Fast Friends on the Links: Be Wary of the Guy Quoting Mayakovsky
BEING CHILDREN OF THE NEW WORLD disallows us from giving our golf clubs such lofty names as Royal & Ancient Golf Club of Saint Andrews, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers or the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith, as golf clubs in Scotland are historically wont to do. Yet it is the golfing clubs of America that comprise a large part of the 26 million golfers in this country.
Personally, I’ve been a member of three clubs over the years: the Penmar-by-the-Sea Type-Os, where I currently pay dues; the Hard Drivers of Honolulu — hardly a distinguished name, yet appropriate for its computer-oriented members — and the Royal and Recent Golf Club of Hilton Head. This latter motley crew was comprised chiefly of writers and magazine people, but also included some other sporting men and women with whom I enjoyed association. We totaled 20 members.
We were not all great golfers — far from it. Our handicaps ranged from 1.7 to 40, but when we got together, handicaps didn’t matter in the least. Our primary function as a club was to gather, enjoy a day on the links and then gather again in the early evening for a feast that was often dubbed “Dueling Lasagna” or some such thing, whereby six or seven brave souls volunteered to cook the same dish using their own tried-and-true recipes.
After we consumed far too much lasagna — plus the salads, wines (and vodka, scotch, beer), desserts and breads — bragging, laughing and loud pronouncements would invariably follow; then louder pronouncements, often on the day’s games — who beat the skunk out of whom, who is going to get revenge on whom next time out, etc. — but it rarely stopped there.
I recall one three-sheets-to-the-wind golfer who became so eloquent one evening that he stood on a chair at the head of our long table and began excitedly slurring verses from the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, which somehow explained why he couldn’t sink a putt that afternoon on the golf course. Sadly, we all understood exactly what he meant.
At the end of the evening, those who could still manage to stand and walk were herded into a judging group to vote on who had produced the “Best Lasagna,” whose dish was the “Most Original,” who was “Most Likely Not to be Invited to Cook Again,” and so forth. It was all great fun. Then we’d hand out the day’s prizes: “Closest to the Pin,” “Most Lost Balls,” “Most Ineffective Partner” (there were always quite a few nominations in this category), “Most Creative Use of the Golf Course,” and “Biggest Sandbagger.”
Our by-now-weaving tournament chairman — that was usually me — would then publicly avow to never allow such a mockery of the great and holy sport to occur again, after which we’d plan our next outing, hoping the exact same thing would happen.
Public or private, corporate golf, client golf or a weekend club just going to visit Dr. Green, it all amounts to the same thing: People getting together in a spirit of relaxation and camaraderie to make fast and lasting friends on the links — and eat too much lasagna afterward. That’s the joy of it all.
My one piece of advice: Just don’t pick the guy quoting Mayakovsky poems as your playing partner … he can’t putt.