Friday, July 12, 2013

No. 328 – I’m Talking to You

Performer: Neal Schon & Jan Hammer
Songwriters: Neal Schon, Colin Hodgkinson, Jan Hammer
Original Release: Untold Passion
Year: 1981
Definitive Version: None

I used to be something of a golfer. I say something because I never really was good at it, but I used to play fairly regularly. This was 30 years ago.

Mike got me into golf the summer after we met. We’d take a couple of odd clubs and hike to Scioto Country Club, which was about three blocks from his home, and sneak onto the course, which was easy to do if no one was playing that day. Even though I’d never swung a golf club before, it was fun to go and hit.

After we got our drivers licenses, we started to play for real, because we now were able to go to golf courses on which we actually could afford to play. Three public courses were fairly close to where we lived; we visited two regularly. Those were Raymond, which was a mile to the west on Trabue Road; and Bash, which was way up on Scioto River Road close to the Columbus Zoo. (Raymond is still there; Bash is a long-distant memory.)

It’s been interesting over the years to drive by Raymond and see the changes. It’s now become a fairly respectable public golf course. Back in the ‘80s, it was a dump. Bash never made any pretenses that it was anything more than a dump. Raymond cost $5.50 for 18 holes; Bash cost $5, and Bash also let you play nine for a measly $3.

Even back then, Raymond was the better, more challenging course overall, but I preferred Bash. I liked the layout, that it was less crowded, and—let’s face, it, this was important—that I got better scores there. Of the four legitimate that-duffed-shot-didn’t-count birdies I ever got, two were at Bash. Bash also had a funky little clubhouse that served great hot dogs, which, with a Coke, was a must after coming off the links.

After Steve became friends with me and Mike during our junior year of high school, I started playing with Steve more, because he had a lot more free time than Mike did.

Steve was a better player than I was, although we were close enough in ability that the matches were competitive, although I don’t recall that I ever beat him—maybe once. It didn’t matter, because I really was playing against myself and just out to have fun, which golf was back then when it still was new, and I still was showing signs of improving.

One time when we went to play Raymond, Steve had Untold Passion on his tape player. Steve was a huge Journey fan, too, and I liked the sound of this song. But the most memorable golf outing was when we went to Bash one time, just us, I think the summer after our senior year. The course was almost entirely empty, because it was hotter than Hell that day, so we pretty much did whatever we wanted.

As I mentioned, Bash was a short course, although it still was scored as a par-72. My friend Jim once said, “Life is too short to count penalty strokes,” and because we were kids who weren’t really serious about our golf, we lived by that rule. At Bash, I could get in the 90s consistently with the help of my best club—the pencil wedge. (In fact, I think I did get a 90 once—one over par per hole.)

Anyway, we took our time working the course, both scoring fairly well, joking around, having fun. We got to this one hole—I don’t remember the number—that had a big dog leg to the left around what once might have been a large pond but now was a huge, unplayable stone gulley.

Steve and I each had enough power to cut the corner somewhat, but Steve had a big advantage in that he was a lefty. He could play a big hook that bent around the corner and rolled closer to the green with less risk that he’d drop it into the gulley.

On this one particular day, he set up his tee far to the right and pulled out his driver. I could tell he was going for the big one, maybe even roll it onto the green on this shrimpy par-4. About 20 feet from the tee to the right was a huge tree, an oak or a maple, that you pretty much had to aim for to hit. It wasn’t really an obstacle … unless you were a lefty going for a big fade.

Sure enough, Steve ripped his drive, and it hit the tree halfway up dead center with a loud THOCK!, the ball bouncing back at almost the same angle and with nearly as much force. As Steve, in follow-through, and I watched wordlessly, the ball bounced past the tee and slowly rolled into the pond behind the tee. Steve, still in perfect follow-through, just looked at me with a complete look of wah-wah-wah-waaaaaah on his face. Neither of us said a word, and we both broke up.

You gonna play it from there?

Over time, we played less together. Steve played a lot more than I did and got so much better and more serious about his game that it no longer was fun for him, so he began to play with other people who matched his passion.

Meanwhile, I got out of the game completely. I probably haven’t swung a golf club aside from a putt-putt putter in 28 years. Time marches on.

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