Friday, November 7, 2014

How to Mark Your Ball

I'm sweating to death in the back row of my high school's 15 passenger van.  I've got 5 sets of golf clubs crammed in the seat next to me and all of the windows are rolled up.  We're sitting in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart while our golf coach is inside buying golf balls.  We're running late to the tournament.

It wasn't often that I got to play in varsity tournaments, but it was my lucky day.  We took our top 5 players to every varsity tournament, but I was either number 8 or 9 on our team's player list, depending on the year.  Circumstances had aligned just right this time:  somebody's grandma had died.  Another player's sister had a dance recital he had to attend.  Another player was suspended for two weeks for drinking beer in his car in the school parking lot.  I was a last minute replacement player. It wasn't the first time, so I knew the drill:  We all got a brand new sleeve of golf balls before the tournament. 

After a few minutes, we see our coach coming toward us with two boxes of golf balls tucked under his arm.  He's sort of running, sort of waddling, breathing heavy, nearly getting run over in the parking lot.  He was a replacement too.  He took over on late notice when our previous coach moved back to Florida two weeks before school started.  We all thought this guy was a doofus.  He wasn't helping himself.

We passed the balls around the van, each taking a sleeve of balls.  Then someone got out the golf ball engraver.

The golf ball engraver was a ridiculous hand-held gadget which let you stamp your initials on the side of a golf ball.  There were little plastic letters you could change and insert into the side of the device.  It was limited to three letters at a time.  There was a sheet of blue carbon paper you stuck between the letters and the golf ball and when you pressed them together you got 3 bright blue letters right on the side of the ball.

We were supposed to be engraving LHS on our balls, our high school's initials, but being teenage boys, we thought of every crude 3 letter word or 3 letter abbreviation for a slightly longer crude word.  We passed them around the van laughing at each other's creations:  POO, NUT, PEE. Use your imagination.

I thought the engraver was so cool, I got one of my own later that year and used it to stamp by own initials on my golf balls for a few years.

A few months ago, I was running late to my tee time at the golf course.  I was out of new golf balls, so I grabbed a handful from my used bucket of balls I keep in my garage and threw them in my golf bag.  Later that day after hitting a tree on the 17th hole and cutting the cover of my ball, I needed a new ball for the 18th.  So, I reached into my bag and pulled out a ball.

I noticed it was a little discolored and dirty.  A Top Flite XL? I haven't used these in years, I thought.  But then I saw it, stamped on the side of the ball in faded blue ink:  TRD.  I think I laughed out loud.  Then I remembered our best player on the team saying to us in the van: "I hate these cheap balls Coach buys us.  They're like hitting a rock solid turd."

But I scrubbed off the dirt and teed it up.  And then I made a par with that old TRD.


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