I learned to love the game of golf at the tender age of nine. By the time I turned 10, I’d reached my potential. Ouch!

As young Navy brats, we’d hop aboard our Schwinns, schlep our shillelaghs out to North Island, and square off against the course at Sea ‘N Air Golf Club. In those distant days of yore, the first nine holes were all “manageable” par threes. Just our speed! My friend

Dave even managed to shoot a hole-in-one one fine day. Good for you, “Silk.” That’s one more ace than yours truly ever shot!

Many many moons later, when I’d become a member at Coronado Men’s Golf Club, my father gifted me an annual ticket. Thanks, Dad! I especially enjoyed golfing at midnight using my (ahem) glow-in-the-dark balls. The translucent balls have a small hole into which a fluorescent green glow stick is inserted. Simply snap the stick, give it a shake, and stick it in. Just take a little more club than usual, and when you hit it, it goes off like a flare!

“Once upon a midnight dreary,” one of my many errant shots (moi?) wound up lodged high up in a tall palm tree. There it was, glowing away! Since I hadn’t brought a spare, I called it a night.

I loved slipping onto the back nine around sundown, all by my lonesome (a one-some?), because once it got dark, I’d break out my glow-balls. Besides, I don’t play well with others!

One quiet evening, as I sat at the eleventh tee taking a break, taking in the twilight’s last gloaming (yes, gloaming is a word), I heard a loud sharp “snap” above me and to my left.

A split-second later, a massive branch from a huge eucalyptus tree began to break free, causing a deafening, drawn-out, crunching noise. Never before had I heard such a sick

sound. When the bough was breaking, the unholy din resembled the rumbling of rolling thunder. What a ruckus! In a flash (hello, Flash), a gargantuan limb landed a few short yards from the bench where I was sitting, hitting the ground with a tremendous thud.

What an impact! And what a close call. Too close. It wasn’t quite dark yet, so I teed up a Titleist and broke out my trusty Taylor Made “Metalwood” driver. The eleventh hole at Coronado Muni is a par-four dogleg-left, its green guarded by a dense stand of trees (not eucalypti!), over which an intrepid soul might try to reach the unseen green in one.

Tempting. But reckless.

I was game, so I took blind aim, and with a crisp, resounding, reverberating “crack”, proceeded to snap off perhaps my best drive ever, sending the stinging Titleist soaring.

Where it had landed, I did not yet know, but once I’d walked up nearer to the green, I saw my ball had come to rest five feet from the pin. I’d driven the green, leaving myself a makeable (uh-oh) putt for my first-ever eagle! Then I three-putted. Really?

Arrgh! What a bitter pill. And what a weak par. Like I said, I’d reached my potential as a 10-year-old.

No matter. I’d made my one good shot for the day, just enough to keep an avid golfer coming back for more. Why? Because long-suffering duffers are gluttons for punishment.

Thank goodness nobody else had been around to witness me three-putt from five feet!

My shameful secret was safe. Between me and the trees. Until now, that is. Oops.

Alas, after the 9/11 attacks of 2001, being out on the Coronado course in the middle of the night seemed out of the question, so it’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve swung a golf club in anger. Surprisingly, I don’t miss it...much. But enough of levity!

In the film “Caddyshack,” when Judge Smails tells Ty Webb, “...and I’m no slouch myself,” Ty replies, “Don’t sell yourself short, Judge. You’re a tremendous slouch.” Ouch! As for my own golfing prowess (or lack thereof), the word “slouch” suits me to a tee!

Be the ball, Eddie.

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