Billy Reed’s Man Cave
I walked into the men’s grill at a local country club recently and ran smack into my old pal Freddie Footjoy. You may think you don’t know Freddie, but you do. Every club has a guy or two like him.
Freddie has little use for people who think golf is a game to be played for the fun of it. To him, golf is as serious as brain surgery. He hates to play with guys like me because we are not serious enough and hit way too many ugly shots.
Even on days when the temperature is in the 90s, Freddie would not dream of playing in shorts. He wears long pants because that’s how they do it on the PGA Tour. Nobody ever saw Arnold Palmer’s legs, and, by heaven, nobody will ever see Freddie’s.
Freddie’s shirts and trousers are always perfectly matched with one of the 100 or so pair of shoes he owns. Give Freddie a lavender shirt and he will have a pair of lavender shoes. After all, you can never tell when a photographer from Golf Digest might be lurking in the bushes.
Naturally, he has all the latest equipment. His driver has a head the size of a cabbage. His putter looks as if it was designed by NASA. His golf bag has his name stitched up the side. He loves new technology in golf clubs. If they ever make clubs laced with plutonium, Freddie will be the first to have them.
It isn’t fun to play with Freddie. When he hits a good shot, he just shrugs because, well, that’s what he’s supposed to do. A bad shot – which more than likely would be a good shot for players like me – wrinkles his countenance in anguish and despair, sort of like what you see on the faces of people suffering from kidney stones.
He looks away when a guy like me hits, as if the ugliness is too much to bear. You know what he’s thinking: “Why me, God?” If you happen to make a good shot or a long putt, he will acknowledge it for the lucky freak of nature that it is.
Afterward, in the grill, Freddie will go over his round, shot by shot, for anybody willing to listen. He wants you to know that he is a dogged victim of inexorable fate, to use a term coined by the great golf writer Dan Jenkins. His 78 could easily have been a 72. He would bore the feathers off a chicken.
I stayed in Freddie’s audience as long as I could. Then I eased way in search of somebody who believed in mulligans, gimmes, and Bermuda shorts.