My brother Dennis called me from the airport the other day. He was traveling to Atlanta for a weekend of golf with a high school buddy.
He was checking in on me and Baby Ocho. I updated him on the latest concerns regarding the baby’s breech presentation and the potential duodenal obstruction. Dennis responded with a strange comment, “It’s like shoes on the golf bag. Just pile it on.” He told me a story to illustrate his point.
I come from a family of avid golfers, some of whom can actually play the game. I have played a dozen or so times in my life. Mostly, I enjoy driving the golf cart and reading a good book while people cursingly search for errant drives in the rough. I’m fantastic company at the 19th hole.
Now I do love watching golf, especially the Majors. There’s nothing like a Sunday nap on the couch as the Masters theme song plays soothingly, Jim Nantz cooing about the azaleas, Amen Corner, and historic Butler Cabin. It’s fascinating to watch the pros struggle in the elements at The Open, traipsing around a links course somewhere in the United Kingdom. I’m partial to Jordan Spieth, admire Bryson DeChambeau, and always root for Phil at the US Open. I would like to meet Bobby Jones in heaven one day.
Sam and I used to play golf with dear friends John and Patti Jo at our previous school’s annual fundraiser. Our foursome never threatened to take home the first place trophy. But we were heavy contenders for style points. John and Patti are both excellent golfers. When playing with us, they brought low expectations but high spirits.
So it was entirely appropriate that Dennis used a golf analogy for Baby Ocho’s situation.
Years ago, Dennis’s wife Susan was one of the chief organizers of the PGA Byron Nelson golf tournament in Dallas. She had a sweet job which came with some perks for her family. One year she arranged for Dennis to caddy in the Pro-Am, a day where individuals paying lots of money are paired with a professional for a round of golf. Dennis was excited to caddy for this event.
Unfortunately, he woke up that morning with a wicked headache. He struggled to get out of bed and drive to the course. He donned his caddy’s bib and walked out to the staging area where the amateur’s golf bags were lined up. And then he spotted it. The biggest, most overfilled golf bag he had ever seen. He just knew that would be his assigned bag. It was.
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According to the USGA, a golfer is allowed to have 14 clubs in the bag. This guy had way more and a bunch of other junk. A professional golf bag weighs 30-50 pounds. This bag felt like it weighed double that amount. To add insult to injury, the guy was a terrible golfer.
Dennis hoisted the bag on his back like a pack mule and struggled to the first tee. The Texas sun was beating down on him and the humidity was overwhelming. He serpentined all over the course chasing this guy’s ball. As his headache raged, he regretted the Bud Lights shared with friends the night before. Dennis is incredibly athletic and fit. But he began to think he might actually pass out under the weight of this ridiculous bag.
The professional’s caddy noticed him struggling. He walked up to Dennis and whispered a hot tip into his ear. The caddy told him to place the bag in the middle of the tee box, between the amateur and professional tees. Apparently, there was a cooler at each tee box earmarked for the pros. Dennis could swig some Gatorade and nibble on a sandwich while his guy figured out how to hit driver.
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The bag was still heavy and the headache still pounded but he was managing as volunteer sherpa. He focused on the next tee box. And the next cooler. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
A group traveled with each player pair, one of the perks of buying into the Pro-Am. About halfway through the course, as the sun was at its highest and Dennis’s strength at its lowest, the amateur’s wife came up to him with a strange request. Apparently, her feet were hurting. She had taken off her shoes and wondered if Dennis wouldn’t mind carrying them for her.
He quietly sighed. Smiled wearily. Said, of course, he would be glad to perform this service. He wedged the offending shoes between superfluous clubs and trudged on behind the group.
Now, this is what he wanted to say:
“Sure lady, I’d be glad to carry your nasty, sweaty shoes as you walk barefoot through the grass. I know you have more money than God but I’m already carrying a bag that weighs 100+ pounds, full of fancy clubs and your husband still couldn’t hit the side of a barn. I’m dying here in the heat if you hadn’t noticed. But what’s a pair of shoes piled on top of this heap of junk? Tell you what, why don’t you just hop on my back and I’ll give you a piggyback ride back to the clubhouse.”
Dennis’s story, told with his drawl and perfect sense of timing, made me laugh and lifted my spirits. And I appreciated the mental image of him schlepping around a golf course carrying an oversized bag and a pair of lady’s shoes. I understood the analogy perfectly.
So what if Ocho is breech? Or I need a C-section?
So what if Ocho needs abdominal surgery? Or open heart surgery?
At this point, it’s just a pair of shoes on the golf bag.