Monday, December 03, 2018

Ryder, Secret Ryder

Eli 17.3 and I went to a golf simulator on Sunday. There's a nice one in Grand Rapids, and while it's not like playing outdoors, it can be fun in its own way. Plus, if you hit the ball within six feet of the hole, the simulator concedes the next putt. That's the kind of leniency I can get behind.

"All right, here's what's going on today," I said, as we warmed up on the virtual driving range. "Match play for five dollars. I'm going to beat you with only a driver, a 56 degree wedge, and a putter."

Eli burst out laughing. "I could use five dollars, anyway," he said. "Deal."

After four holes, he was three-up. He got a lesson a few weeks ago, revamped his swing a bit, and he is really, really good now.

We pay for an hour, so we never even make it through the front nine.

"All right," I said. "Three down, probably three holes to play. Three holes from glory. I'm walking out with a draw."

Eli just looked at me. "You've been watching, right?"

"Just getting the driver dialed in at all distances," I said. "Here it comes."

Eli teed up his ball, took a swing--and hit it forty yards into the rough. "Oh my god, you're in my head," he said, laughing.

"Feels good in there," I said, and he laughed harder.

In crunch time, I made a sidehill, eight-foot putt to win the hole.

"Two down," I said.

Won the next hole, too, easily.

"One down," I said.

"And we're out of time," Eli said, and he was right. The hour was up.

"All right, I see what's going on," I said. "You played those last two holes so poorly, and it took so long, that there's no time left."

"Strategy," he said. "Next level."

"You can slink away with your victory of shame," I said. "Go ahead, start slinking."

"Shame? Pure triumph," he said, raising his arms.

At this point, the attendant, who has been watching us and laughing (on one else was in the building at 10 a.m.), walked up and said, "You guys go ahead and play one more hole."

"What?" Eli started laughing.

"Well, that sounded like justice," I said.

It was a par three, and I was forty yards off the green after my tee shot. Eli hadn't hit a good one, either, so I still  had a chance.

"I'm calling it," I said. "From the rough, over the trees, to within six feet."

Eli burst out laughing, and the I hit the shot. "Oh, that looks--no, no--oh my god, you did it."

Four feet. "CONCEDED", said the screen.

Eli had an eight-foot putt for the tie, but it had a nasty break. "I'm making this," he said.

"Don't feel bad," I said. "You're going to salvage a tie with a two-putt."

He missed. Amateur side of the hole.

"Now people are rushing onto the green to celebrate my Ryder Cup victory," I said. "Teammates mobbing me, people crying. It feels good."

"What win?" he asked. "We tied."

"My team was up a point going into the last match," I said. "A tie was all I needed."

"Hey!" he said. "If you're so desperate for a win that you have to make something up, it's not a victory."

"Tell that to my trophy," I said.

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