In & Out

By RJ Smiley

The volume on the bragging rights discussion had increased continually during the 3-hour drive up north to our annual men’s golf getaway. Over cocktails around the on-course condo grill, we hashed and re-hashed handicaps and the teams finally were established by 11 PM, an hour after our regular bedtime.

No alarms were needed as everyone rose at first light and quickly showered. We were the first group out on that glorious morning. The anticipation of the annual competition was growing as we re-filled our styrofoam coffee cups and grabbed another sweet roll before heading for the first tee. Pro-V1s or similar ammunition we had received as Christmas presents were launched from the first tee….most never to be seen again.

The holes passed quickly and the game got more intense. A reading on the bets after the 17th hole showed the teams all square with the staggering amount of $20 riding on the typical north woods style final hole, a long tight par 4.

With my favorite hybrid I produced a high, beautiful approach shot that landed on the front of the green and trickled toward the hole. My partner and I knew that a two putt would seal the match. However, when the “jerk” on the opposing team chipped close for a par, his partner knocked their ball away as he pulled the flag stick. Now it was all up to me. I had a 20 foot slider to win the match. All eyes watched the ball as it curled toward the hole and then made a sharp right turn to drop into the cup. My partner and I were in the midst of mid-air high five when the ball popped back out of the hole and sat on the lip.

Our opponents, “the jerks,” were bent over in laughter. As we approached the cup and looked in, we saw a large, startled toad that had blasted the ball out of the hole as he tried to escape. That is when the volume really rose. The argument was settled by the golf pro who concluded that the birdie counted as the ball had reached the bottom of the hole before an outside source, the toad, had caused the ball to pop back out of the hole.

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