Hucks Go to Medinah and Kohler

Roybob’s Book on Golf: The Hucks, A Golfer’s Divine Comedy, and a Religious Philosophy of Golf

Huck Tales


Hucks Go to Medinah and Kohler

A few years ago, 2008, in celebration of my fiftieth birthday, a few of the Hucks journeyed north to play Medinah Country Club in Chicago and the courses associated with The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin (The Straits, The River, The Meadows, and The Irish). Other than me, the group included Gator, Fuji, Joe, Tequila Bill II, and Pedro.

After we flew into Chicago, Pedro went to stay with his friend who was a member of Medinah and who was arranging for us to play. The rest of us made our way to a hotel near the airport. After a great dinner at a Chicago steakhouse, we retired to our hotel courtyard, had a few drinks, and smoked a couple of gars. I equipped the boys with jumbo, sixty-four ounce flasks as mementos of the trip. Each flask held a full 1.75 liter of one’s favorite beverage. Some opted for Crown, others for vodka. Tequila Bill II, for a reason that none of us could fathom, selected Ouzo. We turned in reasonably early that evening, all a flutter about our chances of dominating Medinah the following day.

I had arranged for transportation, via a nice van, from Medinah to Kohler, but I had not arranged for transportation from the Chicago hotel to Medinah Country Club.  In the morning, before breakfast, I informed the hotel’s receptionist that we would require transportation for five men with luggage and sets of golf clubs.  I do not know who she called or what she said, but one driver with one Ford Escape showed up.  The driver took one look at us and our luggage and called his employer for a larger vehicle.  The Escape and its driver disappeared, but in a few minutes up rolled a 1995 Dodge Caravan, a thirteen-year-old vehicle that looked its age.  The five of us crammed everything we could inside the Caravan and tied everything else to a luggage rack up top.  Yellow ski rope was running everywhere.  The Caravan was so maxed out that the driver was too fearful to use the interstate.  We took the back roads to Medinah, trying not to bottom out on bumps.

So, here we were, riding up to the gatehouse at Medinah Country Club.  The only thing we were missing was a rocking chair on top.  We were like the Clampetts coming into Beverly Hills.  We were the Huckabillies from Tallahassee.  The keepers of the gate looked us over from stem to stern. We informed them that we had a tee time, and they eventually let us through.  Unashamed, our driver rode up to the bag drop and parked beside a beautiful, black, $120,000.00 Mercedes.  The bag boys were simply standing off to the side, keeping their distance.  They could not stop staring at us, our vehicle, and our luggage tied on up top.  The chief bag master, Pete, a wonderful man, began yelling at his boys. “What are you guys doing?  Let’s go!  Untie those ropes!  Get that luggage! Get those bags on carts!  Let’s go!  Let’s go!”  Pete took great care us, treating us as though we had driven up in that $120,000.00 Mercedes.

A Huck Upholding Tradition at Medina A Huck Upholding Tradition at Medina

We were enamored with Medinah – well, everybody except Peedrow. Peedrow called Medinah a goat ranch because the tee markers were not lined up straight down the fairways.  I think he was trying to cover for his poor play, and that was the worst complaint he could conjure up.  When we finished playing and came out of the clubhouse, we saw Pete waiting for us.  Pete, in an attempted to comfort us, said, “Don’t worry boys! I got you guys some more rope!”  Fortunately, our plush ten passenger van had arrived to pick us up for the trip to Kohler.

On our way up, the boys broke out their flasks.  I had planned one nice dinner, in honor of my birthday, for our first night at The American Club.  Everyone made it to dinner except Fuji. I blame Joe because he was pouring Fuji’s vodka drinks in the van.  Peedrow and I, sitting in the rear of the van, knew things were not well when Fuji, sitting in the front, opened his window for fresh air.  We began watching for signs of a big blow.  Fuji requested a pit stop after which he climbed in the back of the van and passed out.  When we arrived at The American Club, Fuji barely managed to make it in the front door and up to his room.

No one played well on the River Course at Black Wolf Run the following day.  The weather was cold and windy, and we should have requested a caddie to tell us where to hit the ball.  The course was interesting, enjoyable, and well laid, but first timers need a caddie.  I took the blame for the poor play. I had arranged for us to take free, video, golf lessons just before we played.  I could not find any other convenient time to schedule the lessons, and I did not want us to pass up free lessons.  Most of us were so depressed by the sight of our swings that we were trying to make changes during our round. Upon completion of the morning’s eighteen, Joe declared that he shot Dalmatians.  Unfortunately, I knew immediately what he meant. My score was not far from Dalmatians either.  He meant he shot 101, as in the movie, 101 Dalmatians.

The Meadows course at Black Wolf Run was unremarkable. I do, however, remember the tenth, a very tight teeing area, with trees on both sides.  I pulled my drive into the trees on the left, and we heard my ball ricochet off five trees.  A course marshal, in a nearby halfway house, came running out and announced that I now held the record.  He had heard balls hit four trees before, but not five. Somehow, my new record was of little consolation.  Four or five shots later I arrived at the green with Peedrow and Tequila Bill II.  Gator, Fuji, and Joe, who were playing behind us, drove up to the green.  They were out of whiskey.  Fuji told us about Joe finding his Native American roots, hitting a shot he referred to as a “Dancing Running Rabbit” that miraculously wound up close to the hole.  Gator, at this point, began fumbling around, checking his pockets, and looking around in his cart.  He had borrowed a pair of sunglasses from Joe and was now afraid that he had lost them.  When Gator explained to Fuji what he was looking for, Fuji inquired, “You mean those glasses on the top of your head?”  Gator replied, “Oh, thank God.”  The boys took from my flask and headed back to the fairway.

The Straits course at Whistling Straits, site of two PGA Championships, was fascinating but very intimidating. There are so many bunkers and so many places where one can be either well below or well above where one is supposed to be.  Other than the layout of the holes themselves, one of my most vivid memories, was looking up, as I was walking down the first fairway, to find Joe, about eighty yards away and fifty feet higher, trying to swing his club like a baseball bat.  His ball was about chest high on a hill. On the ninth hole, one of our caddies, who was very impressed by our flasks, told Joe to hit away.  The caddie said that it was almost impossible to hit it out of play on this hole.  Never challenge Joe!

7thWhistlingStraits

Our second eighteen that day was on the Irish course, a pleasant surprise.  We were doing well until fourteen.  Joe, in his usual booming voice, was laughingly complaining, over and over again, about his caddie not being willing to go across a big creek in order to locate Joe’s ball.  After the tenth or twelfth vocalization of his complaint, a group trying to finish up on thirteen green yelled for Joe to “shut up.”  Joe, almost finished with his flask by now, wanted to go back and fight them.  Fuji was driving Joe around in a cart and had the good sense not to take Joe back there.  When we were walking down the fairway at seventeen, a marshal drove up and informed Fuji and I that while he was glad we were having a good time, we needed to show more decorum.  Gratefully, Joe was close to the green, out of earshot of the marshal.  Otherwise, I suspect that security would have been called.  Fuji and I apologized, and we finished our round without further incident.

After our round, on our way back to The American Club, Joe noticed that somehow his flask had been dented. When he fixed it by banging it into his head, we knew for certain that Joe was in “destructo mode.” Tequila Bill II was trying to bet Joe $100.00 that he would not make it to dinner that evening.  At the first hint of that wager, we elbowed Tequila Bill II and threatened to gag him.  As I have already written, never challenge Joe.  We did not want Joe showing up for dinner that evening.

Joe and I were sharing a room, and I knew I would need to take my time getting ready for dinner.  Joe eventually sat down on his bed – a good sign.  I fumbled around some more, and Joe lay down backwards on his bed – a better sign.  Joe was out, and I tiptoed out of our room, as quietly as I possibly could, trying not to wake the drunken giant.  Dinner was peaceful that evening; all went well.  I was, however, more than a little confused and disturbed when I returned to our room and found Joe in my bed.  It was my birthday, but … . I think my phone had awakened him, and in his fuzzy state of mind he collapsed in my bed instead of his.  I was able to rouse him enough, though, so that he went to his own bed.  At some point later that night, Joe woke me up to tell me that I was snoring too loudly.  I thought to myself, “Hypocrite!,” but I apologized and explained that I was wearing two Breathe Right strips.  He said, “Well, I think we’ve got grounds for a lawsuit.”  Both of us struggled for sleep that evening, and with the morning our trip to Medinah and Kohler came to an end.

Roybob’s Book on Golf: The Hucks, A Golfer’s Divine Comedy, and a Religious Philosophy of Golf

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