D. E. Larsen, DVM
Walking down the fifth fairway at Pineway, I was relieved that I could see ball.
“At least I am not in the ditch,” I said to Jim as we parted toward our respective balls.
Dr. French had always told me that the if you are paying attention to your practice, you will never have the time to be a good golfer. I could see his point, I took Thursday afternoon off to play with the Pineway Men’s Club and most of the time with a group or two once on the weekend. But I really felt that athletes are born, not made. Of course, with work and coaching, we could improve and reach our potential, but some guys are just born with a ball in their hands. We all knew them, they were stars in little league, and they excelled on the basket ball court. They are the ones who didn’t go out for football until they were seniors, and they made all league. The coach always tries to take the credit, but it is just the way it is.
And my slice was a good illustration. I could beat just about anyone on any one hole. But I could never hold my concentration for the next hole.
I got to my ball, it was in the short rough, about a foot from the ditch that ran down the right side of the fairway. It was a position I knew well. I could reach the green from this position on this short 5 par hole. This position actually set me up well with my ball flight. There was a slight dogleg to the the left, with my slice, I liked to call it a fade, I could start my ball left of the hole and it would run up the front apron to the green. I just needed to fade the ball, not slice it.
As I addressed the ball, I caught sight of Jack Wright’s cart starting down the eighth fairway. Rambo, his little poodle mix, always rode on the back of the seat in Jack’s cart. Rambo had already spotted me. I could hear him throwing a fit from two fairways over.
Jack loved it, and here he came in his cart with Rambo barking up a storm over his shoulder. Just what I needed to hold my concentration on this shot.
“Good morning, Doc,” Jack said over Rambo constant barking, louder now that they were parked just across the ditch. “How is your game this morning?”
“It has been pretty good so far,” I said. “With a little luck, I will reach this green in two.”
“Rambo spotted you and wanted to say hi,” Jack said with laugh. “I think you are the only person he knows on this entire course.”
“Yes, I notice that almost every Thursday,” I said. “I don’t know what the problem is, I have never done anything to him other than his shots and stuff.”
Jack chuckled again, “He just wants you to know what he thinks of you.”
“Well, I guess it is good to be loved by my patients,” I said.
“I’ll let you get back to your game, good luck, and fly that ball right at the stick for a change,” Jack said as he turned the cart and headed back to his fairway. Rambo on the back of the cart, facing me and barking as loud as he could.
I addressed the ball again, trying to think what it was that I had done to Rambo to make dislike me so much. Then trying to brush that thought away, I took a deep breath and started my back swing.
I swung with all my strength, and caught the ball perfectly. The ball seemed to hang on the club face briefly, then sprang into a high flight. This was my Ping 5 wood, my favorite club. Probably because I could hit the ball straighter with it than any of my other woods.
The ball started out on a line about 10 yards left of the green and then started to fade to the right. Then the fade became a slice and it was struck hard enough that distance was going to be more than usual for this club. I held my breath and leaned to the left, as if to guide the ball a little.
The green ran on a diagonal left to right and the hole was cut in the far back corner. I had hoped to land in the fairway and run the ball up on the green but this ball was going much more to the right than I had hoped. Then it came down, and stuck on back edge of the green, maybe 10 feet from the hole.
I perfect shot and it surprised everyone, including myself. “Maybe I should talk with Rambo more often,” I said to myself as I picked up my bag and started toward the green.
Bruce West was coming down the sixth fairway. He pointed at the ball near the pin and asked, “Whose ball is that?”
Jim pointed at me, “Larsen’s, good shot, don’t you think?”
“If he makes the putt,” Bruce replied.
I could still hear Rambo barking as I walked up on the green. He was out of the cart and standing under the trees over by the eighth green, only thirty yards away. He pounded his front feet with each bark in a little bounce, just to add emphasis to his distaste.
Jack had loaded him up and headed to the ninth tee box just as I addressed my putt. I was relieved that the barking was fading off in the distance.
One small breath, and I stroked the putt, straight putt, right to the bottom of the hole. “Take that Bruce,” I said as I stepped quickly to hole to retrieve the ball.
Eagles were rare birds for me on the golf course.