Note from Larry: Generally, we don't have any problem teeing it up on weekends on BHI...unless it's a big holiday weekend, or we're in the middle of the Summer season. But, other parts of the world face a weekly horror show of weirdness to find a way to get in 18 on a Saturday or Sunday or (God forbid) BOTH! Here's one way one course handled the situation - based on the actual way it was handled when I spend a year as an Assistant Pro back in 2005!
Potential changes in the way area Golfers make tee times at Hooking Hills, the County-owned Golf Course on Route TT, are currently being challenged in Court. The proceedings last week, in the Court Room of Circuit Judge Orson E. O'Hall took a decidedly negative turn when Mickey Dogslaw, one of the complainants acting as his own Lawyer, accused Assistant Golf Professional Terp Seemley of wanting a change in the rules "just so you could go home to sleep with your wife, occasionally." Seemley, on the stand for the County, retorted, "At least I still have a wife," at which point Dogslaw broke down and began crying - irretrievably broken. Court was recessed until next year.
So, in an effort to raise the level of the discourse on this subject, Golf Beat is happy to present an inside look at how the newer system of phone reservations for weekend tee times is working at Slippery Meadows, the City-owned Golf Course operated by PGA Pro Ralph "Jabs" Wacksmeier.
I dropped by just before 6 a.m. on Reservation Wednesday at the Slippery Meadows Pro Shop to watch what I had been told was a flawless operation. The cacophony of phones beeping and ringing made it hard to do more than wave to Wacksmeier and his Assistant Hake Weed. They stood behind the Pro Shop Desk looking more like Captain and First Mate on the bridge of a Starship about to meet Klingons than Golf Professionals about to take tee times. Off to one side, Greenskeeper Nugs Custerd arranged and rearranged pencils and pens in front of the sacred Three Ring Binder labeled "Tee Times."
Wacksmeier shook my hand. "Noisy in here right now. Some people call early - try to be first." He pointed at the phone in front of him. "This one's been ringing since I got here at five."
"What if it's something important?" I asked.
The Pro smiled. "Nothing is more important on Tee Time Wednesday - than taking Tee Times!" He turned to his Assistant. "Hake, remember: The Sickmans can't play before 2." Hake Weed, always cool under pressure, glanced back at his Boss like he was checking out a six-inch tap in.
Wacksmeier checked the clock and pointed at the edge the Golf shoe display. “Take a seat. When the action gets going, we won't have time to answer any questions. It moves quick; and, it can get complicated.”
I strained to be heard over the noise, as I sat on a pair of size 8 Footjoys. "I'm guessing you guys answer the phone and take names for tee times."
The Pro paused. Then, nodded. "That's about it." The ringing of the phones was intense. It seemed even louder, more insistent as the clock's second hand neared 6 a.m. Jabs watched the sweep hand. It touched the 12. "We're on! Go! Go! Go!"
Almost simultaneously, Pro and Assistant went to war. "Slippery Meadows Tee Times Wednesday!" -- they said in unison. Weed continued with his call. "Yes sir, Mr. Rouse - six a.m. Saturday. Regular Foursome? Gotcha." He pointed to Nugs Custerd who scribbled in the four names. How did he know the names? He anticipated my question. "Rouse, Hoostabeek, Biles and Deekel. Been playing together for 40 years." Weed was in the middle of his second call already. But, Wacksmeier seemed caught, stuck on the phone, listening.
"I didn't know it was you, hon. Yeah, it was ringing when I got here; but, it's Tee Time Wednesday. I can't take your Mom to the Emergency Room now."
Hake Weed glanced over, in the middle of his fourth call. He was now bouncing back and forth between his phone - and a third phone. "Slippery Meadows Tee Time Wednesday - please hold."
Annoyed? It wasn't clear. But, it was clear that the slack in the system caused by the personal phone call was definitely throwing a monkey wrench into the process as some players were starting to trickle in to play.
"Babe, I know she's dizzy. She's always dizzy. Sit her down on the couch. I'll be home around 10. Gotta go!" He slammed the phone down. It rang instantly. Bert Quinkley, a Golfer looking to get out early strolled in. He smiled at the Pro. "Hi Jabs. Get me out first thing?" Wacksmeier yanked the phone off the cradle. "Tee Time Wednesday." Quinkley's smile evaporated. "Hi, Mrs. Halterheiser. You and your Husband with the Tuggensuds?” He looked to his scribe who held up 9 fingers. "Nine o'clock. Gotcha." He turned to Mr. Quinkley. "$35.00. Cart, right?" Quinkley held out a 20 dollar bill. "No cart." Jabs grabbed the 20 and the ringing phone in one swipe. He took the next call while punching the keys on the register. Quinkley walked out, muttering, "Could at least say 'thank you'."
Meanwhile, Weed had a slight emergency of his own. “I’m sorry Mr. Schmuckel, you can't join Mr. Neeland’s Foursome. He's already called in with Mr. Iswiggle, Mr. Ginley and Mr. Wasco." He paused while the caller yelled something unpleasant. "I'm sure Turk Neeland had no idea you’d be out on bail so soon.” The Assistant considered the response and replied. “I’ll bet Mr. Wasco would probably be happy to give his spot to you - if that's his only alternative to ‘a good clubbing’ with your nine iron.” Hake paused to for another brief rant. Okay, Lucky. You’re in. Wasco’s out. See you Saturday at 7:16." He hung up the phone. "Nugs - need you to call Bill Wasco - and tell him he needs to find a game on Saturday. Unless he wants to leave the first tee, toes up. Lucky Schmuckel made bail, already." I think Custerd would have responded, but Wacksmeier was already calling out a Foursome for 8:34.
So it went for the next 45 minutes, until all the tee times were taken and next Saturday morning's schedule was completely filled in. That is, until Nugs Custerd noticed something. "Why do the Donatutis and the Fingalicks have three tee times?"
Jabs looked up. "You're supposed to keep an eye out for that, Nugs."
"I thought I was supposed to just write down what you guys holler."
"They all call to back each other up and be sure they get in," added Hake, helpfully.
It took another hour to reach members of the Foursome and to help them arrive at a time that was convenient for all. By then, the flood of Golfers, looking to get out, bumped threateningly against the Pro Shop counter. Wacksmeier checked his schedule. "I've got a lesson in 10 minutes." He turned to his Assistant. "You'll have to watch The Shop."
Weed nodded. "What about your Mother-In-Law? Did somebody else take her to the Emergency Room?"
The Pro checked his watch. "It's only a half hour lesson." He put on his sunglasses and headed out to the lesson tee. "When I get back...don't let me forget to call home."
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."