A friend of mine strolled over to me a few days ago and said very kindly, "I had a problem with your column last week." Having written about local golfers scoring holes-in-one this summer, I wanted to know what that problem might be. He quickly pointed out not one mistake on my part, but two. What's worse, he was right.
I hate being wrong, though I have been on that side of the ledger enough times in my life that it didn't come as a total surprise. I heard a joke the other day that will give you some insight as to my penchant for being, well, wrong.
Grandpa was celebrating his 100th birthday and everybody complimented him on how athletic and well preserved he appeared.
"Gentlemen, I will tell you the secret of my success," he cackled. "I have been in the open air day after day for some 75 years now."
The celebrants were impressed and asked how he managed to keep up his rigorous fitness routine.
"Well, you see my wife and I were married 75 years ago. On our wedding night, we made a solemn pledge. Whenever we had a fight, the one who was proven wrong would go outside and take a walk!"
The story hit home for me even though there were some differences between grandpa and me. I'm not yet 100, nor am I overly athletic looking. I certainly don't take a walk every day, but the "proven wrong" thing is pretty accurate. When my wife and I disagree, 99.9 percent of the time I am the one that is wrong. It may actually be 100 percent, but I'm thinking I was right at least once in our 31 years of marriage!
So what were the egregious mistakes I made in last week's column? Well here's what my buddy said to me.
"You said that Todd Focht scored a hole-in-one on No. 15 at Seneca Hills." I nodded and then started thinking about No. 15. It is a fairly difficult par 4 that has never been aced and isn't likely to be any time soon. Obviously I meant No. 16 though that's not the number I used.
My friend continued. "You also said that Todd's dad Rich aced the second at Mohawk Country Club." My mind started racing. "Think about it," he said. I pictured the course and thought oh no, I did it again. The second is a par 4 and it was the third hole that I should have been referring to.
Now my friend could have taken me behind the woodshed and really let me have it for making such ridiculous mistakes, but he was nice. Actually he was wondering if there was some method to my madness. Perhaps, he suggested, I did it on purpose. Now I'm wondering how I made the mistakes and I came up with some possible reasons. Let's see what "may" have happened.
My paid assistant typed the wrong numbers. This would be a very credible excuse if I actually had an assistant, let alone a paid one!
I was supplied the wrong information. Hey now, this kind of thing does happen. Can a person who gets a hole-in-one forget the hole he scored it on? Let's see. I got mine about twenty years ago. Colonial Golfers Club. 13th hole. 137 yards. Seven iron. So much for that theory.
The courses were recently redesigned and the holes were changed. Aw geez, I got nothing.
Wait a minute. My buddy said he wondered if I listed the wrong holes on purpose. Kind of like a quiz to see if my readers were paying attention. You caught me Mike. Thanks for playing along.
Truth is that I messed up. I apologize. In my defense, I do play a lot of golf (just ask the Mrs.) and it is sometimes hard to remember all the different holes that I have played. There is one hole on each and every course that I never forget. That would be the 19th.
One of the great things about playing the game of golf is that every course has a watering hole that you can go to after the round. There a cold beverage can be consumed as golfers compete with fisherman for the title of who can tell the biggest whopper. The stories are told and each shot gets embellished a little, as that fifteen-foot putt becomes a thirty-footer with a double break. It's in the 19th hole that everything golf is discussed including wondering why a golf course has 18 holes.
For those that may not know why 18 is the magic number, I can tell you that the most common explanation is not true. Supposedly a Scotsman suggested that 18 was decided on because that was how many drinks one could get from a fifth of Scotch. One drink per hole and the bottle would be gone thus golf courses had 18 holes.
Well, I'm here to dispel that myth. It can't possibly be true. If a golfer could actually drink an entire bottle while playing 18 holes, there would certainly be no need for a 19thhole.
So now I've set the record straight. I'm a little embarrassed and will be advertising soon for that assistant's position.
Al Stephenson is The A-T's golf columnist.
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