Outwardly golfers can appear completely normal, but the very fact that they golf testifies to their underlying bizarreness. As evidence I submit this photo of Ron Morey (along with his wife, Rita) looking pleasantly normal enough during a bike ride at Black Butte Ranch last Tuesday.
Indeed, Ron is a wonderful guy. Laurel and I enjoyed the four days we just spent with Ron and Rita at our cabin in Camp Sherman. But this doesn’t negate the fact that Ron is an avid golfer, which means, ipso facto, that his mind works in mysterious ways, fully fathomable only to another member of his cult.
For example, during a phone conversation while he was still in Seattle he said that I should go golfing with him at one of the Black Butte Ranch courses. Ron knew that I hadn’t played golf for over ten years, leaving aside the whiffle balls that he and I hit at my home here in Salem a while back.
Yet somehow he thinks that it’s a fine idea for me to jump right onto a pretty tough golf course. I need to say that “tough,” to me, is defined much more in psychological than physical terms. That is, a tough course is any course where a considerable number of people would see me flailing away at the ball.
I knew that (1) Black Butte Ranch is a popular summer destination spot, (2) Many homes at the resort are situated next to the golf courses and, even worse, have large picture windows, and (3) Bike trails run adjacent to, or even through, the courses, thereby adding to the potential population that would be viewing my humiliation.
Nonetheless, Ron told me, “You just need to go out and hit some balls at the driving range. Then you’ll be fine when we play.” After more than ten years of not playing golf? It’s insane to think that I’d be “fine” after hitting a few buckets of balls.
This psychiatric conclusion was confirmed after I did indeed hit a bucket of balls at the South Salem driving range. I couldn’t believe that Ron had convinced me to go there, but I myself am open to golfing fantasies, having played this crazy game quite a bit in my high school days and episodically thereafter.
So with a decided sense of unreality I found myself at the driving range last week, teeing up a ball with 5-iron in hand. I took a few ungainly practice swings. I had no expectation that I could hit the ball with any semblance of golfing prowess. I stepped up to the tee, made my first swing, and “whack!”…the ball sails straight and far a mile down the range.
Hmmmm. “Beginner’s luck,” I said to myself. I teed up another ball. Whack! Again, straight and far another mile.
“Man, I’m a natural! I haven’t hit a golf ball for a decade and look at me! This game is easy! What’s the big deal with golf?! Bring it on!” With those delusional thoughts, my descent into driving range hell began.
My initial what-the-heck looseness changed into an I-can-do-even-better tightness. The more I tried to replicate those first few natural swings, the more my balls either dribbled down the grass or soared like slicing/hooking unmajestic eagles.
Needless to say, I ended up telling Ron to put himself down as a Big Meadow course single, not a twosome. I’m up with Buddhism and am fine with the ego-loss thing, but I’d rather have it happen gradually rather than all at once during a brief 18 holes.
Well, it wouldn’t have been all that brief, actually. That’s another crazy thing about golf. Ron had a 9:00 am tee time. He finished about 3:00. It took him six hours to hit a stupid ball just 88 times. That’s standing still and swinging your arms every four minutes, not exactly pushing your body to the limit.
But it was more than I was willing to do, so I was happy to hear Ron recount his golfing exploits. Most notably, a birdie on a 432 yard par 4 that resulted from a 195 yard 3-wood shot that landed two feet from the hole. (I heard about the shot so many times, I’ve committed the details to memory).
And this morning I enjoyed getting back at Ron by razzing him for bundling up with a blanket and vest on August 18, for god’s sake, when it was already a balmy 64 degrees in Camp Sherman and heading for the 80’s. Ron obliged with his best dottering old man in the nursing home imitation.
Ron, amazingly generous guy that he is, gave me a golf ball emblazoned with the particulars of his consulting business, Profound Results. Now that I’ve advertised him on my blog, he probably will try to write off his entire trip to Oregon.
Hopefully the IRS doesn’t read weblogs. But after a previous visit to Black Butte Ranch, I learned that police do read weblogs.