The following is a true story.
During a practice round prior to the 2000 National Association of Left-handed Golfers (NALG) tournament in Myrtle Beach, I hit a tee shot right and over the Legends Moorland 17th green. I could not find my ball and could not believe that I had hit it far enough to go into the thick brush, but apparently I had. (I discovered two days later when I played another set of tees in the tournament that the gold tees were mis-marked by 10 yards! This was before we had rangefinders.)
That day I was playing with Buck Buckner, the eventual NALG champion, and two brothers from Washington State. One of the brothers waded into the thick brush when he spotted a ball. I stuck my head in between the vines near where he was and spotted a golf club grip standing vertical. When I reached in I discovered that it was an intact club and a nice Callaway sand wedge at that.
There was no way this was your typical case of forgetting to pick up your clubs when leaving a hole as you could not have played a ball within 15 feet of that spot. I figured someone had to be quite upset and must have tossed the club into the brush. Since the wedge had a 1996 vintage shaft, I figured it might have been there for quite a while. The pro shop did not report a wedge missing that day or recently.
That's where the story begins.
After examining the club I noticed one of those little name labels on the shaft. Some of the address numbers were missing but the name and city were readable. I figured I could determine the rest of the address through an internet search upon returning home.
Sure enough, after less than five minutes I found the missing numbers and sent a letter off to the club's owner. After a return phone call, I now have the rest of the story.
The owner was playing golf at the Legends resort two weeks prior to me. The 17th hole is a devilish par 3 playing about 170 yards. Her was a 14 handicapper and was playing some of the best golf of his life. The previous day he shot 79 at Oyster Bay. Starting on the back nine on this infamous day, he was playing very well until he came to his 8th hole, the 17th at the Moorland course.
He pulled his tee shot into the bunker short and left of the green. His first attempt at a sand shot left the ball in the bunker. Being positive not to repeat the error, his next shot sent the ball flying over the green into the thick brush. He dropped a new ball where it entered the hazard-marked brush and chipped back to the green. He thought he hit a good chip only to walk up and see the ball keep rolling back into the same bunker he started in. This is the same hole that I saw one of my fellow players on a past Myrtle Beach golf trip putt the ball off the green into that bunker. This green is pretty slippery and sloped towards the bunker. Obviously, the owner wasn't very happy. In fact, he was starting to get steamed!
But it only got worse!
His next shot from the bunker, you guessed it, flew over the green again and into the woods. At this point, the steam let loose along with his sand wedge. His playing partners recall hearing the sound of a low flying helicopter followed by some rustling in the thick brush. You have to picture that the distance from the bunker to the woods has to be at least 40 yards. Not a bad toss!
His next challenge was to try to find the forsaken club. Seeing the dense brush and poison ivy, he didn't look very long and couldn't get to the clubhouse fast enough to clean up.
After receiving my letter, the owner could not believe that his club had been found. He was sure that his club would NEVER be found again. It was very deep (actually only about 15 feet) into the well-camouflaged thick swampy brush.
He vowed never to buy another sand wedge as a penalty and reminder to himself. He indicated that he never throws clubs. The frustrating chain of events just got to be too much. As it turns out, the day after I actually found his club, his wife bought him a new Cleveland sand wedge on Father's day.
After his return home, his playing partners were having a heck of a time telling their friends what transpired. Now, with the finding of the lost "helicopter", their stories will only get better. This story alone was worth the cost of sending the club back to him. (He did thank me for returning the club by sending dozen new Pro V1's.)
So now it looks like he now has two sand wedges. I am willing to bet that is one more than he will ever need.
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I confess! I am an avid golfer. I also play left-handed. Since I now manage the National Association of Left-handed Golfers website, I thought I would start a Blog...this blog! What will I have to say? Stay tuned and find out.