Dead, Buried, and Beeping In The Bunker

Larry SnarkvilleAnalyst IDecember 6, 2009

Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros attempts an unusual bunker shot during practice for the Open Championship at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, 1998. (Photo by Stephen Munday/Getty Images)
Stephen Munday/Getty Images

Caddying for Tom was always a trip.

A financially well-heeled investment type, he was probably in his mid-sixties, yet he played golf with an old set of Wilson Ultra irons (2-w), a lob wedge (I think it was the first one ever made),a driver and three wood. All with stiff shafts. For those of you unfamiliar with the nomenclature of golf, typically the stronger player (i.e., those with faster "swing speeds") use stiff shafts (don't go there). Suffice it to say, Tom was using clubs that he probably had had since the 1970's.

I say he was a "trip" because of his rather odd ways.

Any shot within 100 yards or so, would have him saying to me, "I'll take the lob wedge, Mike." No matter the lie (the manner in which the ball was resting on the ground). In golf, the ball's lie is one of the most important factors in selecting the proper club. To Tom, though, lie never mattered. He was going to hit the club he wanted to hit. Period.

One day, on the 10th tee, he dribbled his tee shot about fifty yards. The ball came to rest on a severely downhill lie, about 400 yards to the front of the green on this par 5 (normally a hole of over 500 yards). The prudent thing to have done in this situation would have been to get the ball safely back into "play," i.e., into the fairway, so he would have a chance to better advance the ball on his next shot. Not Tom.

"I'll take the 2-iron, Mike," he said.

In today's game, very few, if any golfers still carry a two-iron, never mind actually try to hit it. Tom was not deterred. You know the rest. He took a mighty swipe and the ball sliced violently (a common occurrence with a downhill lie) into a fairway bunker.

One of Tom's other unique realities was that he wore two hearing aids, one in each ear. Faced with this difficult bunker shot (ball buried, sitting below a very high bunker face), he hacked at it. The ball ricocheted off the face of the bunker, hit him in the head, knocked him off his feet, and dislodged one of his hearing aids which fell somewhere into the sand.

"No problem," announced Tom. "It'll beep every so often, so all we have to do is listen and when it beeps, we'll know where it's buried," he continued while wiping the cut on his forehead with his circa 1887 handkerchief.

You should have seen Tom, me, and the other players in the group, bent over in the bunker listening for his hearing aid to beep so we could retrieve it.

We never did find the hearing aid, although I hear that there's a fox running the fields of the golf course with a strange howl.

For the rest of the round, I had to make sure I was on his "good side" whenever answering one of his customary many golfing queries.

And, oh by the way, Tom also drove a dark blue Lotus.

Can't make it up.