Thursday, April 29, 2010
Most likely by the time you read this sentence, I will be halfway down the Commonwealth of Virginia on I-95, ready to enjoy four consecutive days of golf, male bonding, and beer.
The 2010 edition of The Malcolm McLeod Memorial golf tournament returns to the glorious “National” in Southern Pines.
This will be the 9th edition of this event. I do not take such a feat lightly. These kind of excursions are susceptible to all kinds of forces that can/do bring them to a halt.
Hell, remember how much I bitched and moaned about these guys last year?
Well, time heals all wounds, and the passion of the moment fades. I could hardly imagine myself intentionally killing an event I both began from a mere seedling, and is growing into such a fine and sturdy specimen.
The excitement in the voices and emails from this group as the magical day approaches, is palpable. How could I ever take that away from all of us?
We have jobs. We have wives (most of us). We have kids. We have bills.
But for these glorious 3 days in early May, we are truly free. Set out among the tall pines and sandy soil of Pinehurst, NC, unsupervised, and on our own recognizance. Our only prime directives: a) When is my tee time? b) Where did my ball go? c) Who has a beer?
I take pride in the wide range of ages, characters, and personalities in the group. In fact, I have been asked more than once by those who meet us in clubhouses, “so, how do you know each other?”
My answer is simple. Golf. The greatest game ever for unifying men of diverse backrounds.
There's Dave, the 40 year old B.A.S.E. Jumper (yes, the insane daredevils who parachute from Buildings Airplanes Structures and Earth, i.e. cliffs!). He's unmarried, un-divorced, no kids. Or as the rest of us like to say: he's “un-defeated and holds all the belts.” Dates 27 year olds. Must be rough.
There's Jimmy J. A retired 60-something government worker who plays to a single digit handicap. Nicest guy you'll ever meet, doesn't drink a drop of alcohol, despite all of the boozers around him on the trip. Blew our minds one year on the trip, when he told us he was a former cocaine addict on a fast track to the grave until he got it together.
There's Bob, aka: the “Screamin' Eagle” who designs classified weapons systems on computers for the department of defense. Hilarious side note: I once had a full military officer come to my house for an in-home visit, and an interview. The Eagle apparently needed a higher security clearance, and used me as a reference! Should told that dude I once saw Eagle move his ball in the rough.
There's McGowan, an easygoing, beer loving, deadpan comment delivering machine. Mike's passion for the game is remarkable, given the fact that he fully comprehends golf's total impossibility. Still, he spends no less than 20 plus hours every year, devising new and exotic potential formats for the event.
His buddy, Fixie, defies accurate summary. It's impossible. Period. The guy can compute numbers like a supercomputer during the day, running a huge hedge fund in a suit. And yet if you meet him on this golf trip you'd swear he worked on a construction crew. Waddles up to the 1st tee wearing the same shirt as he did last night, sopped in bbq sauce. He invades your personal space when drunkenly recounting a particular bogey. He's the master of the innocently inappropriate comment, and has golf swing that looks like a loosely organized flinch. He's my favorite.
We even have a token black guy, even though he's hardly a token. Hatcher is a funnier incarnation of Rod Tidwell from Jerry Maguire. Actually played wide receiver at Cincinnati years ago. Loves golf so much, he'll tolerate hanging with 19 other honkies for 3 days.
And that's just a sampling of the wide swath of humanity that this little get together has accumulated like a snowball rolling downhill. I can't even totally sort out how, exactly, one guy after another got mixed into the group. A friend of a friend, a guy somebody knows at the club, a co-worker, here, an ex-frat brother there, and before you know it, you have this group.
A group that defies all friendship logic.
Yet put together in the pines every spring, and it's like we're all little schoolboys out on a field trip.
I am sure my golf trip, is not un-like your golf trip. Or maybe another “guy” trip involving something suitably manly. Fishing, hunting, bowling. Well, okay, not bowling. Nobody leaves town to bowl.
I think most women get this about guys, our need to bond. Our need to be unsupervised for a while. To be un-admonished for bad behavior, free to employ crude language, and actually proud of our noxious bodily odors.
I often say that women should do more “trips” themselves. I know I urge my wife to get organized, and just go. But for all of womankind's gifts, the gift of “female bonding” is one that seems to elude them.
Perhaps its just a guy thing. We tend to run in packs, and when confronted with the necessary domestication of raising a family and paying the bills, these kind of weekends really scratch something deep in our DNA.
The caliber of golf is mediocre by almost everyone's expectations. We all wish we would play better, but few of us ever drive home satisfied. For me, I have come to find the existential beauty of a cold beer in the cart, set against the warm glow of some late afternoon Carolina sunshine.
Forecast is for temps soaring into the low 90s. Beauty. All the heat of summer, without yet the stickiness or rampant bugs.
If there are any good stories to bring back here on Monday in this space, I'll be happy to share. Otherwise, what happens at the National, stays at the National.