Monday, August 17, 2015

Nailed It!

After between ten and fifteen attempts over eight years I finally hit the cenotaph at the hock of the dogleg on the sixth hole of the White Golf Course at Penn State University.  (Mars and I were playing there on the last day of our annual golf-week Road Scholar program at the college.)
 From the white tees hole number six is a 496-yard par five with a steep uphill rise followed by a ninety degree left turn to a green at the bottom of that slope.  My shot came from the bottom of the hill with a three-wood (which actually now are made of of metal).   It may have been my best one of this trip.   At the highest point is a small stone monument to Willie Park Jr.      I certainly had nothing against Park Jr., but that is what I was aimed at and that is what I struck.


Wikipedia says “Willie Park, Jr. (February 1864– 22 May 1925) was one of the top professional golfers of his era, winning The Open Championship twice. Park was also a successful golf equipment maker and golf writer. In his later years, Park built a significant career as one of the world's best golf course architects, with a world-wide business. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2013.”

In 1922 at Penn State Park Jr. laid out the second set of nine holes on what was at the time called “The College Golf Course”.  I don’t know if this particular part of the golf course was one of his creations; or if this is the layout’s highest point; or even what the words on the tomblike monument said.  There were other players behind us and as good golf citizens our foursome felt an obligation to keep up with “the pace of play” as links-people like to call it.  In fact I might have even misread the whole thing and the stone may have been dedicated to country singer Willie Nelson or the 1960s hit record “MacArthur Park” – but the architectural connection makes me pretty sure that I have the right guy.
My golf ball had settled down amidst the bed of begonias that had been planted to decorate that spot earlier this spring.  So, within my understanding of the rules of the sport, I quickly moved it so as not to endanger the flowers and hit my next shot, the outcome or trajectory of which I honestly do not remember – because I was still so excited about at long last nailing my target.
Our son, who is not a golfer, wanted to know if hitting the pillar opened a trap door in front of it into which the ball dropped never to be seen again – like the clown’s mouth in mini-golf.  I did have other balls that disappeared into aquatic oblivion, or the dreaded gorse – but not this time.  Clearly he did not understand the significance of the event.
My concern now however is whether this fortunate stroke will turn out to be a blessing or a curse.  I would seem to me that the intent of such a memorial in such a location would be for golfers as they passed by to perhaps rub the smooth granite with their bare hand and thus imbibe some of Park Jr.’s mojo to aid them in their future endeavors.  On the other hand, ever since Cro-Magnon man aimed his first shot at a sheep innocently nestling his chubby ovine body into what would one day become primitive sand bunkers on the windswept coast of Scotland – we should all be aware that a target is a target is a target.
However, even though success in golf is all about repeatability, if it happens again next year then the spirit of Willie Park Jr. has every reason to be really pissed.

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