Cup Two Five: Hysterically Historical
They came from everywhere, those 12 heroes. It was a quest, accomplished 24 times hence, but never like this. Their destination combined Augusta, Valhalla, and nirvana. There were no ruby slippers nor yellow-bricked roads, but tennis shoes, flip-flops, and dusty North Carolina backroads were no deterrent. The 12 disciples, and they had no idea that in four days they would discover their putting Jesus, traversed their own paths for their own version of The Stand.
A couple from the easternmost tinges of the Cup radar set a fiery pace. Two followed, as if Noah himself commanded it, stopping only for the golden brown batter that once heated and consumed wreaked havoc as it greeted intestines large and small.
To the westernmost outpost, a wee car loaded with enough pig to drop the Big Bad Wolf headed down 220 south, waving to a man they call Blundo once crossing the Greensboro line. This Blundo fellow carried a presence, despite running low on cell phone data and having a credenza hanging out of his car trunk.
A father/son and brother combo soon heated tires, eight in all not counting spares, and made south to the promised land of pine trees and old white guys. Pops had bored the son to slumber by the time 288 became 95, and the brothers argued which would win the beloved Cup, never accounting that Neither was the winning bet. The final cars set forth loaded with hummus and twigs and enough greens to make it a 50/50 proposition that if they had been pulled for speeding, a marijuana possession charge was next.
It began at a ratchet ramshackle nestled off a lonely stretch of US1, the main road nary a bullet-hook four-iron from the practice "range," called Hyland Hills. Pleasant surprises and blue-jeans-as-driving-pants begat pithy signs that inspired you by reminding you that you could be working.
The author remembers exactly zero of the shots hit that day, a brisket-induced Blundoian Fog that is yet to lift. But he does recall that great American pastime. That sport that engulfs baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet all into one 10-inch diameter orb. They call a spring meadow beautiful. Cashmere luxurious. Lightning energetic. But nothing, and we mean nothing, can stand the test of time like the past time of these brave warriors. This game was only interrupted by a small cheer that emitted from Boxcar's boxy car. A love seat had been sold. As for the game, it tested the mettle of even the people who know what the word mettle means:
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Oh, the golf. The competition was competitive among the competing competitors, despite the lack of warm ups or actual golf holes. Eventually the 12 Wise Men settled on golf's version of the whiffle ball ghost runner for all putts. Dormie was a little like that girl in college: brutal negativity early in the evening, but by the eighth beer she looked much better than you remember. The new format was a positive, even if The Dude IS NOT GETTING OUT OF HIS CART TO CHANGE PARTNERS. The weather held, and we had a blast. Meanwhile, Goober sold a lamp.
By the end of Day One somebody led, somebody was in sixth, and there was a decision to be made. Bowling. What did it mean to the group of marauders? Well, it means this:
And yet, with so much positivity flowing, a sullen yet unspoken bond hovered, striking each hero by the heart and by the gut. It was the realization that Day One was over, and real life was One Day closer. This horrifying fact kept everyone awake until all hours of the night. Everyone except Razz, that is. His blood pulsed with the sugar of 439 Fla-Vo-Ices and the reality that "my God I'm in contention to win this thing, if I can figure out what game we're playing."
Day Two belonged to the Round Tables. The big breakfast club, which for Roger is a full cup of cottage cheese, met to discuss politics, dijon mustard, and the average rainfall of the Amazon Basin. This occurred at "Pine Needles," which we discovered is Hungarian for "the sausage gravy is at eye level." Pappy moved a love-seat/recliner combo.
I don't have to recount the golf, because I was not in your group and you don't care about my game. But it was a lot of fun. Except that third hole. That damned thing is 120 yards of hell. Paul Azinger would call it utterly diabolical, and I would not disagree, though I would still give him a hard time for using an idiotic word to describe a golf hole.
There are few traditions more grand than someone ordering a bad lunch at the Friday Round Table. This began, I believe, with Duncan, who on a 95-degree day with 95% humidity (wind chill factor was 94 degrees), ordered meatloaf. The rock artist would've been a better choice, but Duncan, uh, gutted it out. Bart raised his hand this year all Arnold Horshack-like. (Google it, young guys!) He went with Fish & Chips, a great call since the golf courses of central North Carolina are renowned for fresh caught gamefish. As Bart washed down the first (and perhaps only) bite, Boxcar hit his desk quota by selling four to a local IT firm who just signed a contract with Wells Fargo Bank. This was impressive, considering Boxcar had boB screaming "Nancy" in his ear.
After a midday commercial break in which Tim tried to sell each of the other 11 competitors "the perfect couch for a nap," the group amassed again at Pine Needles for an idea WAY ahead of its time. In fact, I'm shocked this has never been brought up or considered before. A twilight captain's choice round. It lived up to billing, and then some.
It didn't matter if the soles of Roger's shoes were baked off or not because he was walking three inches off the ground. Razz was in government paperwork heaven, pencil-whipping score cards like a rented mule.
Roost and Lindy simply smiled. They'd seen the movie. The official result was a 58, though Bart added it up to 56 and Rich tallied 50 government-issued slashes.
Whatever, it was a magical round.
And then there was Saturday, when champions are made. Or something like that. The summary is that you score the most number of points during Stableford, so you play that round well and you can win. You play poorly, and you don't get on TV. Trey shocked everyone. After playing five very good rounds, he played a very good round and stood on the precipice of history with the last group on the tee box. Goob also continued his strong play, selling a dining room set to a lonely housewife during the round.
Scott stood on the 18th tee, needing only a bogey to win and defend his title. Maybe a par. We're not sure. But we are sure he did not need to hit his tee ball in the water. Of course, he hit the ball in the water--and since we stopped playing beer captain's choice five or six years ago he couldn't go into his pocket for a mully.
Now, Scott did not know he needed a bogey. Or par. So you cannot say the pressure got to him. He did not know he was in first, because we don't have electronic scoring, and if you look closely you can see Kevin keeps score on whatever piece of paper is handy at the moment. But we all know if Scott had known, he would've piped his drive into the middle of the fairway, and promptly fallen into the water on his own accord. While he would've needed a new cell phone, Scott would've recorded the wettest par in Cup history.
Damn shame we were deprived of that because with absolutely no pressure on him, he rolled his drive into the lake.
But this isn't about Scott hitting his drive on the 18th hole in a tournament he was leading into the lake. Not at all. It's about Trey's outstanding play all week. We all got to watch him play bombs away on the tee, and play patty-cake on the greens. I have no idea what that means.
But this isn't about Scott hitting his drive on the 18th hole in a tournament he was leading into the lake nor is it about Trey's outstanding play all week. It's about a wonderfully fun group of guys and five days we all look forward to seeing pop up on the calendar.
I don't want to get all sappy, but if you think about it, if you think about the golf, the food, the extracirriculars and the camaraderie, you will agree that next June cannot come soon enough. My best to you and your families.