I am not an accomplished golfer by any means, and neither are my college buddies. I picked up the game about 10 years ago, when my aging knees and ankles could no longer withstand the stress of running up and down a basketball court every weekend with youngsters ½ my age. Two of my college buddies (let’s call them Harold and Damon) quickly followed suit. Harold and Damon were video game junkies. They had been playing computer golf for a few years and instantly became jealous when I told them I had purchased a set of clubs and had actually been out to the golf course a few times with my co-workers. Harold is the adventurous type, always looking to try new things. Damon is very competitive and wants to win at everything.
After a few weekends at the driving range and some practice on the putting green, we began to hit the links on a regular basis. Golf had become our new weekend ritual. Being self-taught golfers with no formal training, our mechanics were poor and we typically hit a lot more bad shots than good ones. The fact that we all pretty much sucked made for good competition, as we often hacked our way out of the woods, underbrush and other impossible situations in an effort to hold bragging rights until the next round. The only thing missing from our newly found male bonding experience was a fourth player.
I told my friend Sam (not his real name) about our weekly golf game, in an effort to have him join our posse. Having never played golf, Sam was reluctant to become part of the group. I assuaged his fears by explaining that we had only been playing for a few months. I informed Sam that none of us had taken any formal lessons and that, with the exception of Damon, getting together was mostly about fun, exercise and camaraderie. After some further back and forth conversation, Sam and I agreed to a compromise. He decided to come out one weekend as an observer, to see if he liked the game enough to invest in a set of clubs and participate with us on a regular basis.
The weekend Sam picked to join us was a hot (90+ degrees) and humid day, typical weather for the month of August in Georgia. We loaded up our rented golf carts and headed out to the 1st tee. Sam seemed to be enjoying himself, finding much humor in some of our errant shots, and how determined we were to hit our way out of the most difficult of circumstances. We even let Sam try his hand at putting on a few of the greens. He was quite amazed at the smooth and undulating terrain, likening it to the felt on a pool table. Sam was having a good time laughing at our misfortune and congratulating us on our rare good shots as he drove one of the golf carts and knocked back cold beers on a hot summer day. What occurred next would remain a topic of both occasional discussion and secrecy among our little group for years to come.
The 7th tee at Sugar Creek Golf Course has an elevated tee box. After parking your cart at the hole marker you ascend a small hill in order to tee off onto a narrow fairway that slopes downhill with a dogleg to the right. Damon and Harold quickly grabbed their drivers and climbed the hill, anxious to begin playing hole #7. As I passed the cart Sam was driving, I noticed that he did not look so good. His eyes were barely open and he appeared to be in somewhat of a daze. I asked Sam if he was okay. He did not respond. When I placed my hand on his shoulder, his head dropped forward like a boulder falling off a mountain. The only thing keeping Sam from tumbling forward and out of the golf cart was my hand on his shoulder.
I dropped my driver and placed my free hand on Sam’s other shoulder. I began to shake him vigorously, but he remained unresponsive. I called to Harold and Damon, telling them there was something wrong with Sam. In a matter of seconds, both came charging down the hill toward the golf cart, as I continued to shake Sam in an attempt to revive him. Damon pushed me out of the way. He grabbed Sam by the shoulder, reached back with his free hand and gave Sam a resounding slap across the face. Nothing happened. While I stood motionless, paralyzed by this surreal scene, Damon reached back and struck Sam again. His second blow carried more force than the first. Harold pushed his way past me and yelled at Damon, “What are you doing; are you trying to kill the guy?”
Harold had grabbed a handful of ice from the cooler on the back of the cart. After pushing Damon out of the way, he applied the ice to the back of Sam’s neck. Slowly, Sam began to move and moan. He was coming out of it. Sam had regained consciousness, but still appeared groggy. I suggested we take Sam to the clubhouse as he looked like he may be in need of medical attention. Damon disagreed. He was leading the round and wanted to complete the last three holes on the front nine of the course (As I said earlier, Damon is very competitive).
As we stood there arguing about what to do about Sam, his condition seemed to improve. We agreed to let Sam decide what was best for him. Trooper that he is, Sam agreed to hang in there for the last three holes. We decided not to let him drive the golf cart, since he still seemed a bit shaky. As an extra precaution, we used our belts to create a makeshift seatbelt, to insure he would not fall out of the cart before we could get him safely to the clubhouse.
By the time we got to the club house, Sam did not feel he was in need of medical attention. In fact, the air conditioned club house helped him make a miraculous recovery. Sam spent the afternoon in the cool comfort of the clubhouse while we completed our round of golf. He reasoned that the combination of the beer and the heat had caused him to pass out.
We stopped at a nearby watering hole after the golf game to get something to eat and brag about our amateur exploits on the course. Sam accompanied us, but wisely decided he had had enough beer for the day. Midway through our meal, I asked Sam how he was feeling. Sam said he felt pretty good, except for a mild headache and that the left side of his face felt sore. We looked at each other, but said nothing about the fact that Damon had slapped the shit out of him (twice!).
Sam decided that golf was not the game for him. We eventually found someone to complete our weekly foursome. Every now end then the subject of Sam’s passing out on the golf course comes up in conversation. Harold and I tease Damon about his uncertified brand of CPR. To this day, no one has ever told Sam what Damon did to him.