Wednesday, May 11, 2005

How I Beat an Idol

When I was a kid one of my idols was my big brother. He’s eight years older than me and when he was in high school he was a regular sports stud. Not only was he the quarterback of the football team and the catcher on the baseball team, but he also led the basketball team to become state champions. After he graduated the Baltimore Orioles drafted him in the third round, but instead of pursing a baseball career he went on to play basketball for the University of Utah on a full athletic scholarship. And as a kid I wanted to be a sports star just like him. One problem: He’s 6’4”; I’m 5’9”. Ah, fate…

He’s a good guy, my brother. Our relationship now isn’t so much of big brother – little brother, or idol and idolized, we’re really just friends. Good friends. Even though he’s in Washington and I’m in Central California, we make sure to cross paths once or twice a year; usually we meet for an NFL game – Raiders or Seahawks. Last year on one of our rendezvous we had a few hours to kill and we ended up at par 3 18-hole golf course, renting clubs and preparing to play golf together for the first time. Now, I’ve never beaten my brother in any sporting activity. But this is golf. I’d been practicing. And size doesn’t matter…

The first hole was 155-yard straight shot. Since these were rented clubs I pulled out a 7-iron and thought I’d just hit an easy one, just keep it on the fairway. Over swinging is one of my big problems and the easy-swing mentality lent itself well to my smashing my first shot within 3 feet of the cup. Oh, my big bro knew he was in trouble then.

But my bad golf tendencies emerged and the two of us mostly flounder around the course. He drove further and straighter than I but had absolutely no touch around the green, which kept me in it. After 18 holes we added up the score and what do you know -- we were tied. What are two competitive brothers to do? Well, play another 18 holes of course.

After the 14th hole of our second round I was up 6 and feeling good. Then I proceeded to 3 putt 15, 16, and score a 7 on 17 and we were tied again. On the 18th hole my brother’s drive hooked and landed within a few feet of another twosome. Neither of us had called fore and while I couldn’t see the expressions on their faces, the gestures with their fingers told us all we need to know about how they felt about the misguided shot. Well, I proceeded to slice my drive and we both figured to have a chip to the green. But as we walked down the fairway something was wrong. My brother’s ball was missing. We looked all over for it and couldn’t find it. “Those bastards took my ball,” my brother kept saying. “They took my ball!”

“You should have called ‘Fore’,” I kept replying. That and, “Lost ball, one stroke penalty.”

“It’s not lost, it was stolen,” he said. “What’s the ruling when a ball that gets swiped?”

“All I know is that it’s lost,” I said.

“I could hear them laughing as we walked up, they took the ball.”

“You should have called ‘Fore’.”

On and on we bantered while my brother frantically searched. After ten minutes he finally had to concede, the ball was gone. He took the Penalty and re-teed. He hit a nice shot to the fringe. We both chipped on. I two putted; he one putted. So he took a 5; I took a 4. And that, my friends, is how the bad golfer beat one of his childhood sports idols in a 36-hole match by one stroke.




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