Sunday, August 01, 2004

Seven Pines

Waterbury called me today to see if I'd like to play with Ray in a twosome at Seven Pines, and I was pretty amenable to that. Seven Pines is based on courses designed by Robert Trent Jones II, and it's private, so it's about the best grass you can get onto locally. I'd never played it before. It's a links-style course, which I really enjoy (as opposed to those municipal sod farms I usually play).

Ray's one of those guys who has those graphite-shafted, perimeter-weighted, custom irons, and those grapefruit-sized titanium Big Bertha metal woods, and the high-tech putters you can only order out of like Playboy. Naturally he has one of those gi-normous white leather Ping bags that looks like it should be in low-earth orbit, and all the little plastic iron covers and the obnoxious two-tone Ping balls. My set looked pretty poor compared to his, with my simple old purple canvas bag, old Wilson Staffs (they were my dad's), and actual wooden woods. When he saw that I just had an old tube sock over my driver, he went silent for a little while, like he was worried the guys at Seven Pines wouldn't let me on the course.

I wasn't expecting him to want to bet on the round, so it was lucky I still had a little roll that Aunt Brezna had slipped into my pocket while I was visiting her. I was a little worried on the first tee, since I can't afford to lose much, and by the looks of it my annual budget was probably what he spent on lessons every week.

Anyhow, on the first tee he won the toss and set up to go (we agreed to a starting wager of five bucks). It took him maybe thirty seconds of ass wiggling, foot shuffling, and mini-knee bends to even get the driver head down to ground level. Then he stood perfectly still for what seemed like five and a half minutes. Just when I was wondering if I should go over and check his pulse, he launched into the grossest swing I have ever seen in my life. His head bobbed, his shoulders were all over the place, he didn't turn his hips, his left foot came off the ground three times...the overall effect was that of a desperate person trying to chop down a giant sequoia with one axe swing. Fortunately, the club head being the size of a shoebox, he made contact with the ball and several decades of golf club science sent it more or less straight down the fairway, a good two hundred and fifty yards.

I followed up with a slight fade on a decent two iron, and we were off. I was a little nervous heading into the green (Hole 1 at Seven Pines is a long uphill par 4), thinking that I stood to lose some big money. When he was setting up for his second shot I slyly counted the roll in my pocket and figured out what I could afford to bet each hole.

His second swing was as ugly as the first, and despite a fifty-pound divot the ball landed just a few feet off the green, about pin-high. I matched up with another long iron, about five feet from his. I didn't like how things were turning out at all.

No amount of perimeter weighting and "Sensicore" shaft technology can make up for a lack of finesse around the green, however, and Ray lacked finesse in spades. I think I watched him chip over the green three times before one beleaguered ball bounced off a bench and came to rest ten feet from the pin. My lead growing, I rolled a pitched 8-iron to within three feet and marked my ball. Seven putts later, Ray was down, for an even octuple-bogey, and I was down in par. He huffed something about "gettin' the kinks out" as we headed to the next hole and he handed me a five.

I'll spare you the abominations Ray showered over the course for the rest of the day, and observe only that the angrier he gets, the more he likes to bet. I cleared six hundred bucks off him, and a great dinner at the clubhouse besides (bacon-wrapped filets mignon with blue cheese sauce, turned potatoes, baby carrots, that sort of stuff).

Surprisingly, he wanted to play again later in the week, so I'm down. I suppose that'll give him time to take some short-game lessons.