There comes a time in a Minnesota man’s life when he gets tired of driving to work on something that more closely resembles a luge track than any sort of roadway infrastructure and he starts seeing visions of Mr. Tumnus scampering through the eternal winter snow. This sort of mid-winter crisis occurs about the same time every February. Even cutting across the lake to save ten minutes of driving time loses its exhilarating edge. It is at this time that the Minnesota man must escape the bonds of sub-zero normalcy and, with The Queen Mother’s permission, take part in a ceremonious man-ritual known as “The Golf Trip.”
For those unfamiliar, The Golf Trip is a time set aside whereon a group of friends seek warmer climes and do nothing but play golf, pop Advil, and consume irrational amounts of red meat, as there are no primary spousal sources of authority about to chide one into acting responsibly and wasting time on things like hygiene or vegetables. Sometimes, if there is time left over, sleep may occur.
It is this very activity that captured my attention this week as Player 2 and I traveled to Orlando, Florida in search of birdies and eagles, finding instead any number of age-indicating surrogates such as rashes, blisters, and the inability to don one’s socks before loosening up. Players 3 and 4 were conspicuously absent on this trip, as they foolishly chose to focus instead on domestic issues such as employment and grocery acquisition, which is too bad because it turns out there is much adventure to be had within the temperate confines of Greater Central Florida.
Fore example, it was on the first hole of the first round that I stumbled upon a loaded Glock .38 handgun complete with copper plated hollow-point bullets. This set the tone for the entire trip as from then on there would be no cheating except by me, and we had no difficulty being asked to play through by other groups once our possession was made public. Unfortunately, we could come up with no scenarios wherein the location of said weapon would be considered innocent and/or legal and, wanting to offer no explanations at the airport upon our return, we decided to turn it in to the clubhouse. The only thing larger than the pro’s eyes that afternoon was my score. And to make a long story short, I am no longer allowed within ½ mile of Black Bear Golf Club in Eustis.
But that was not the end of our troubles that day. On the twelfth hole, Player 2 hit his drive out of bounds, earning the temporary nickname, O.B.-Wan Kenobi. Upon returning to the cart after a short Titleist search and rescue operation in the Florida brush, he suddenly grabbed at a somewhat sensitive R-rated zone and started screaming like Steven Tyler singing Dream On. After several inquiries and strained monosyllabic responses, I was able to piece together that a bee had taken up residence in his shorts and, feeling trapped by the exorbitant mortgage payments, had stung him upon a rather delicate nether region. Friendships having their limits and all, I declined to inspect the injury. Regrettably, the pain was such that Player 2 sought to inspect the wound himself on the 13th tee, giving new meaning to the term ‘club member.’ And to make another long story short, Player 2 is no longer allowed within a ½ mile of Black Bear Golf Club in Eustis.
The second day was less eventful as we played a Johnny Miller-designed course called Harmony Golf Preserve. It didn’t take us long to determine that Johnny Miller was a heartless bastard, as the greens at Harmony were so wicked we referred to them as Elphaba. A few phone calls from the local sheriff made the day complete and being paired with a one-eyed Icelander helped us learn useful golf phrases like “Dang það!” and “Ég er svo hálfviti!”
Day three found us at Royal St. Cloud Golf Club where we were paired with an Englishman and the only Scot who can’t play golf. His swing made Charles Barkley’s look like Freddie Couples’ on tranquilizers. Their accents were thicker than Hillary Clinton’s ankles, but I could understand when they started calling me Jesus after I duffed a shot that skipped all the way across a pond and landed safely on the other side.
I then personally went the extra mile in improving international relations on the fourth hole when I somehow inadvertently tread upon a hill of fire ants. I was stepping up to the tee when I felt a pin prick on my leg. I brushed at it and stood over my ball, feeling another, then another. Looking down to the source, I noticed that my right sock was actually moving and seemed to be ascending my leg. Realizing what was happening, I wasted no time in screaming like a little girl. I immediately went into Soul Train mode, dancing around and slamming my foot into the ground which (who knew?) in fire ant language means “Ride ‘im boys! We got a bucker!” I was soon stripping off my shoes and socks and slapping at my legs like a cast member on Hee Haw—all to the delight and hearty guffaws of my new incomprehensible UK ‘friends’. Ha ha freaking ha! Oh well. A dozen fire ant bites is about the only way I will ever be a scratch golfer.
After the round we used the club shower to clean off our respective souvenir insect pustules, then headed to the airport where we flew back to drive the luge track home.
And here’s a tip should you be looking to do one of these trips yourself in the future: DO NOT come back with a tan when your wife has not left the house in three days due to the minus infinity wind chill. You might just find yourself with a swift kick in the bee sting.