Ya Had to Be There

By Steven A. Yockim

An insignificant breeze barely moved the leaves on the trees as Jack stepped onto the number one tee box. What a beautiful morning thought Jack. This type of spring day was rare in Eastern Montana, and the early morning sun caused the dew to glisten upon the fairway. Standing over his ball he thought, this will be a momentous day. At that he swung the driver back and wildly hacked down on the ball. Jacks' tee shot took off like a bullet into the morning air, promptly hooked to the left, crossed the road and disappeared into the maintenance yard a couple of blocks away. Damn, that gust of wind took that ball right off its' course. Without hesitation, Jack placed a second ball on the tee. I'll just call that a warm up shot. Even the pros take a mulligan now and then. Adjusting for the wind, Jack took another mighty baseball swing towards the ball. Again, it shot out of there like a Yankee leaving Boston and immediately sliced to the right. Must of went fifty yards before rolling into the deep brush out of bounds. Damn the luck, mused Jack, the wind on the tee box is just intolerable. Walking down the fairway, Jack decided to just drop a ball where he thought appropriate. Fifty yards from the green ought to be about right. Two chips and four putts later, jack sank his first putt of the day. I'll just call that a par, noting to himself that the wet greens slowed down his ball.

Seventeen mulligans, twelve lost balls, and multiple bogeys later, Jack arrived at the eighteenth hole. Jack pulled his old Kmart driver from the bag, walked to the center of the tee box, positioned his ball carefully and stood over it all steadying himself for the final hole of the day. By now, tired from all the previous shots, his swing moving back half as far as usual, and the power in his stroke reduced, all came together for his best drive of the day. Uplifted by the flight of the ball, Jack turned around to share his excitement with his playing partner. Unfortunately, in the celebration no one watched where the ball landed. After half an hour of searching, Jack knew he had to drop a ball. Well, he was right certain that the ball would of gone three hundred yards on the fly, so he dropped it at the three fifty mark on the five hundred yard hole. Course it would have rolled that last fifty yards. He took a three iron out for the second shot and promptly hit a low flying zinger over the green. His partner was sure he saw it rolling out into the parking lot, but Jack was right dead certain he saw it drop on the back side of the green. While searching for his ball he spotted a Titlist in the short grass. "I thought you were playing a Wilson ball?" said his partner. "I was earlier." Jack stated, "Matter of fact I must of pulled this ball out of the bag instead." Lining up for his third shot, twenty feet from the hole, Jack grabbed a seven iron. "I seen a pro do this once instead of chipping, used that light seven iron to roll the ball through the short grass and onto the green." Eager for the chance to eagle a par five, Jack took a mighty cut at the ball. Sounding like a crack of thunder, the impact on the ball caused it to fly clean across the green, looking to head into the next county. As luck would have it, the ball hit a tree and careened back across the green hitting Jacks club. One more bounce backward and the ball rolled into the cup for an eagle three.

Proud beyond belief, Jack strutted towards the club house, ready to tell the first person he saw about his accomplishment.

Sitting at the table in the lounge, Bill glanced up in time to see Jack sauntering through the door. He noticed a peculiar change in Jack's demeanor. Jacks' head lifted higher, his chest puffed up and out, as he strode toward Bill with a purposeful bearing. Bill smiled to himself, noting that Jack looked every bit as cocky as the dominant cockerel in the henhouse. The flaming red hair on Jacks head completed the picture for Bill, who subdued a chuckle as he envisioned an upright plumage of feathers protruding from Jacks' behind. "Hey Jack," said Bill, "how did the round go today?"

Pulling up a chair, Jack could barely contain his response. "Well, gotta say, pretty well, knocked the hell out of the last par five. Ya had to be there Bill."

"Oh," replied Bill, regretting the opening he gave Jack to elaborate on his round.

"Ya," Jack continued, "stepped onto the tee box on number eighteen, now mind you it was the pro box, not the shorter men's tee, and pulled out my Big Bertha club. Oh what a sweet stick that proved to be. Standing over the ball, I visualized the perfect swing, been working on it all day, brought the club back and released a faultless drive, drove the ball right down the center of the fairway. Such a beautiful shot, brought tears to my eyes as I followed the trajectory up and up and up some more, three twenty-five, maybe three fifty in the air. Course then it rolled some due to the spin I put on that ball, took me dang near 10 minutes to get to my second shot."

"Sounds amazing, how's your wife?" Bill spoke, trying desperately to change to another subject.

Jack interrupted, "Ya had to be there Bill, to see my approach shot. Used the three iron, rusty old club, but it got me to the edge of the green. Ball was laying two strokes on that par five, barely thirty feet from the hole. Oh, ya had to see that shot! What a beauty."

Bill nodded his head, looking around the room for someone to holler at to get him out of this conversation.

"When I got to the ball, sized up the shot, analyzed the pitch of the green and took out my sand wedge. Course I could of used the pitching wedge, but looked like the roll of the surface wouldn't be amenable to the spin of that club. I saddled up to the ball, positioned it perfectly in the back of my stance, took a breath and bam! Hit the prettiest chip shot ya ever seen. Bill, ya had to be there, oh that was a sweet shot. Got just the right amount of air, landed about fifteen feet short of the hole, which was what I planned, and began to roll towards the hole, Now that ball dipped right, then left before settling into the perfect arc and rolling right directly into the cup. Ya had to be there Bill."

Bill sat quietly, enduring the monologue, accepting his torment for yet another hour.

"Yep" continued Jack, "It was the best round of my life. Might even sign up for the Semi Pro tourney next week. Ya had to be there Bill."

© 2018 Steven A. Yockim