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Outdoor Life: The day golf finally paid me back
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The marketing folks at Master Card got it right.  Their commercial about the guy that spends money for green fees, balls, gloves, new clubs and golf trips   is about a fellow who gets frustrated because he never seems to catch a break.  His shots are always errant in the clutch and no matter what he does things always seem to go awry.  Then comes the day when golf pays him back.  The low round, the great shot, or beating the hated rival fall into this category.  Their point being that the day this finally happens after all the frustration is, in their words, “Priceless.”
    Without a doubt I fall into the category of frustrated golfer.  The game is difficult.  Calling golf difficult is like calling the Taj Mahal a pretty nifty tomb.  It fails to effectively illustrate just how aggravating the game can be.  The difficulty component coupled with the fact that my athletic ability has never been overwhelming makes things worse.  Advancing age further erodes those meager skills and makes golf downright troublesome for me.
    But again the Master Card people were right.  I am sure of that now because the game paid me back a few days ago.  I hesitate to use the word “paid” here because of the circumstances.  Something happened to me that every golfer dreams of, but rarely, if ever, gets a chance to revel in.  Out of the blue, after thirty plus years of playing, I made my first hole in one.  It was a thunderbolt from above, a shocker of mammoth proportions, a prodigious shot, and an Olympic 10 all rolled into one.  Yep, it was luck.
    Now, as Larry Munson would say, “get the picture.” I was playing in a tournament at the Georgia Club with Coach Kenny Moore, the Right Reverend Tom Duff, and master financial planner Trey Rhodes.  As you can easily imagine I was the least proficient player on the team just trying to do something to help us win.  I had done precious little to help the cause until the fifteenth hole.  Coach Moore had just hit a nifty little shot to within eighteen inches of the pin.  There was a sign on that hole alerting us to the fact that there was a prize to be won on that particular day for anyone scoring a hole in one.  The prize was $25,000.  With that in mind I jokingly asked Coach Moore to go down and mark his ball so it would not keep my ball from going in.  As you can guess the closest shot I’d hit all day was a bladed eight iron that wound up forty feet from the pin.  So I pulled out my seven iron and hit one of my few solid shots of the day.  It hit a little left and short of the pin, spun and began to roll toward the hole.  When it went in the cup shocked silence was followed by my rendition of a dance which could best be described as a cross between the moonwalk and the electric slide (with apologies to those who can actually do those complex dances.)
    It was a day when the stars were lined up just right.  We were having a blast just being out there playing, but we also won the tournament, I got my first hole in one, and golf paid me back.  It was, as the man said, Priceless.
    (Author’s note:  I should mention that I realized only a small percentage of that wad of cash.  Uncle Sam took a significant bite and most of the rest went toward building a nice deck on the back of our house.  My wife proudly gave me $100 to spend in any way I saw fit.  I was, nonetheless still the envy of my friends and talk of the town but none of them knew until today that I was given access to only a miniscule portion of the prize.)

    Alvin Richardson is a contributing writer, retired educator, and public speaker. Contact him at dar8589@bellsouth.net