If you go too far, you’re lost: a golfer’s nightmare

IF YOU GO TOO FAR, YOU’RE LOST: A GOLFER’S NIGHTMARE

I had a dream last night where I was playing golf with Jack Nicklaus and two other professionals, one looked like view is from India or Pakistan or Fuji and the other was just your average old garden-variety professional golfer. A big gallery was watching us. We had all missed the green, and were looking at difficult approaches to saving our pars. The first golfer hit a fabulous flop shot, way up high in the air, it landed softly very close to the hole, and the appreciative gallery applauded. The ball rolled toward the hole, looked like it might go in, but at the last second it slid off to the right and almost came to complete stop. But it didn’t. It kept trickling, wouldn’t stop, just kept rolling along. It rolled slowly down a previously unseen slope, picking up speed as it went. It bombed toward a small creek running along the edge of the green, with a bridge over it. I thought to myself, That ball is going in the water, damn that sucks, he hit such a beautiful shot. But instead of rolling into the water, the ball was funneled towards a hidden hole, where it disappeared, like in a miniature golf putt putt course. The gallery groaned and sighed in dismay. The ball disappeared under the creek, you could hear it clunking down the tunnel, and you could feel the tension in the crowd as they waited to see where the ball was going to end up. Finally it spit out of the ground on the other side of the creek. It flew into the air, and landed next to a muddy, swampy bog where some very hungry looking alligators were lurking, lounging, ready for a midafternoon snack. In the background I could hear commentator saying what bad luck that was, what a great shot he hit, and how almost no one survives Alligator Alley, as the locals have dubbed it. Wait a minute, I thought, how did I miss those alligators? Were there always alligators there? Does the PGA know about this? Lanky lizards, that doesn’t seem right! I was standing on the other side of the green from the alligators, with Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear, the greatest golfer in the world has ever known. He is studying his upcoming chip shot. It’s a big green, and the hole is in the middle, so there’s plenty of room to run a pitch right up to the hole, leaving the ball below it for a tidy up and down, thus saving par. The only difficulty is that you have to get the ball up over a small blooming cactus garden that sits between Jack and the green. Cactus garden? How had I not seen all those beautiful blooming cactuses? Radioactive reds, outrageous oranges, blinding blues. So I said to Jack, You just going to pitch and run that up to the hole, eh? After all, he’s executed shots like this a million times before. Hey, you don’t get to be the Golden Bear for nothing. But Jack shakes his head, worried, purses his thin lips, exposing his white teeth. No, it’s a lot trickier than it looks, he said. If you go too far, you’re lost. Wow, I thought to myself, Jack is a deep guy. If you go too far, you’re lost. Jack Nicklaus is a really profound man. Who knew? Jack studies his shot, talks to his caddie, the gallery is restless in anticipation, the TV commentator is whispering about how everything rides on that in this shot, how hard the shot is, but if anyone can do it, Jack can. Jack addresses the ball, performs a few waggles, then strikes it. The white ball travels in a majestic arc over the Technicolor cactus blooms and lands exactly where it should on the green green. It’s rolling straight toward the hole, tracking like it’s metal and the pin is a magnet. The commentator excitedly whispers how this may go in the hole, and the crowd is going berserk, ready to erupt explosively when the ball goes in. Closer and closer it rolls. You just know in your heart that ball is going in, there’s no way it can’t, this is the Golden Bear after all. And yes, the ball actually hits the pin. It can bounces straight up into the air, and it seems to take forever as it plummets down down down, and now the crowd is holding its breath, you could hear a pin drop as the pin quivers in the hole. And the ball disappears like a rabbit down the hole. He did it! the commentator shouts, Jack did it again! The gallery screams and shouts and whoops and hollers. As do I. What a champion, what clutch performer, that’s why he’s the greatest that ever lived. And then suddenly the ball pops back up out of the hole. It hit the bottom of the cup too hard, it was going too fast, and the golf gods spat it back. The crowd groans and moans as for the ball skitters away from the hole, picking up speed as it rolls away, off the green and coming to rest in a sand trap. Jack stoically shakes his head, like he somehow knew this was going to happen. But wait a second, the ball is disappearing, the trap is actually quicksand! And the commentator whispers excitedly that Jack is going to have to go in after it, and there’s a very good chance he will come out alive. Well, the commentator comments, it’ll be a fitting end to a heroic golfing career. Quicksand? Since when has there been quicksand on the PGA Tour? I’m gonna have to talk to my union a rep about this, there’s got to be something in the bylaws about alligators and quicksand! Now it’s my turn to hit my shot. I know exactly what I want to do with the ball, I have my 64° wedge, but I can see the shot so clearly that I need to make. I want to click the ball with some backspin, to make it check up just below the hole. But all I can think about is those alligators and that quicksand, and now on the left side of the green I notice that there are land mines. Landmines? What the hell are land mines doing in the middle of a golf course? Now I see myself blown to bits, my blood and guts shooting into the sky and landing all over the green. I am paralyzed with utter fear. There is no shot I can hit that will not result in all horrifying painful death. If you go too far, you’re lost. And then I wake up hyperventilating in a cold sweat. Good morning to me.

About David Sterry

David Henry Sterry is the author of 16 books, a performer, muckraker, educator, book editor, activist, and book doctor. His first memoir, Chicken, was an international bestseller, and has been translated into 10 languages. “As laconic as Dashiell Hammett, as viscerally hallucinogenic as Hunter S Thompson. Sex, violence, drugs, love, hate, and great writing, what more could you ask for?” – The Irish Times.
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