In a lifetime, there are rare and fleeting moments when we witness briefly balanced scales.
A few weeks ago I was indulging in my somewhat obsessive passion for golf. It is a sport that I have only started playing a few years ago and I have found it to be relaxing and mind clearing as well as a nice way to get some exercise. Playing well is secondary.
Thankfully, just about every golfer I have met has been polite and friendly. Maybe it has something to do with the location but, I have also played in Florida and the Caribbean, and have found the same kind of people.
A few weeks ago I had the worst golf experience of my short career. Keith and I were playing on Cape Cod and we had just finished playing the ninth of 18 holes. There were two parties of players behind us who seemed to be in more of a hurry than we were and we let them pass through so we could, perhaps, feel a little less pressured to play quickly.
As we got onto the 10th green a man of about 45 suddenly appeared about 50 yards behind us in the fairway and stood there glaring at me as if I had just stolen his first newborn. He was playing with a teenage boy. He didn't say anything and I turned to my partner with a few choice words about how close this
Normally if someone in is in such a hurry I would let them play through, but this guy had such an attitude that I was not going to do anything nice for him. As we kept playing hole after hole, this guy kept hitting his ball very close to us, not waiting for a safe distance. Doing this is something that any golfer knows is just not a polite or safe thing to do.
As we got closer to the 18th hole, Keith and I began to realize that this guy behind us had ruined our day. His dark cloud had shrouded us and we had become victims of his intense attitude. As much as I tried to tell myself that I wouldn't let this
** bother me I knew I was lying to myself.
At the final hole I lost my ball and found one where my ball should have been so I played it. Finally, the
** golfer approached me and said, "I think that is my ball," with all of the nasty attitude he could muster. I tried to let him know how mad I was at him for hitting his ball so close to us all of those holes.
He dug in and said, "You cut in front of us on the 10th hole." Now I was really getting mad enough to want to smash his head in, but I am not that kind of person. So this guy spent 9 holes intimidating us because he thought we cut in front of him. What a great example he set for the kid playing with him.
I knew it would have been useless to try to explain to him why he thought we cut in front of him and how that would have been impossible. In the end, four people had a lousy day of golf and the bitterness stayed with Keith and I for a number of days.
Then, about a week later, the slate was wiped clean. I was playing with a friend in Northfield, MA and he lost his ball on the 8th hole. While we were looking for it we pointed out where a few balls had landed from a party going in a different parallel direction. My partner played a new ball and we headed to the green. As we walked in that direction a woman from the party we had just encountered took the time to drive her cart away from where she was playing and deliver the lost ball to my partner.
Hopefully, the bad encounter on the Cape will be a once in a lifetime event.
Richard Davis is a registered nurse and long-time health care advocate. He writes from Guilford and welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.