Why Golf and Beer Don't Mix

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Tales From Dirt Mountain, Part 9.

Submitted: May 25, 2015

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Submitted: May 25, 2015

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Earl and I missed out on a lot of things, when we spent our teen years playing golf at Dirt Mountain.  I never went to a school dance.  Earl only went if Mary Ann Filer made him go.  We never went to the beach at spring break.  The golf season was just getting warmed up by then. 

We also never got in fights, didn’t break into the school, didn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs.  Spending time on a golf course is not the worst thing teenage boys can do.  Did I say we didn’t drink?  That was mostly true.  Every now and then, Earl would sneak a beer left over from one of George and Lester’s Friday sessions.  We’d split it behind the mechanical shed.  You won’t get much of a buzz from half a beer, even when you’re barely 130 pounds. 

But there was that one time at the Future Masters.

If you head west from Maynard County on US 84, eventually you’ll cross the Alabama state line.  Another twenty miles, you’re in Dothan.  Known as the Peanut Capital of the World, Dothan is also home to a beautiful golf course, Dothan Country Club.  Once a year, DCC hosts a junior golf extravaganza, the Press Thornton Future Masters Golf Tournament. 

It was the top of the food chain for junior golf in the Southeast in the 1970s.  An impressive list of people who would later be professional stars played in the Future Masters, guys like Hubert Green, Jerry Pate, Larry Mize.  From the day I met Earl Saunders, he had been talking qualifying for the Future Masters.  We tried.  That first year, we washed out at the first stage qualifying tournament.  The next three years, one or both of us made it through the first stage, but not the second.

The following summer was my eighteenth, and the last time I’d be eligible to play in junior tournaments.  It was now or never for me.  Earl would have one more year but he’d be on his own.  We cruised through the first stage, as we expected.  The second stage was tough, only the top 10 finishers would go to Dothan.  Earl finished second, I ended up in a playoff for the tenth spot. 

Earl said I was shaking so hard on the tee he was afraid I would knock the ball over before I started my swing.  I managed to hit a low hook that went about 220 yards and ended up in the first cut of the rough on the left.  My opponent must have been more rattled than I was.  He promptly hit his tee shot out of bounds.  When I got to the green and sank the putt, Earl and I were on our way to the Future Masters.

That day may have been the high point of my entire golf career.  The only other thing that compared was making the Maynard County High golf team.  Soon, college and the adult world beckoned.  I still play golf several times a month, but never again would I dedicate myself to the game of golf, and the level of practice required to maintain a low handicap.

On that day, though, the heavens had opened, and the sun was shining.  Nothing could cast a shadow on that glorious day.  But there was a twinge of discomfort.  I should have interpreted it as an omen, when I read the list of qualifiers.  Sam Barber, didn’t know him.  Richard Lawson, played with him in first stage, funny guy, hits the ball a long way.  Blaise Robbins, that’s when the twinge happened.

Earl and I both had plenty of experience with Blaise.  He was the best golfer our age in Maynard County.  On any weekend at Pin Oaks Country Club you might find him flirting with par when he’s on the course, then flirting with the cheerleaders at the pool shortly after.  He had the blond hair, jaw line, and swagger of a young Jack Nicklaus.  He was a golden child, he knew it, and he made sure everyone around him knew it.

He was not just a spoiled and skilled golfer.  Blaise had one more talent.  He could look at any unpopular, gawky kid like me or Earl, and zero in on a weakness to poke fun at.  I had a big nose, Earl talked too much, that guy’s clothes were old.  I never saw him physically bully anyone, but he could deliver the verbal equivalent of a body shot from the other end of the driving range, with the accuracy and repetition of a Gatling gun.

I had only played one round of golf with him.  I shot 91 and was glad I missed the cut, I’d had enough Blaise for one weekend.  I knew Earl wasn’t fond of him either.  I noticed he always got quiet when Blaise was around.  Usually when Earl got quiet that meant he had a fever.

So you could imagine our surprise, when we ran into Blaise on the practice green the first day at the Future Masters, and he was nice to us.

Blaise wasn’t just nice, he fawned over us.  He shook our hands, introduced us to other golfers, took us to the registration booth and the locker room.  He even wrote his hotel phone number on a matchbook, and told us to call if there was anything he could do.

We were confused by the change of behavior.  Earl speculated that it had something to do with crossing the state line.  At home it was every man for himself.  Perhaps, once we crossed into the foreign country of Alabama, us Maynard County types would naturally stick together.

Earl and I went on our way and didn’t think much about Blaise for the next two days.  The Future Masters is a three day tournament.  I played poorly and after two days I was out of contention.  Earl, on the other hand, was red hot and in second place.  One shot behind Blaise, five shots ahead of Richie Lawson.  The last day was going to be a two man race.  

When our pal Blaise walked up to us in the locker room after the round and asked us what we were doing that evening, this is what we should have said.  “We’re going to lock ourselves in our hotel room and hide under the covers until dawn.” 

But we weren’t that smart.  Before we knew it, he had convinced us to come to the party at the clubhouse that night. 

There would be plenty of food, and Blaise knew some local high school girls that were going to be there.  Plus he had a stash of liquor in his car.  We could make some discreet trips to the parking lot, where he would share with his Maynard County pals.

Blaise met us at the clubhouse with a girl on each arm.  Sally Borders on the left, Sunny Borders on the right.  I have no idea if he knew about Mary Ann and Mary Lou Filer, but Earl and I already had a weakness for twins.  Earl was in an on and off relationship with Mary Ann. Right now it was off.  Earl had fixed me up on some double dates with Mary Lou, but I was hopeless, that wasn’t going anywhere.

Blaise didn’t give me any time to think about that.  As soon as he introduced us to the twins, he handed me his car keys and said, “This party isn’t going anywhere.  You guys take off to the Barn.  Sally knows where it is. I have to call my parents at 8, I’ll catch up with you after that.”

In the span of two days, Blaise Robbins had gone from a major pain in the ass, to a well connected buddy, to a god.  There is no way Serge Wlodarski could ever drive a lime green 1969 Camaro, the kind with the cool double white stripes across the hood.

There’s no way Sally Borders, a tall, slender young lady with a tan and a heart melting smile, would ever have her arm around Serge’s arm.  Unless there had been some kind of divine intervention.

George C. Wallace Community College is not a fancy place.  It is the kind of place where kids needing a job go to become a carpenter, an accountant, or an LPN.  There wasn’t the kind of money there that can support the robust party scenes at major universities.  But kids will be kids.  A barn shaped garage in the back of a rental house, across the street from campus, was a well-known secret party spot.

I parked the Camaro behind the house.  The yard was already filled with cars.  When I got out, I could hear the familiar sound of the Dave Clark Five.  Serge and Sally, Earl and Sunny, exited the Camaro and entered the Barn.  There was a table with three kegs, and a stack of plastic cups.  Pretty soon, Earl and I were feeling Glad All Over.

The Dave Clark Five is one of the most underrated bands from the 1960s rock scene.  That is largely due to the fact that, unlike almost any of his peers, Dave Clark insisted on maintaining ownership of the songs.  To this day, you will find almost none of their music on CDs.  They’ve never done a reunion tour, or released “unplugged” versions of their hits. 

But when rock and roll was young they were one of the hottest bands on the planet.  When 18 year old Serge was under the sway of long legged Sally Borders, a cup that never ran out of beer, and the drumming of Dave Clark, that made for a magical night.  All the way up to the point where he passed out.

I don’t remember how we got back to the hotel room.  Earl said Sunny drove, she hadn’t drank much.  Blaise did a good job, picking tall, athletic girls that wouldn’t have any trouble dragging two skinny, drunk golfers to their room. 

The next morning I had a splitting headache, and spent a half hour on my knees in front of the toilet.  There was no way I was playing golf that day. 

Earl told the officials I had the flu.  That was the less than exemplary ending to my junior golf career.  Puking my guts out in the bathroom at the Heart of Dixie Motel.  Earl wasn’t any better off than me, but he was in second place.  He had no choice but to play.  

When I saw how slow Earl was moving, it all came together in my head.  Blaise hadn’t become our buddy because he had a religious experience, or because we were on foreign soil and were his anchor to home.  Blaise knew Earl had been playing well lately, he was potential competition. 

When that actually turned out to be the case, he issued the coup de gras, making sure Earl had a rousing hangover on the last day of the tournament.  I was superfluous, I was only involved because Earl wouldn’t go anywhere without me.

The handshakes, the keys to the Camaro, the attention of Sally and Sunny Borders, that was all part of Blaise Robbins’ master plan.  While I lay there in that motel room, with my head throbbing, my stomach heaving, and the room spinning, this was the worst thing of all:  Earl and I had been outsmarted by the biggest asshole in Maynard County.

When Earl got back to the motel room, after the final round of the Future Masters, he said, “Well, there was a seven in my score today, and a nine.  And I didn’t shoot a 79.”

Big Earl Saunders, after a 73 on day one, and a 72 the next day, shot a 97 on the last day and dropped from second place to next to last.  He couldn’t finish last, that spot belonged to his pal Serge.

Blaise hoisted the trophy that day, and I learned that golf and beer do not mix. 

I’ll drink a few when I sit around Friday afternoons with Earl on the patio behind the pro shop at Dirt Mountain.  Or when we’re in a bar listening to Mackenzie Thomas belt out the blues. 

When I’m playing golf, no way.  There isn’t a beer girl at Dirt Mountain.  But when I’m at Pin Oaks Country Club, and the beer girl drives up to our group, she’s learned not to offer me any alcohol.  A Coke, a sandwich, maybe.  No beer.

A few weeks later, Blaise learned a valuable lesson about alcohol himself.  He and a lady friend were parked at the overlook at Landon’s Point, a popular teen hangout.  He had been picking on Donny Brooks for years.  Donny had a terrible complexion, and stuttered when he got nervous.  He had just worked up the nerve to ask Irene Blanchard up to the Point. Irene was on the chubby side. 

While Blaise was getting drunk, he began making his usual comments at the expense of Donny and Irene.  That turned out to be the last straw.  Donny went to his car, got something out of the glove compartment, walked up behind the other boy.  As Blaise stood and turned, Donny pointed a BB pistol at his face and pulled the trigger.

I’ve never heard of any life threatening injury caused by a tiny metal pellet.  But that evening, a BB gun turned Blaise Robbins into the best one eyed golfer in Maynard County.


© Copyright 2017 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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