The Coming of Gowf

Well over four hundred shots rang out on the Deer Track Golf Course located near Frankfort, Indiana, on Tuesday as three other men ventured out on the golf course with moi for my semi-annual golfing outing. I call it semi-annual because I usually only go twice a year, once in late spring and another time in early fall. Golf is too expensive and my playing too erratic to give much more time to it than that, but I do relish it when I can play. What can be more therapeutic for a pastor who has to be in the study quite a bit than strolling along green fairways (in my case it is across them as I go side-to-side looking for balls with a mind of their own), seeing woods and water beautifully placed (and spending a great deal of time in both of them), and enjoying the wildlife (we did not see any deer tracks, but the deer flies kept biting our necks, leading us to consider a new name for this particular course)?

Anyway, my blog title comes from a story by the English humorist P.G. Wodehouse, who tells a funny tale of a king who has a strange new religion known as “gowf” invade his empire and eventually conquer the people. For those who are hackers like me, golf by its very nature should give a lot of laughs, for what could be more ridiculous that trying to hit a tiny ball with a stick over hundreds of yards into a way-too-small cup? Below are a few of the gowf anecdotes that occured Tuesday. Notice I have concealed the identities of my partners in an attempt to not further embarass them.

  • At the first tee, one guy swung mightily and missed the ball completely – twice. In a case of sports mix-up, one of us tried to encourage him by calling out “Strike two!”
  • Another time, the same guy, with his ball lying on the fairway, missed twice again, but successively removed several inches of turf both times. After praising him for his consistency, he prepared for his third go at it. One of us used the sun behind us to make the shadow of his hand appear on the ground next to the ball, pointing at it so he could see it.
  • While searching for a lost ball in the rough, one of us came upon a dead sparrow. Lifting it up by the foot, he said, “Hey, I finally got a birdie.”
  • One man among us donned a towel on his head to cover his neck from the deer flies. Of course we then dubbed him Mohammed Al-Subpari. (Incidentally, the wicked man whose name we were playing off of really took it in the neck by our forces today.)
  • A minor accomplishment of mine was that I actually hit a few straight drives for once with a five-wood. Yet toward the end of the time, on my second shot on a par 5, my satisfaction of the feel of another good smack turned to dismay as I looked up to see the head of my club had snapped of and was hurtling down the fairway. As I picked up the club head and mourned, we could not locate my ball for a while as we thought it might have landed in the woods. However, my joy returned as we found the ball at the end of the fairway not far from the green. Since I then went on to make par for the first time ever on a par 5, I now have that five-wood head displayed in my office.

Yet none of these tops my favorite gowf anecdote that happened several years ago. While playing with one of these same men, he hit a shot into a creek that cut across the fairway. The bank of the creek went down about six feet, so my friend pulled his extendable ball retriever out his golf bag, which was resting on the pull cart behind him and to his left. As I stood watching him from the other side of the creek, I saw the pull cart begin rolling down the hill to the bank. Before I could cry out the alarm, the cart and bag with all his clubs plunged with a splash into the creek below. As he went down the bank to fetch his sinking bag, he heard the sympathetic question, “You have a ball retriever, but I guess you left your bag retriever at home?”

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