trouble with the Council over divulging.  Ben’s first draft of the book was called “Ben Hogan’s Seven Lessons.”  The sixth lesson was about trolls.  The seventh lesson was about the Magic Ball.

The publisher was a subsidiary of the New York Times, and they almost had a cow when Ben wrote so honestly about trolls and the Magic Ball.  He was like that.  He was brash, he spoke his mind, and he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

And he wrote the book in 1957, almost 60 years ago.  Heck, I wasn’t even born then.  America was a kinder gentler place back then.  Not really.  But some of us insist on rewriting the past to suit our image of how we think the world should be.  For people like me, it really was like Leave It To Beaver.  For others, it was a terribly unfair place.  For many, it still is.

The publisher insisted on taking out the last two chapters.  Too controversial.  Like Galileo saying the Earth revolves around the Sun.  

Doesn’t matter, it’s still the best golf instructional book ever written.  And here’s the really good stuff.  I have the original manuscript.  I have the other two chapters.  I found the yellowed, dog-eared, typewriter written first draft.  In an attic at a yard sale, right next to a painting by a fellow named Anton Picasso.

The painting caused me all sorts of grief, I’ve already documented that in another story.  But the extra two chapters have been my secret weapon all these years.  And now, at the risk of turning the world of golf completely upside down, I am revealing them for anyone who cares to know. 

I’ve already told you most of the important stuff about trolls, so now we’ll go over chapter seven in some detail.  Because the Magic Ball is the most important part of golf of all.

THE MAGIC BALL

Before I tell you about the Magic Ball, I want to tell you about Ben Hogan.  Because he is an inspiration.  As a golfer, as a person who overcame adversity, and as a curmudgeon.  You can learn much about any of those things from Ben.  He was quite the character. 

Ben became very famous as a golfer.  The story of how he recovered from a very bad automobile accident is well known.  Only the people around him knew he was a curmudgeon.  If you spent time around him, you couldn’t help notice that.  I know it because I read a lot about golf.  Every one of his contemporaries had a Ben Hogan story or two.  Kind of like how every boxer from the 60s and 70s has a Muhammad Ali story.  For a short, slender man, he could be quite intimidating.  You didn’t want to get in a staring contest with him on the golf course.

Hogan had a rough start in life.  When Ben was nine, his father blew out his brains with a shotgun.  He dropped out of high school and became a professional golfer before his 18th birthday.  He barely got by his first ten years as a professional.  Various times during those years Ben had to work other jobs since he was making so little money playing golf.  But he did meet and marry his wife, Valerie, during those tough times.  She was no doubt a significant factor in his success.  He was going to need some help to deal with what would happen a few years later.

In the world of golf, Ben was a late bloomer.  Once he started winning, in his late twenties, he never looked back.  Except for the two years he spent in the military during WWII.  A lot of folks had their careers on hold at that time.  By the end of 1948, Ben had won 51 professional tournaments, including 3 majors.  For any non-golfers, there are four major tournaments each year.  They are golf’s equivalent of the Super Bowl.

Then a head-on collision with a Greyhound Bus changed everything.  It left him with a crushed pelvis, and fractured ankle, collar bone, and ribs.  He suffered near fatal episodes with blood clots while hospitalized.  Once he needed emergency vascular surgery, the doctors had to perform a risky procedure with little time to prepare for it.

Amazingly, he recovered well enough to resume his professional golf career after a year of recovery.  And he picked up right where he left off.  He won one major the first year back, two the next.  Then, he had his best ever year in 1953, winning 3 majors.  If your name isn’t Tiger Woods or Ben Hogan, you’ve probably not done that.  He ended his career with 63 professional wins and 9 majors.  You’d only need one hand to count the folks who’ve topped that.

But none of that comes close to the awesome stuff he put in chapter 6 and 7 of his manuscript.

THE MAGIC BALL (for real)

If you are born with the second set of eyes, and you learn how to use them, you may be able to see the Magic Ball.  Not everyone with a second set of eyes can see it.  I’ve seen it, but I don’t have much control over it.  I’ve only seen it a few times.  If you’ve ever seen it once, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  If not, you probably aren’t going to believe me.

When you can see the Magic Ball, you know you are going to have a good day on the course.  Put your money on win, if you are a gambler.

In actuality the Magic Ball is just your golf ball.  Physically, there is nothing different about it.  What makes an ordinary golf ball into the Magic Ball is when your second set of eyes is perfectly in tune with your regular set.

For people with two eyes, they see a lot better if their eyes are in focus.  Everyone has experienced double vision when that doesn’t happen.  But everyone, two eyed and four eyed, spends their entire life using their ordinary set of eyes.  With few exceptions, most of us have eyes that stay in focus with each other all of the time.

But that is not necessarily the case between the two sets of eyes us four eyed folks have.  Each time we play, we struggle with keeping the two sets focused.  That can make it hard to communicate with the trolls.

It’s not that they are out of focus by much.  If that were the case, you wouldn’t be able to use your second set at all.  That happens sometimes, not often.

If both sets are perfectly lined up, you can tell.  Even your ball looks different.  Like it is emitting a halo.  Something more than just the light that reflects off of a shiny urethane surface.  Like Magic.

You never know when you’re going to be able to see the Magic Ball.  Mostly for me, I only saw it one shot at a time.  It would go away as quickly as it would appear.  I see it every time I make an eagle, or a long birdie putt.  Or when I hit some wildly curving shot to get out of the trouble I’d just gotten in to.

Only twice did I see the Magic Ball for an entire round.  The first time was while qualifying for my high school golf team.  I have already written that story, although I haven’t published it yet.  The second time was when I faced down Sonny Hembree for the Maynard county championship.

Sonny Hembree had been the bane of my existence in high school.  We were the same age.  He went to Pritchard Academy, where all the silver spoon kids went.  I went to Maynard County High, where the plastic spoon kids went.  Some of us only had a spork.

Not only did I face off against Sonny in golf, I played against him in basketball as well.  We were equals at golf.  Each time we played, it was always close.  My final golf record against him, including the county championship, was 3-2.  But in basketball, he always got my goat.

There were two sources of basketball frustration.  Size, and mouth.  Not that he was bigger than me.  The opposite was true.  If we would have wrestled, I would have picked him up and thrown him over the top rope. 

It is true I got him pretty good on a couple of hard fouls.  I always subscribed to the theory that if you are going to get a foul, you should make it count.  That’s how I was taught, anyway.

But Sonny was one of those little guys that could run circles around me.  Even if he was dribbling the ball with one hand, I had a difficult time keeping up with him.  Not that I needed to the whole game.  I played center, Sonny played guard.  It was never my official job to cover him.

But basketball is a dynamic game, and Sonny was quick enough to frequently break free.  Then it was up to me to stop him.  Maybe one out of five times, I actually did.  Not that Sonny was the only basketball player I couldn’t keep up with.  He was just the only one who did so much trash talking about it.  Sonny knew how to dribble around you, and get under your skin at the same time.

Which is why I was so nervous, after the second day of the county championship.  He and I were tied for the lead, and four shots clear of the man in third place.

Now, you can’t really trash talk in golf.  There’s no rule against it.  But obnoxious golfers find themselves playing by themselves.  Mostly, you don’t want that.  And I knew I had the game to beat Sonny.  That didn’t stop me from having a squishy stomach.  And it distracted me enough, stepping off the back step of the pro shop, that I turned my ankle. 

I’ve seen guys fracture an ankle coming down wrong in a basketball game.  This was just a sprain, but it was bad enough.  I considered the option of withdrawing from the tournament.  But my pal Earl had taken the day off to be my caddie, that was a sacrifice for him.  I limped around a little on the ankle to see if it would hold up.  Then I pulled a ball out of my bag.  And saw the Magic.

I don’t know for sure that the sprained ankle brought on the Magic Ball.  If not, it was one hell of a coincidence.  I never sprained my ankle on purpose to test the theory.  I don’t want to know that badly.

All I know is that Sonny Hembree and I played dead even that day, all the way to the 17th hole.  Even with me limping around on one good ankle.  I’d get a shot ahead, then he’d make it back up.  We went back and forth, but standing on the 17th tee, we were tied.  The next closest competitor was five shots back.  It was going to be him or me.

I’d been feeding the trolls all day, and so had Sonny.  We hit our drives in the fairway, both good shots.  He hit his second shot on the green, 25 feet from the hole.  I knew he would make a par, maybe even a birdie.

I gave the 17th green troll the best insult I could think of, then swung the club.  Sometimes, when the adrenaline is pumping, you overdo yourself.  I hit that shot all the way over the green, into the trees behind the green.  Lucky for me, the troll was in there somewhere.

Because the ball bounced out of the trees, backward on to the green.  Three feet from the hole.  A one in a million ricochet.  He parred, I canned the short birdie putt.  Instead of what would have been a one or two shot deficit, when we walked to the final tee, I had a one shot lead.

There was a moment of panic when it occurred to me that the Magic Ball could still go away on the last hole.  Fate can be that cruel.  But when I teed it up on number 18, the ball still had that unmistakable glow.  Sonny and I both parred 18, and I lifted the trophy a few minutes later.

EPILOGUE

That happened many years before I found the lost manuscript.  You might ask, why didn’t I use the knowledge to become a great golfer.  The answer is, commitments.  By the time I found the manuscript, I was already in a position of authority, I was the district attorney in Maynard County.  And while I didn’t have a lot of time for golf then, I did discover that you can also see the Magic Ball in a courtroom…


© Copyright 2017 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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