Thursday, May 30
I pulled into the parking lot of the Schaumburg Golf Club, opened the rear hatch, put my golf shoes on, and Paul pulled up behind me in a golf cart and said, “Throw your stuff on and let’s go.”
“You already checked in?”
“Yeah. I put it all on my credit card. Pay me sixty bucks later.”
I threw my bag on the cart, strapped it in, hopped on, and Paul made a beeline to the starter. I needed to pee but figured I could hold it nine holes. The starter paired us up with two young guys, one who looked like John Hamm from “Mad Men.” Paul drove toward the first tee and the cart died. He flagged down the starter.
“I’m going to the bathroom,” I told Paul.
“Go, and make it fast,” he said.
I ran to the clubhouse and back to the cart. Paul and the two young guys were waiting.
“Sorry,” I said.
We drove to the first tee. The two young guys whacked their balls down the fairway. Paul hit a bad shot. I unstrapped my bag, having only walked nine holes a few times, then realized I should leave my bag on the cart, put it back, and pulled out my driver.
“Just so you know,” I shouted over my shoulder at the young guys, “I’m new. You’re probably going to hate playing with me. It’s okay if you want to ditch us.”
I teed up my ball, took a few practice swings, heard a big crash, and Paul laughing. I nailed the ball about one-hundred-and-fifty yards down the fairway.
“Nice shot,” the guy who looked like Hamm said.
“Thanks,” I said, hopping in the cart.
“Just so you know, you can’t just throw your bag on the cart,” Paul laughed. “You need to strap it in. Your clubs just went flying.”
Paul’s ball was the furthest from the hole. He made another bad shot. I grabbed my hybrid, lined up my feet, positioned myself, and took a few practice swings.
“You got quite a system there,” Paul said.
I nailed the ball and sent it flying straight down the fairway another hundred feet. I hopped in the cart.
“You probably want to take fewer practice swings,” Paul said. “Move things along faster.”
“Okay,” I said.
The first hole was a par five. I sunk my ball in seven. On the third hole, Paul got his swing down and started crushing it. The two young guys and I started chatting.
“I just graduated from college,” the one who didn’t look like Hamm said. “My friend graduated last year. We played on our high school golf team.”
“What’s your degree in?”
“Marketing. I start a sales job tomorrow. Not what I went to school for. What do you do?”
“I’m a writer,” I said. “I had a book published a couple of years ago. I’m working on another.”
“Well, you’d never know you just started playing golf,” he said. “You’re playing really well.”
“Really. You’re doing good.”
“I’m a writer, too,” Hamm said. “I cover high school sports for "The Daily Herald" part time. I have a sales job, too.”
“A stringer,” I said.
“Yeah. Do you have any advice for me to get ahead, make money in the writing business?”
“Ha. Wish I did. I started out as a journalist. The business is all different now. Create a name for yourself, an identity, write well. That’s all I got.”
We finished the eighth hole and I climbed into the cart and whacked my head hard on the roof.
“Duck,” Paul laughed.
“I’m not used to wearing a hat. Can’t see above the visor.”
“We’re letting these guys play through on the ninth,” Paul said. “They just told me, ‘Uh, we have an appointment so we have to hurry the last nine.’”
“I’m surprised they stuck with us this long. They waited for me a lot.”
“Yeah, they did,” Paul laughed.
The two guys teed off and waved good-bye.
Paul and I smacked our balls down the fairway, hopped in the cart, and stopped near my ball. I grabbed my three wood, took a few steps away from the ball, lined up my feet, and started to take a practice swing. Paul began laughing.
“If you weren’t you in that short little skirt, those guys would have wanted to fucking kill you,” he said. “You have no idea. You have no fucking clue. Before you hit every ball, you line up your feet, get your stance just right, practice your swing a few times. Any other person out here, anyone, and they’d have been screaming, ‘Hit the fucking ball! Hit it! Hit it now you fucker! What the fuck is your problem?’ But, no, they’re just standing there smiling and being nice.”
I started laughing so hard I crossed my legs to stop from peeing myself.
“I’m serious,” Paul laughed. “You’ve been getting away with murder.”
“Now you're making me take even longer,” I laughed.
“Seriously, you have to start walking up to the ball and just hitting it. Maybe take one practice swing and hit it. Some courses have clocks at each tee. They let you know on the score card how much time you’re allowed on each hole.”
We finished nine and Paul parked the cart by the snack shack. “You want a hotdog?”
“No,” I said, stuffing a handful of raw almonds into my mouth. “But I’ll hit the bathroom.”
Four men in their seventies whizzed by in two carts and shot me big grins.
“I think they like me,” I told Paul.
“They were playing behind us,” he said. “They should be wanting to fucking kill you.”
The last nine holes, my arms were tired, my shots weren’t good, I hit without lining up and taking practice swings, and picked up my ball a lot to be quicker.
“See,” Paul said. “You can hit well without taking all that time.”
“Uh, now the ball’s not going where I want it to.”
We were on the fairway a good distance from the green. I smacked my ball onto the green and Paul smashed his into the trees. We hopped into the cart to look for it.
“Well hell,” Paul drawled in his best hillbilly accent. “I shore don’t know what happened to that there ball.”
“Hell, baby, it’s just ‘cause you’s so strong,” I drawled.
It took Paul two shots to get out from under the trees and he wound up in the rough on the edge of the fairway.
“C’mon Baby!” I rebel yelled from the green. “C’mon up here with me Baby. Hit one for Mama. Hit a nice one up here for Mama!”
Paul’s shoulders were shaking with laughter. He shook his head and whacked his ball onto the green. Two men in a cart behind Paul were gawking at me like WTF?
When Blake got home, I told him about my golfing.
“See,” he laughed. “I kept telling you but you wouldn’t believe me. You do this.” He lined up his feet and bent over. “Then it looks like you’re going to take a couple of practice swings but you don’t. You’d do a few wrist breaks.” He flicked his wrists a few times.
I doubled over laughing. “Oh my God.”