At City Owned Slippery Meadows...
The squeaking, wobbling wheel had barely stopped spinning on the broken axel of one of the the overturned and smoking golf carts on the 10th tee when Head Pro Ralph Wacksmeier made the announcement. “Effective immediately, the plan to speed up play has been suspended. And, if anybody finds Duke Swidley’s iPod near the wreck, please bring it to the Pro Shop. His Ear Buds are still in his ears, so all we need is the iPod. Thank you.”
While it might be easy for an outsider to say that one broken limb, a possible concussion, 12 stitches and a lost iPod -- all a result of a multi-cart pile up at the Halfway Hut are reason enough to put the brakes on a hastily created blueprint to speed-up golfers, some perspective is necessary.
The plan, hatched three weeks ago during a particularly crowded period as playing times soared, was the brainchild of City Planner, Harp Smith. Wacksmeier says, he reached out to Smith one afternoon when the playing time had reached past seven hours. “He was here, in a foursome of other City workers. I kinda‘ joked, ‘you’re the City Planner. Plan how to speed things up.‘ I guess he took me serious. ‘Cause the next thing you know, I got the Mayor on the phone and he’s telling me to do this thing.”
For Smith’s part, he says Wacksmeier was more than a little upset as he and his playing partners left the 9th green nearly four hours after teeing off on number one. “The Pro got us off first thing that morning. I admit, we’re not the best players. And one of my group was on oxygen. But, I didn’t appreciate that he was so angry. Four hours for nine holes doesn’t seem that bad to me. It’s just a game. Besides, we were enjoying the scenery. We even spent a little time over by that pond on number 4 skipping stones. Anyway, when Mr. Wacksmeier sort of impugned my profession - telling me I ought to figure out a plan to speed things up, I took it as a challenge. And, by God, on paper the scheme I outlined will work perfectly.”
In brief, here’s the strategy Smith proposed:
Using theorems and equations he got from books he used when he took his on-line college course for his City Planning degree, Smith says he devised a stratagem that would “cut playing times down to one hour, not including pit stops.”
It was hot and steamy on the day in question. Assistant Pro Hake Weed recalls: “I had a bad feeling as I rented those full-face helmets to the guys. I noticed right off, the visors started steaming up as soon as I helped ‘em cinch up the strap and closed ‘er up.”
One player, Conor Cormick, recalls: “I couldn’t breathe. I got light headed right away. I also had a hard time seeing the ball. Smoking my cigar was very difficult. And, whenever I’d bend over to putt, I’d lose my balance. Other than that, it was okay, I guess. You know what they say, ‘a bad day on the golf course is better than a good day at work.”
The police report of the incident reported the following: “At approximately 9:30 a.m. two modified golf carts, carrying a total of four occupants, approached the crossover point from the ninth hole on the Slippery Meadows course at high speed. At the same time, another foursome of two carts approached at high speed from the opposite direction of the 15th hole. All four carts were headed toward the Halfway Hut for a cold beverage. Meanwhile, a Golfer, 61 year old Fontana Marsh, had lost her ball and become disoriented from heat stroke. The visor of her helmet had fogged over and she was unable to see where she was going. She reported that she tripped on something and stumbled onto the cart path and heard high speed Golf carts approaching.”
From here, we pick up the story from eyewitness, Edna Tootenhopf, proprietor of the Halfway Hut. “I seen the guys comin‘ from the 9th hole. And, wham - this person kinda leaped out of the bushes onto the path. She, like, froze up or something. The carts had nowhere to go. They swerved and both of ‘em commenced to rolling over. That’s when the other two carts come from the opposite direction and got landed on by them other two. You don’t expect to see that much smoke and flames from a golf cart.”
Amazingly, Marsh was unscathed from the initial crash. She did, however, suffer smoke inhalation when she accidentally walked into the smoking wreckage - because of her heat stroke disorientation and fogged-over visor. The foursome in the first two carts, Andy Tutoor, Phil Basko, Todd Wente and Jaime Rutherford suffered various bruises and contusions with Wente also suffering a hairline fracture of his right tibia. In carts three and four, Boomer Weichard, Tony Ward and Elmer Pittswheel were shaken - but mostly uninjured. The fourth player, Mickey Dogslaw suffered a cut requiring 3 stitches to his “drinking hand.” A bystander, Jesus Gonsalez, received a minor concussion when he was hit by a flying wheel as he mowed the tenth tee.
City Planner Smith continues to defend his formula for speeding up play. “If you examine the police report carefully, you’ll see the accident in question had more to do with both foursomes racing to the Halfway Shack to put in their beer order first than it did with playing too fast on the golf course.”
Be that as it may, the fact remains, the speed-up policy has been slowed down by a City Council review, scheduled for next month. For the foreseeable future, golf has returned to a more languid pace. “People are still getting heat stroke,” says Head Pro Wacksmeier, “They’re just doing it the old fashioned way.”
Larry Caringer has been writing humor for broadcast for a long time. Now, he's writing it for you. The stories, here, are from a collection of short stories from his book "Golf Beat: A Year in the Life of Persimmon Pines."