This past weekend I spent time with friends in Sisters and we had a blast: Cards Against Humanity, beer pong, the web, smoking stogies, golfing Glaze Meadow, and brew tour of Bend and Sisters. There was even a proposal thrown in, because that’s the main reason for the trip (aside from bringing old and new friends together to hopefully develop a new longstanding tradition). Everything was fantastic except for the host, one of my closest friends, is an unbelievably poor sport and whiny little pissant when things don’t go his way. This is a story all about how golf remains my favorite sport– not just because it is the most individually challenging sport to play– because it is an allegory for life and reveals the character of the people who play it.
Two friends, S and G, and I were slated to play Glaze Meadow at 7:03 AM Saturday morning. We were quite stoked and excited because this trip had been in the works since about the first round series against the Rockets and we were going to go all out in terms of activities and fun. With the day having finally arrived, we leave around 6 AM to head out to Black Butte Ranch to play. This course was amazing. Amazing aesthetics due to the Ponderosa pines, the low lying Cascades around and the monstrous houses that lay around the course. Now, S is a decent golfer and is known to exaggerate a few things because he doesn’t like to lose or be shown up. He claims to have a handicap of 17.something, but in the times I have played with him this is not the case. He has a habit of cutting a few strokes off of his score and it is something that I have noticed and have only lightly called him out on once in the 5 times I have played with him. G is an improving golfer who has cut his handicap from a 28 to a 21 since the beginning of the year, counts everything and even asks for advice on drops/penalty strokes. G knows that S has a penchant for shaving strokes and has taken the “Are you sure? I don’t think you got that… Oh well, it’s YOUR handicap man,” approach to dealing with S’s cheating. The way that S goes around talking about his game, me knowing what he does to his score and me getting irritated by it finally came to a head this past Saturday.
We start off great, I birdie the first, G pars it and S says he got a 6. S’s remark prompts an brow raise from G mouthing, “that was a 7…” and me thinking back and nodding, “you’re probably right.” We continue on and S is counting along fine. He does miss a stroke on the par-3 5th in the bunker, making a 5 instead of his announced 4, but I don’t call him on it because that’s a simple one. I know there will be a bigger, more egregious miscount coming. The 6th hole devours us, coaxing a 6 from S, a 7 from G and an 8 from me (went OB and said to hell with the stroke, I’ll punch out. Note to all, trees outnumber you… by a lot.) S calls it a 5 and I say, “nah man, that was a 6– on in three with a three putt. C’mon now.” S accepts it and agrees. We’re halfway up the 7th and we are told we are 10 minutes behind the group ahead of us and are asked to pick up the pace. So we do and it is aided by S neglecting to even FINISH the 7th hole. G finished with a 6 and I finished with 7.
G asks S what he is doing and S replies, “picking up, you heard the marshal, we’re behind.”
G: “Well, what are you going to give yourself? What stroke were you on?”
S, picking up his ball off the green by 5 yards and another 12 from the hole, “I was on 5. What did you and Clem get?” He hears 6 and 7. He then states, “I’d give myself a 7. Why go any higher than what Clem got?”
In retrospect when I heard that, I should have called him out there– that was such an insulting comment AND HE DIDN’T EVEN FINISH A HOLE WHICH IS A MASSIVE NO-NO! G shakes his head and says whatever and acquiesces to the terror that is S’s ability to be OK with blatant cheating. We finish the 9th and head to the turn and S is reading out the scores: “Clem at a 47, G is at 46 and I’m at 43.” I pull up and shake my head muttering under my breath say, “That was no 43.” G hears me and says, “Ya think? He didn’t count #1 right and he’s up to something.” While we wait to tee off 10, I recalculate his score because I was keeping track of my own AND HIS score and I show G that he actually shot a 48 (though who really knows because he didn’t actually finish the 7th).
We continue on and I’m being even more conscious of keeping S’s score. He called his score on the 10th a 5, and I said, “so that’s two 6′s and a 7 right?,” to which he agrees. It seems that gentle reminders help S, but it is really annoying that he can’t accurately keep his own score. Meandering on on our round, S is doing fine in keeping his score until we reach the par-5 15th. Here is the hole that I was anticipating, a hole where he would make an unreal claim to save face for butchering a hole. S and I are neck and neck moving up this hole as we both pull a bit left off the tee. We find our balls and I am able to punch out into a bunker and then bust a 4-iron to about 129 out, laying 3. S finds his ball, takes 3 extra strokes to get out to the fairway and take his 5th stroke that is by a tree about 20 yards from the green. Before S’s 5th stroke, I walk up to G and hold 4 fingers up and tell him, “man, he’s on his 4th right now, keep your eyes peeled and keyed in.” I finish out with a 7 on the hole, missing a bogey putt by 2 inches and my lousy round continues. S, who is on 5, finds his ball, mischips. Walks up and chunks it again, slamming his club into the ground and muttering curse words to himself. Finally S makes it to the green and two putts for a 10. Walking off the green I say to G, “that was a 10 man. Watch this, lemme ask him after we tee off and we’ll see what he says.” S asks for scores and G states frustration over his 6 that should have been a par at worst, I say that I was lucky to scrape a 7 from how far back I left myself. After we tee off and are walking off to our respective balls, I holler, “what did you get on that last one boss?,” and he replies, “I got a 7.”
That’s where I had finally had enough as I looked mouth agape to G, who is just as stunned and shaking his head. “I’m going to say something to him afterwards. This is horseshit. I’m having an absolutely terrible round and he’s over here cutting strokes like we’re not paying attention?!?” “I don’t understand why he has to lie to us. We’re here as friends having fun and he is cheating us. I don’t get it man,” G replies as we walk up the fairway. S says his 6 on the 16th is a 5, and finishes 17 and 18 with bogeys. As I putt out I say, “that was an absolutely brutal 100. Had nothing off the tee and was recovering all day.” G states, “93. I’ll take it, but I had a few I wish I could replay.” S, entering the scores on his phone, looks down and back up and announces the scores, “Clem: 100, G: 93 and I shot an 89.” Boom. From here, the conversation goes from a simple assertion that I disagree with his score to a shouting match in a span of 5 minutes.
Me: “You didn’t shoot an 89 man. There is no way you shot that.”
S: “Huh, what are you talking about?”
Me: “You heard me, you didn’t shoot an 89.”
S: “How? Tell me which hole I need to change.”
I ask him about the last par-5 we played and with confidence he states he got a 7. Unrelenting I say, “NO, I GOT A 7. You did not, you got like a 10 man.” At that point he becomes a powder-keg and is incensed. “C, where is your scorecard? What did I shoot then?” “S, I don’t have a scorecard and I didn’t keep score. And I KNOW you did not shoot an 89.” He starts counting his strokes on the 15th and I mentioned he missed one and that he is missing 3 others, his rage hits another level as he is now yelling and cursing in the parking lot of the golf course as I am telling him that he doesn’t need to be doing what he is doing.
S: “Well I shot a 103. There. Are you happy?”
Me: “No S, because you didn’t shoot a 103 either man!”
S: “This is bullshit. I’m fucking tired of always keeping score. Why don’t you fucking do it from now on?”
Me: “Because I don’t need to. It isn’t my fucking job to keep track of YOUR score and mine. Golf is about being in integrity, being honest with yourself and those you’re playing with, keeping and counting your strokes and trying to improve yourself… if you can’t do that, why the fuck are you playing the game?”
S: “Well, I’m done playing. I’m quitting playing and you two need to find a 4th for the Ram Open scramble. I’m done and over it.”
G and I: “Whoa. Whoa. Don’t take it there– you need to chill out, don’t say that shit man. You’re being a little extreme.”
The car ride back is quiet, tense and laden with a vibe of frustration. I warn the group back at the house about what went down and to anticipate some awkwardness. The day continues as S doesn’t attempt to engage me in any type of conversation or interaction. The trip becomes very cliquish as the idea for the brew tour is abandoned and only done by 6 of the 12 people. S, his girlfriend and her friends instead decide to dip out and go to boutique shop instead of hanging out with the rest of the group that included me. The others and myself decide to continue and have fun after 10 Barrel by going to Silver Moon, then wandering to Boneyard and ending the adventure at Three Creeks for flights and some pool. Unbeknownst to us, the other half of the group has returned to the house and S has proposed to his girlfriend. When the rest of us return, I walk in and learn that he has finally asked the question… I walk back out and say, “well, looks like he finally proposed.” M, a mutual friend from high school between G, S and I retorts, “well at least he waited for everyone!,” while the rest of the group is shocked and stunned– a mix of happy, frustration and irritation with S’s pettiness.
Out of the people at the trip, S knew G the longest, over 20 years. 5 of the 12 have known S since high school and he was excited to invite us on the trip to propose. A few of us feel that he purposely proposed while G and I were out because he was still butthurt. The night continued with drinking and fun, but the pall over the house was still heavy because S cooped himself up outside not having fun and complaining about the noise going on inside. As if he forgot he invited every single one of us, stated that there’d be alcohol or to bring our own, AND as if he forgot the kind of people his friends are: a group that can be boisterous because we enjoy each other’s company. He ruined a rather perfect weekend because he did not enjoy me calling him out and keeping him honest, and maybe because he isn’t as good as he thinks he is. He actually ended up shooting a 97* (with an asterisk because he didn’t finish out the 7th hole).