The day after the day after Christmas – It was a dark and stormy day. I had played golf with Fred the day before; we both wore shorts and I soon shed the sweater vest I had chosen more for style than comfort. It was 79, the hottest Dec. 26 on record for the area.
The guy in the pro shop at The Greens at North Hills didn’t have us down for the 12:30 tee time I had made a few days before but that wasn’t a problem as the rain had only stopped a few hours before and the course was pretty soaked. It was so soggy in fact that the Judge called me on my way to the course to say to go on without him. I didn’t blame him. If Fred hadn’t had his heart so set on playing, I would have bailed as well.
We paid the green fee and split the cart, which cost us $21 a piece, a true bargain even for this time of year. A twosome was playing in front of us and we waited a bit for them to get out of the way on the opening straightaway par five. They disappeared from the mirror that was attached to the clubhouse roof, attached there so those waiting to tee off could see down in the fairway valley and not kill anybody. Fred and I both hit pretty weak shots out to the right; six shots later I had my first but not last double of the day, but was already two up on Fred. “How did you make a nine?” I asked him. “I made a great putt,” came the best response he could give.
As we drove to the next tee I was thinking the Judge seemed pretty smart.
I made the turn in 43 strokes, four better than Fred. Then played the tenth perfectly for an easy par and we came to the par three 11th, which, now, sans Bertha, isn’t nearly as intimidating. The pin was back and I hit a six iron because it was into the wind, but I caught it just right and thought I heard it hitting the cart path beyond the green. Fred was off the back too, but a lot closer than me. I grabbed my sand wedge and walked towards my ball, which was sitting up pretty good, but on the side of a hill. It was a pretty difficult shot, but suddenly I wasn’t thinking about that as my feet slipped on the muddy ground and I had no chance for recovery.
I landed hard, but all the weight was on my left leg and left hand, which saved my shorts from the mud below, so I’d at least look good in the ambulance.
I stayed in the down position for quite a few seconds, trying to decide if I was injured, my L-4 rupture still less than a year old. But the shock of falling was wearing off and the absence of any sharp unbearable pain told me to get to my feet.
Fred had witnessed the entire thing, which took no time at all really.
“Are you OK bud?” he asked. Then when he saw I was getting up I heard, “Down goes Edwards, Down goes Edwards,” in a pretty decent Howard Cosell imitation. Then, in his own voice, “Too much bourbon bud?”
“Not enough,” I said, and looked at my ball and the pin on the green. I still had to hit the shot; Fred wasn’t giving me a par just for almost breaking my back.
So I flopped the wedge and the ball almost went in, stopping four feet below the hole; and yes, I even made the putt.
Happy New Year.
Jay Edwards is editor-in-chief of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.