Casino’s have the infamous reputation of always winning. If you take money from them, whether from a table game or hitting on a slot machine, some other poor slob loses twice that much two seconds later. The House always wins. It has to be that way or the House ceases to exist. It’s there for one reason, to make money. More to the point they are there to take money, your money. As diabolical as that sounds, there is a place on earth even more so.
You’ve seen it, you may have been on it, it may have made you a widow. Regardless, for sure you know of it. It goes by many names but you probably know it by its original name, its worldly name, its biblical name, Satis Tractus – The Golf Course. My friends you can have your casinos. For pure viciousness in the gutting of a man’s soul, no place on earth compares. Don’t think so? Well my man, let me count the ways.
Golf courses, much like Honey Badgers, just don’t care. Unlike casinos, golf courses aren’t after your money. In fact you can lose a mortgage payment in a casino in a blink. It could take you five years to spend the equivalence of one month’s mortgage payment at a golf course. No my friends, Satis Tractus has no need of your money, it wants your tears.
When you are out of money the casino bars your admittance. The Golf Course will take all your tears, and then entice you back with a good round, or just a single good shot. All for the singular purpose of breaking your spirit.
Then, when you think you have nothing left to give the Golf Course, it alerts you to your club house rewards points, with enough built up for a free round. You’ve now put your soul in the pot. And unlike a casino, there is absolutely no chance of getting it back. For every badly dressed schlep who loses his soul on The Course, everyone in the foursome behind you loses theirs too. Unlike a casino where the house always wins, The Course never loses. There is a difference.
So it’s a rare day when The Course gives ground, when it weakens just for a nanosecond, allowing golfers everywhere a glimmer of hope. Tales like these come along once in a millennia. I believe my purpose for being is to tell this tale.
A Tree Falls in Knoxville
In the summer and fall of 2013 a strong wind came down from the north west of Knoxville Tennessee. Caused by my consistent missing of the ball with my driver, this unholy wind continued for a season. And yes I mean missing completely, total whiffing of the ball. Follow through complete, golf ball still resting atop its tee, flipping me off.
This zephyr blinded me and those with me to the evil growing in the west, specifically on the Par 5 tenth hole at Dead Horse Lake Golf Course. You see, because I was unable to connect with the ball from the tee box, I was never in position to notice this… this ruination waiting in the distance; hungry for a fresh helping of tear soaked souls.
Fast forward to the spring of 2015. After a rib muscle tear and rehab in the back yard with 100 swings a day I was back, recklessly offering my soul to The Course. Only this time, my rhythm true, the ball no longer smugly mocking me, my offer left the tee with great velocity, finding the short grass. I know, crazy right?
Standing over my tee shot, dead center of the fairway on afore mentioned #10 at Dead Horse, I get a glimpse of what was to become my nemesis for hundreds of rounds.
To say it was an ill placed tree is a gross underselling. The Course knew what it was doing. A giant oak standing guard in the middle of the #10 fairway rendered every straight tee shot impotent. An approach to the green, a lay up to a desired yardage to make a higher percentage approach, no matter, The Tree made it impossible. Unless your ball had a seeing eye dog for an escort or was somehow guided by GPS technology, the next shot would require the skill of a PGA Tour pro. And not some journeyman either. It would take a seasoned veteran with several wins under his/her belt to navigate the Oaken Sentinel.
I ain’t shamed to say I wished irreparable harm to said tree. I even pimped the course folk on FB as they were redesigning, begging them to accidentally on purpose hit the tree with some large course redesigning equipment. No such luck. So I had to pull up my big boy golf shorts and deal. How did it go you ask. Well, think of the bible story David and Goliath, but Goliath wins. And he doesn’t just win, he destroys, demoralizes, and otherwise eviscerates David.
Perfectly struck shots gobbled up, deflected, denied, and outright rejected from their intended path. I once hit a ball that hit the base of the Oak Tree. It ran up the trunk and was launched into the air, backward, over my head. After hitting the ball forward it was now 40 yards behind me. Goliath v David, yeah that comes close to our battle.
But no more my friends! A stronger wind, from the east this time, has purged this peril from our path. Torrents of rain, streaks of dancing lightning, and thunderous.. well.. ya know… thunder, brought the misplaced misfit to its knees, or stump, or whatever a tree uses instead of knees. Word came by way of a runner of the vanquished foe. And the word was only a stump remained, not even the carcass could be found. Dragged off no doubt, by the gods, as to avoid further embarrassment.
My playing partner and brother of the bearer of the great news, standing aside the fallen sentinel. We took care not to mock for too long, but we got our jabs in. Now while the stump has been removed, the footprint in the grass remains. The once mighty behemoth is all but vanished.
He will not be missed.