My company sponsored an annual event for our customers and the occasion for 2002 was a golf outing at an exclusive country club, southwest of Katy, Texas. The club, located along the drainage of Buffalo Bayou, was on the Katy Prairie and was still a haven for ducks, doves, quail and alligators! The geese, up to a million in the past, had, years ago, moved to other haunts. When the geese were there, I had hunted this area many times.
The club offered a challenging layout, with lots of water hazards and sand traps. Our customer’s executives enjoyed the opportunity for the relaxation and appreciated my company’s hospitality.
When I played golf, the low 90’s were my norm, then, in 2001, I took lessons, from a former PGA tour player and friend and was never the same. My slice took on epic proportions; my grounders were frequent, lost balls increased and, once, playing with three of my salesman, I actually threw a sand wedge into a pond. Retiring from the game (and sticking to softball) in 2004, 2002 found me hosting this golf outing.
My game and temper were under control and my score through sixteen holes was 82. Trying to focus on only the next shot, and trying to silence the little demon in my mind telling me that maybe I’d be in the low 90’s for a change, I stepped up to the tee box and looked down at the potential horrors lining the fairway. A dogleg left with a flowing creek all the way to the green; on the right, a berm and sand running sixty yards from the two hundred, yard marker and behind the berm, a seasonal pond.
I teed off on seventeen and my slice that had been in check all day, returned with a vengeance as the ball sailed over the berm and settled behind it. Maybe I won’t be in the water and can salvage something out of this mess. Luckily, since my lessons, I had become a fair player out of hazards since I was in them most of the time!
My playing partner, a close friend and an executive in one of my old accounts, had also sliced, but was in the sand on the fairway side of the berm. He jumped behind the wheel and we sped off toward our balls. He kinda’ slowed down as we approached the berm, but as we reached the top, he hit the brakes hard!
Right below us was my golf ball and right beside it was a monster, ten, foot, alligator! The noise of the cart, or the ball hitting it, had awakened the beast and it looked up towards the cart. It wasn’t more that ten feet from me as my friend said “Wow” and quickly backed the cart down off of the berm. He inquired, “ Will you play that ball or drop over by mine, Hahaha?”
Fading on the last two holes, I ended the round with a 97, better by ten strokes than usual, but I told my partner, “The ‘gator cured my slice!”