Breaking Bad: A Lifelong Hack Breaks Par … Once
Fifty years of black numbers later, I have finally broken par. At the fork-tender age of 68, I managed to card a 1-under 71: four birdies, three bogeys and a ho-hum collection of pars at Sepulveda Encino, from the blue tees. Let the record show that a perennial hack finally got revenge for decades of bad breaks, worse swings and numbers that would crash your average abacus.
Did I gloat afterwards, tell way too many golf buddies, my brothers and sisters and third-cousins alike? You bet. I gave drying paint a run for the roses when it came to boring people silly with news of my uncanny prowess on the turf. And then, alas, tomorrow came, as it ever seems wont to do. Bummer.
Cold reality quickly set up camp by the next morning. “You will never do it again, so why bother booking another tee-time?” a voice in my head whispered. “Take up the violin, do some charity work, grow some jalapenos. You won’t ever break par again, not if you live another 50 years.”
Trust me, I’ve been there and done that when it comes to fleeting athletic glory. Twenty-some years ago I was jarring three-pointers like pickles one morning at the local gym. Afterwards, a buddy said that my hot hand had been witnessed by “Coach,” a local legend who was there prepping high-school basketball stars for college tryouts. “He wanted to know where you played organized ball, and I told him nowhere — that you were like a musician or something.”
I later learned that my admirer, Wayne Slappy, had worked with none other than Kobe Bryant for many years. My humble head swelled up like a Macy’s float — that is, until that pesky inner voice butted in right on cue: “You just peaked, old-timer! Bronze the Air Jordans, hang ‘em on the mantel and tell your tallish tale by the fire forevermore. Your bell hath tolled.”
Let it be said that I kept hooping till it hobbled me, got my hip replaced and started golfing more, resulting in the — ahem — aforementioned round-of-alifetime. Unfortunately, Butch Harmon was not present to witness the selfdubbed “Dean of Encino” shatter par like a quail egg that fabled day. But I am quite sure he would have been shocked if not altogether awed.
And no, I haven’t broken 80 since, but I’m back like a bad bitcoin, for better or for worse. What am I supposed to do, take up shuffleboard?