It was a fine day for a miniature golf tournament: isolated flurries, with a windchill around -25.
Golf is one of those sports that I will never be able to play, and there's no sense in telling me otherwise. For one thing, I am almost completely lacking in co-ordination: if I ever hit the damned ball off the tee, it'd be a miracle, and if the ball actually did something other than burn a few worms, well, Satan would be handing out the ice-skates. I used to add in my poor eyesight, but let's face it: my maximum drive would still be well within visual range.
But mini-golf? Hell, the first hole I ever played, I got a hole in one. Of course, it all went downhill from there, but I'm at least somewhat competent at the game. It's nice to know there are things like mini-golf and pool and darts in the sporting world: they save me from being a complete waste.
This particular tournament was put on by the Palmerston Legion, of haunted house fame, and had been on our docket since, in fact, we toured that haunted house last Hallowe'en. That shindig was so creative that we could scarcely imagine what a mini-golf course would look like.
They didn't disappoint, and boy, we weren't alone. There had to be over a hundred people there--most of the population of the town, for putt's sake! We formed a foursome with our friends Dana and Bowe and studied the hole layout. Our starting hole was #5. Due to an overflow crowd, there were 23 holes on the course. Then again, at one of them you had only to play a game of old maid: the winner got a hole in one and the losers had to count five strokes. (Oh yeah, and if you neglected to buy a drink, you had to add another five strokes. Cute.)
I started off with some decent scores, and at every hole I was marvelling at the creativity. There were little frogs on one hole (hit one, count a stroke), water hazards, shag carpet "rough", and on and on and on...At one "hole", you had to toss styrofoam-and-duct-tape "horseshoes" at a common commercial toilet: a ringer was one stroke, on the toilet was two, and so on. When you went to retrieve your "horseshoe", you were confronted with the papier-mache and God-knows-what-else construction in the toilet. There were discernable pieces of corn. Yurk.
Hole#14, "Black Beauty" was where my game started to go south. This hole started upstairs: putt the ball into a very long length of PVC pipe that carried the ball down the stairway, landing in another toilet, and shot it out on to the carpet within putting distance of the hole. Well, it took me five strokes to get the damned ball over the lip and into the pipe. No real harm done: once downstairs, I made a fifteen foot putt to salvage the hole.
But then I got into Leftie's Barn.
The instructions said you had to putt left-handed only, and if you hit a pig you had to yell "Oink! Oink!". I didn't hit any pigs...I didn't hit much of anything. That was one of the hardest holes on the course even without the extra handicap of putting with my dumb hand. Putt..putt...putt...sputter...sputter. Rack up a 27 for that hole. I do believe I had been leading amongst our foursome before that calamity. As any chance of my posting a respectable score ebbed away, I...well, I didn't stop trying, but I stopped trying to be competitive.
Eva won the game of old maid--something, believe it or not, I had never played in my life--and then it was time to go back upstairs...up ramps, I should say. That was easily a twenty-yard hole, a real monster for a mini-golf course. You had to fire the ball up one ramp, through a couple of chair legs, and then up an even longer ramp, through the A-frame of a sign on the way, and then into a numbered hole that told you how many strokes to add to your already prodigious score. Shouts of "FORE!" abounded: by then, at about four in the afternoon, it was getting pretty drunk out.
We were warned about the cigarette smoke. Palmerston hasn't gotten around to insulting its veterans by banning smoking in their hall. But nobody told me about the alcohol. There were, as I say, over a hundred people playing--probably three times what I had thought there would be. Did you know inebriated old ladies act just like inebriated young ladies? I didn't. The volume level increased until I felt like I was under siege.
Not that I'm making excuses, you understand. No, I managed a 29 on one of the last holes all by myself, noise or no noise. But by the time I got to the end of the course, I had such a headache I was thinking of getting drunk myself to ease the pain.
Final scores: Bowe, 155; Dana, 158; Eva, 185, and Ken, 187. Some guy managed a few strokes higher than I did, sparing me the ignominy of being the 'most honest man', but we were the highest scoring team, and as such were awarded prizes.
Hey, it was all in fun. And for the most part, it was fun. Towards the end, there, it was once again made clear to us why we try to avoid mob scenes...as always, it was nice to get home.