The Nineteenth Hole

D. E. Larsen, DVM


This year of 2022 is seeing continued violence on many fronts. We watch the evening news, and there are daily shootings in Portland. The city crumbles under incompetent leadership. The political divide in this country seems to prevent many people from crossing party lines at the voting booth to effect change, much-needed change. 

And now, another horrific school shooting. There is outrage, and there was cowardice on the part of those responsible for protecting us, the people. The anger is being directed against the gun. So the politicians will pass a bunch of laws. Most of those will have little or no impact on future events, but the politicians will be able to pat themselves on the back and declare that they did something. 

And they and we continue to ignore the elephant in the room. We ignore the fact that society is sick. Some individuals pass through our system in great need of help, and the system fails to recognize their plight. 

Is it the drug culture? Is it the fatherless home? Is it grandparents raising grandchildren when they failed in the upbringing of their children? Who knows the answer? And in this divided society, this woke society, those questions can’t even be addressed.

But that was not always the case, and the nineteenth hole was not just for drinking beer.


My ball was perched on the closely mowed grass of the fairway. That, in itself, was unusual. My drive had been almost perfect for the eighteenth hole on Pineway. It ended up just beyond the one-fifty bush and on the left side of the fairway. I pulled my eight-iron from my bag.

“You amaze me sometimes, Larsen,” Mike said as he watched me address my ball. “I couldn’t begin to reach that elevated green from here with an eight iron.”

“You know me, I haven’t got there yet,” I said. “This ball could end up anywhere. But this is the most consistent club in my bag, and if I hit it well, you and Gil will be buying the beer.”

I positioned the clubhead behind and ball and gripped the club, first tight, and then I loosened my grip. I could feel the perspiration on my hands.

I stepped away and wiped my hands on the towel hanging from my bag.

“Are you sweating from the sun or from nerves? Mike asked.

“It has been a hot afternoon,” I said. “I was just thinking of sitting on the veranda with that beer you will buy.”

I addressed the ball again. I looked down at the alignment of my stance and my club. My hands and arms were tanned to a deep brown, attesting to the hot summer this year.

I swung hard, the ball bounced on the green, and it climbed up the hill behind the green. It came to rest for a brief moment. I held my breath. It would be a difficult chip from there. Then the ball rolled back down the hill onto the green.

“That happens to you enough that it can’t be all luck,” Mike said. “But you will still need to make the putt to get that beer.”

When we all got up to the green, the match was all but decided before any putts were made. Jim’s ball was close to the pin, almost close enough for him to be given the putt, and I was close also. Gil was off the green with a difficult chip, and Mike had a long putt.

Jim was given his putt, and the match was settled. Gil and Mike paid up as we walked to the cars to put up our clubs. The few dollars that changed hands were a token expense. And the protocol dictated that winners buy the beer. When it was all over, money-wise, you were better off being on the losing side.

We picked up our beer as we passed through the bar and took our seats around the open table on the veranda. I sat back and enjoyed the slight breeze.

“Did you guys read where a guy shot a couple of guys at the campground up by Mountain House?” Gil said.

“Apparently, he was a crazy guy,” I said. “I think had converted derelict camper van has been around town for several weeks.”

“That is getting a little scary,” Jim said. “When you can’t go to a campground and feel safe unless you carry a gun.”

“I don’t even own a handgun,” Gil said. “But I have been thinking that it would be a good investment.”

“Do you have a handgun, Dave?” Jim asked.

“Yes, I have one,” I said. “I bought it when I first came to town, just to have in case I needed it to shoot a horse or something. I don’t like the things. After graduating from high school, I bought a twenty-two Ruger automatic pistol. My dad said you will just shoot yourself in the foot with it. And I almost did, so I sold that thing.”

“I would guess that you would be hesitant to shoot somebody if you were in a situation,” Gil said.

“I crossed those bridges in my mind many years ago, Gil,” I said. “I wouldn’t hesitate to use it if I had to. And the guy wouldn’t be telling any stories afterward.”

“It would make me nervous about having one in the house,” Jim said.

“Well, I figure it’s better than being pinned down and throwing rocks at the guy with a gun,” I said. “Besides, I don’t throw any straighter than I hit the golf ball.”

“What about you, Mike? Do you have a handgun?” Jim asked.

“Yes, I have one,” Mike said. “We carry it when we travel, especially if we are going to Portland. My thinking goes right along with Dave’s. And I don’t throw rocks very well either.”

“Once, when the kids were little, we went on a backpacking trip into Donaca Lake,” I said. “We bumped into a kid who hiked with us a way. He was a good-looking kid, but I kept him in front of me, and I felt much better with the pistol on my hip. You just never know; Ted Bundy was a good-looking kid, too.”

“That makes a lot of sense to me,” Jim said. “I guess I agree with everything you say. Around here, you would be waiting a couple of hours for the cavalry to arrive if you called for help.”

“Well, I have to run,” I said. “Now that we have everybody armed, maybe we can solve the abortion issue next week.”

“Ha! That’s a good one,” Jim said. “How do you feel about that?”

“I would never have one myself,” I said. “But it is sort of a fact of life these days. And all hell would break loose if that was changed.”

“That’s a point never discussed much,” Mike said. “Just what kind of response would there be if the anti-abortion side ever won out?”

“Next week, guys, I have to run,” I said as I took the last swallow from my glass.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

3 thoughts on “The Nineteenth Hole

  1. “Is it the drug culture? Is it the fatherless home? Is it grandparents raising grandchildren when they failed in the upbringing of their children? Who knows the answer?”
    Is it poverty, the vast divide between the super rich and the deprived of food and secure housing poor? Is it people forced to work just for the cost of childcare? Is it a society where the haves are so much more powerful than the have-nots? Is it lack of empathy for those who never had a good starting ground and are now supposed to function as if they had?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All of those things, but what is the fix? In this country, we send people to congress and they become millionaires (mostly through corruption) and people just keep electing them. That is why we have a senile old phart in the white house now. I don’t have the answers.


      1. I think you are right, it’s a multitude of reasons. And complex provlems can’t be helped by easy solutions. That’s snake oil selling.


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