“Oh my god! Did that just go in?! I think that went in!”
I was 15 years old and I had just hit the golf shot of a lifetime.
Set deep in the trees with over a hundred yards to go and just a six-foot window to put the ball through, I was in what us hackers affectionately call a “swing and pray” situation, as in swing hard and pray the ball misses all of the trees directly in front of you. Normally I’d simply utilize my trusty foot wedge and conveniently relocate the ball somewhere less deadly, but just as I located my ball a family walking down an adjacent road spotted me in the forestry and stopped to watch the show.
I spent the next few minutes nervously trying to figure out my shot while pretending not to hear the muffled voices of my own personal shame gallery standing directly behind me.
Flustered, I prayed a short and desperate prayer, nervously stepped up to the ball and swung.
The shot was perfect. It threaded the six-foot window, cleared the rough, making its way onto the fairway, where it bounced a few times before rolling up onto the green and toward the pin in the back left location where it eventually slowed to a trickle and fell into the cup!
The family ERUPTED with cheers and congratulations. Truthfully, I was just as shocked as they were! Did that really just happen?!
What I really wanted to do in that moment was strip naked and do a victory role in the bunker, but for reasons I can only blame on television, I instead very cooly sheathed my club and tipped my hat like it was just another day at the office. Nothing to see here. Business as usual. Like a BOSS.
Then I threw my clubs over my shoulder and walked toward the green never to see them again.
Every now and then I like to imagine that family and the conversations that must have ensued as they continued on their walk. Sometimes I like to picture them years later sitting around the campfire with their grandkids who, unable to contain their excitement, plead, “Grandpapa, tell us the one about HIM!”
“Ohhh,” he would say as he took the weathered pipe out of his mouth and leaned in, “You mean the boy in the absurdly large Wu Tang t-shirt with the mysterious brand of clubs? Some say he never missed a shot outside a hundred yards.”
I imagine for years they gathered in front of the TV every night to watch Sportscenter, searching for the face of the young golfing prodigy who would no doubt be the next great golfer of our time.
Of course, the truth is I have no earthly idea what happened to that family. Perhaps they kept on walking and after that day never again thought about me or that shot ever again. Perhaps they were a family of cloggers who thought rudimentary games like golf to be a complete waste of time.
Or maybe, just maybe, they’re a lot more like you and me.
Maybe somewhere along the way they thought about picking up golf but felt at this point they were too far behind to begin. Maybe they even gave golf a try for a while but grew frustrated when each shot fell so painfully short of the perfection they witnessed that day.
Regardless of what did or didn’t happen after that day, here’s what that family doesn’t know:
One, the reason they’d never heard of the brand name on my clubs is it doesn’t exist. A friend of my dad’s made them in his garage and each weighed approximately 14 pounds, if I remember correctly.
And two, I had never hit a shot like that previously, and almost 20 years later, I have yet to hit a shot like that again. It truly was the best shot of my life and they just so happened to be there on just the right day, on just the right hole, for just the right shot to witness it. The odds of things playing out the way they did are so small its almost laughable.