by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
September 16, 2004
JUST DON'T HIT IT THERE!
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Over the past few years, I've avoided golf because of one particular incident from my past. It has haunted me well into adulthood and has prevented me from picking up a golf club for over 28 years.
I was nine years old, growing up in Muncie, Indiana. I had watched golf on tv and had even watched my parents golf. So I took one of my dad's clubs and a few regulation golf balls and decided to "give it a whack."
"There's nothing to it," I told my three friends, Chris, Ian, and Eric, as we prepared to hit some golf balls in the backyard. Ian and Chris were brothers and lived behind me; Eric lived down the street.
We lined up at one end of the backyard, confident that we would be clearing 200 yard drives. Never mind that the backyard was only 75 feet long, there were trees everywhere, and we had arms like sticks.
I planted my feet, bent my knees, wiggled my butt, and held the club just like I had seen on tv. I swung the club back and brought it streaking through the air, exactly like the pros. There was a strong, satisfying THWACK as the club connected with the ball. The ball soared eight feet into the air and traveled an amazing 90 feet into the neighbor's yard. My three friends laughed.
"Shut up! At least it went straight."
Then I hit three or four plastic whiffle golf balls -- the kind that nine-year-olds should be using when playing in the backyard.
"Okay, now hit 'em back," Chris said.
"Get out of the way first." It was getting dark, so we had to hurry. We walked down to the other end of the yard, but since young boys are lazy, they stopped about two-thirds of the way.
"Move!" I shouted as I teed up the first ball. Given my previous straight shots, the three boys moved aside a few feet and waited for me to whack the balls straight back down the fairway.
I went through the same motions again. I planted my feet, bent my knees, wiggled my butt, and held the club just like before. But this time, I was determined to hit the ball farther than before, putting an end to my friends' teasing about my weak golf swing. I swung way back, and brought it streaking around to smash the ball into next week.
At this point of the story, I'm reminded of Murphy's Law: "anything that can go wrong, WILL go wrong." There is also a golf corollary: "Anything that should not be struck by a golf ball, WILL be struck by a golf ball."
At age nine, despite only having had a fourth grade education, that very thought leapt into my mind as the ball rocketed off the face of the club at 8,000 miles an hour and nailed Chris right in the privates.
"I'm in trouble now," I thought.
Chris screamed as only a boy hit in the privates with a golf ball can scream, grabbed the area in question, and dropped to his knees in the worst pain he had ever known.
I ran over to see if he was okay. As he writhed on the ground in agony, the three of us watched and did the only thing we could do. We burst out laughing.
Chris staggered to his feet, grabbed my golf club, and started chasing me around the yard. Since I was a year older, I could run faster. Plus I had the added advantage of having not been hit in the privates with a golf ball, so I was able to stay out of reach.
Chris' mother heard his screams of pain and rage and came out to investigate. She could only imagine what had happened as she saw Chris, tears streaming down his face and a look of murderous rage, chasing me with a golf club, while Ian and Eric rolled on the ground, laughing.
Thankfully, Chris was rational enough to stop chasing me when his mother yelled at him. Between sobs, he explained the events that had transpired. Ian had to translate, since she couldn't understand him.
I apologized to Chris again, and he shuffled slowly home to recuperate. And I vowed to never hit a golf ball directly at a person ever again.
Unless I knew I could make another brilliant shot like that.