As an amateur golfer hoping to improve my social skills and golf game, one of the mistaken assumptions I made was thinking that I could do this by randomly joining groups of golfers on the local city golf course. These were all types, desperate husbands who needed to get away from their wives, high powered business executives who were one meeting away from losing their sanity, and blue-collar types who started drinking at 6 AM because they thought they played better golf when they were drunk.

When I joined these groups, I’d shake their hands, getting a sense of what I was in for. They all had oral fixations, smoking, drinking, or chewing tobacco and the occasional bubble gum. It was like they were kids who never grew up and the golf course was their own Neverland, the place they could return to after a lifetime of responsibility. I was just starting out, trying to figure-out a lot of things. I don’t know if the golf course was the best place to do this, but it was my entry into the adult world.

Ryan was a regular at Maplewood. He had his cronies and they were all going to turn pro. One of them had a landscaping business and the other drove a red Porsche. A cloud from their cigarettes and cigars lingered above them as they waited for the next guy to tee off. They drank Fosters. It came in the large cans and between their three golf carts, they had four coolers filled with beer.

“Ryan, when are you going to quit your job at the golf course and join the tour?” One of them asked.

“About the time you stop drinking and living with your mom,” Ryan said.

They left the number 1 tee, driving as fast as they could to hole number 1. Ryan preferred the old Yamaha; it was the souped-up Marshal Cart that nobody drove anymore because it went too fast. It didn’t make turns well and the steering wheel only worked half of the time. By number 4, Ryan was plastered. He drove it under a tree at 35 miles per hour, neglecting the low-hanging limbs. The top ripped off. This would’ve fazed most people, but not Ryan. He worked there. No one would care. And if the boss noticed, he could find a plausible excuse; this was is forte.

By the time they reached number 9, Ryan was bored. He wanted to see how fast the old marshal cart could go. He put it in neutral and started down the mountain. Maybe he forgot the sharp turn near the ladies’ tees or he was just too drunk to care, but when he hit the curb, his convertible cart rolled and kept rolling until it reached the bottom. The sides fell off, but remarkably, he stayed inside. Ryan escaped without a scratch. This is how he was and this is why he loved the game of golf. It favored him, like a force that kept him free.

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