/ Stories / By Age / Broke Writer /
The PGA Championship just starting reminds me of a golf experience from the 1980s. I’d been camping and writing out of my car since early 1983. By the mid ’80s I was mixing a bit of business back in, selling art out of my car, circling around Florida in the winter season, circling back north as it warmed up. I’d had the most customers in the 1970s in NYC, but that was still a small percentage of potential NYC customers. Nobody sells to everybody. But by 1986 or so Naples FL was becoming my best customer collection since the 1970s: I hadn’t sold to every gallery, but I’d sold to dozens, I’d sold to most galleries. Some I sold to repeatedly: they sold what I’d sold. I liked Naples, I hung around, I wrote: a lot, good portions of three novels.
So: I’d camp, I’d write, I’d sell, I’d camp … living alone, art in the car, laptop in the car by the late-’80s, golf clubs in the car.
I loved Napes for more reasons than that they had galleries that bought some of what I sold. North Naples on the Tamiami Trail had a golf driving range I was addicted to, not least because the owner, often present, was gorgeous: what legs, what hips, what haunches! Great face, nice blond hair. Her kids, adult, were as gorgeous as she was, her son could have been on the cover of something. I was so smitten by her I gave her a $60 Valentine serigraph, really cute Valentine kitten.
Anyway, I’d write, I’d sell, I go to that range and hit a bucket, then another. One Sunday I’m driving up the Tamiami, gorgeous day, and there’s the range. Closed. No blond, no nobody. (Oh, I also liked the British teaching pro she kept on hand: he liked showing off bouncing golf balls with his sand wedge: he picked the range up with a bucket and a sand wedge: pop, buried ball in the air, second pop, ball into the bucket.) I parked. I selected a few clubs from my bag: 7 iron, wedge, 2 iron. I dropped them on the range’s “tee,” grabbed an empty bucket, and headed off into the boonies. There were plenty of balls on the range to be picked up, but I gathered from the woods: where the British pro, where the blond’s tractor, did not routinely go to gather: I was helping. I was helping myself to her land, and I was helping her business: recover missing balls. So, I fill the bucket, go to the tee, scatter them so I’ll be hitting from a smear of locations, hit … go fill the bucket again.
Another car pulls up, parks, gets out. Couple brings their clubs, start hitting my range balls!
I could have complained, I could have said, “The range is closed, there are no balls for rent: hit all you want, but pick up your own balls; don’t hit the ones I’ve gathered for myself!”
I go off and pick up more balls from the woods. I get back to the tee. They’ve left.
And my #2 iron is gone!
Custom made for me, a matched set: irons, 1 through 9 and wedge and sand wedge: manufactured by my friend in China, custom fit for me by my friend. Guy in Oceanside. Great guy. (Other guys have 3 through 9; I had 1 through 9. And four, not three, woods: I had a #2 wood! persimmon! Robert Vickrey’s father-in-law’s club.)
Well, I never could hit the #2 anyway, and certainly not the #1.
|Guys are out on the course. Uh oh, there’s lightning, thunder follows. Guys sprint for the turn, for the club house. They’re all cowering in the bar when they see their buddy, calmly walking down the fairway, lightning all around him: no umbrella, just holding a golf club over his head.
He finally arrives, placid, serene. “What the hell are you doing? Holding a golf club over your head?”
“This,” the guy answers, “is a #1 iron. Everyone knows, God himself can’t hit a #1 iron!”
Well, Jack Nicklaus could; but not me.
What I want to know is: at what point in the rest of his life did this moron gonef realize that my #2 iron was not his club?! Would he remember where he got it? Would he remember me? Would he ever figure out that the balls he also took were “mine”?
He never paid me for my novels either, but then no one did: except with kicks, and sabotages.
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