You’ll Never Get Better Unless You Throw It

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

Huck Tales

“You’ll Never Get Better Unless You Throw It”

“You’ll never get better unless you throw it” — words of wisdom spoken by Joe, one of the strongest club throwers I know. For a while, Joe was breaking about a lob wedge a week. One of my neighbors is a well known golf technician. He once told me that repairing Joe’s broken clubs had enabled him to add a mother-in-law suite to his home. Though Joe has since been as low as a zero handicap, when he first started playing with the group, he was a fourteen. He could hit the ball forever, but he was directionally challenged. As his long game improved, his wedges often let him down. Frequently, on par fours, he would find himself within a hundred yards of the green after his tee shot and end up with double bogey. We would tell him, “Nice drive Joe.” Joe has numerous throws and has even brought blood, his own, on a couple of occasions. Once, on Golden Eagle’s ninth, he broke a club over his leg and cut up his thigh.

On another occasion, on Golden Eagle’s fifteenth, Joe felt compelled to show Fuji how to break a club. Fuji had chilly whomped his first chip shot into the creek which runs just in front of a stone wall surrounding a large part of the green. Fuji walked to the creek, retrieved his ball, took a drop, and proceeded to chilly whomp his ball yet again into the creek. At this point, Fuji threw his club at the stone wall, but the club hit the wall and bounced back over the creek. So, Fuji picked up the club and threw it again. The club still did not break. Joe said, “Give me that club. I’ll show you how to break it.” Joe took the club and broke it over his thigh. I know; one would think that he would have learned from the previous incident. When Joe broke Fuji’s club over his thigh, the break caused a nice gash in his right hand. Joe, we have discovered, is a bit of a bleeder. As he was trying to putt out on the fifteenth, blood was dripping down from his hand onto his ball, just like water drips off one’s hat in rain.

Joe’s strongest throw occurred on Golden Eagle’s fifth hole. By his own admission, Joe’s bunker play is not his forte. He found himself in a greenside bunker and, not unpredictably, sailed the sand shot over the green and into the woods. With all of his might, which, as a former Army Ranger and Army football lineman, is substantial, Joe let the club fly. He was standing on the upward slope of the bunker, and the club followed the slope straight up into the air. About 150 feet up into the air, the club hit a branch on a tall pine and broke. One part of the shaft, with grip affixed, went flying off into the woods, and the other part of the shaft, still attached to the head, lodged itself in the tree. Despite efforts at retrieval, the clubhead never came down. I have never seen a higher throw.

Ricky Bobby is one of the best club tossers I have ever seen. His height and distance are consistently strong. He never endangers anyone, always throwing away from the crowd, and he can stick his landings on a regular basis. He seldom breaks the clubs, and he gets over his angry outbursts in seconds. Many of the Hucks have marveled at Rick’s throwing prowess and finesse. On a day when Ricky had been able to practice his throwing skills rather frequently, our foursome arrived on Golden Eagle’s tenth hole. When Ricky hit his second shot into the bunker, he let loose his club on a line with his cart. To the group’s amazement, the club bounced over the cart. Not a ding or ting was heard. I exclaimed to my partner, “Look Fuji! He’s bouncing them over carts now!”

Another member of the Hucks, Doc, has had some interesting throwing experiences. On the fourteenth at Golden Eagle, Doc suffered from “sculliosis.” He sculled a chip shot past the flag and over the green. He then sculled his second chip shot past the flag and back over the green to where he first began. At that point, an unsightly striptease began. Doc, first, threw his wedge on the ground. He then removed his glove and threw it at the wedge. Next, he removed his hat and threw it at the wedge. He then took off his shirt and threw it at the wedge. He then removed his shoes and threw them across the cart path and into the woods. Gator was playing with Doc that day. Always one to encourage foolish display, Gator said, “Don’t stop now!” So, Doc removed his shorts and threw them at his wedge. Doc finished out the hole in his boxers. He walked back to his cart, sat down, and requested to be driven to his car.

On another occasion, when he was playing the eighteenth hole, Doc launched a hosel rocket into the water. When he threw his club in disgust, his release was a little early, and the club also flew into the water. Without missing a beat, Doc walked into the water after his club. When the water reached shoulder height and tees began floating up out of his pockets, Doc began trying to wave the club towards him in the water. Unfortunately, a full bodily immersion was required for the extraction.

Peedrow has never been a danger to anyone else and quickly recovers from his episodes, but I am happy to report that he is learning to handle his disappointments with milder manners. Formerly, he would lose what the Greeks called sophrosuné, his balance or self-control, the quality that Achilles lacks at the beginning of the Iliad. Peedrow acquired a reputation for volatile eruptions and costly club damage soon after joining the group, and he makes porpoise noises when he becomes angry. On the first tee, one day, he hooked his drive into the practice range on the left. He snapped his driver into two pieces and began talking to the dolphins. He hit a provisional ball with his three-metal. The provisional was not any better than the first drive, and Peedrow proceeded to snap his three-metal into two pieces. So, on the first tee, Peedrow has already taken his driver and three-metal out of play.

Peedrow’s handicap, with the Hucks, has generally ranged from a zero to a three, but Peedrow’s game, particularly his chipping, has deteriorated beyond anyone’s comfort level. In the context of his chipping, Peedrow is responsible for one of the most impressive club breaks I have ever witnessed. Angered over a chunky chip to Golden Eagle’s fifteenth green, Peedrow threw his sand wedge into the rock wall located just over a creek and just below the green. The wedge broke in three different places: underneath the grip, about half way down the shaft, and where the shaft and head were joined. Three breaks in one throw – that is some good action.

In accord with the deterioration of his game, Peedrow’s handicap has, on occasion, been as high as seven. When he reached the level of a seven, Ricky Bobby informed Peedrow that they were now of equal ability. Peedrow could not resist the challenge, and a match was arranged. When Ricky Bobby prevailed, Peedrow drove home, took his clubs out of the back of his car, threw them up into the attic, and did not play for a month.

A Huck whom we shall call “Big Spoon,” is equally notorious for his explosions on the course. Big Spoon has no sense of what Castiglione, in his Book of the Courtier (1528), referred to as sprezzatura, an ability to handle difficulties with graceful ease. I have seen Big Spoon kick out cart windows, knock off hub caps, and bust up the tops of sprinklers. One day, after some poor putting on the seventh hole, he tied his putter behind his golf cart and drug it around behind him for the rest of the day. He was like Achilles taking his wrath out on Hektor. On another day, after a bad hole, Big Spoon purposely ran his cart into a stop sign. The sign did not move, so he backed up and hit it again – this time with more satisfying results. On another day, when I was driving him around the course (I was too smart to let him drive), he hit a bad shot, became angry, and began throwing his clubs at the cart. Fortunately, I was not in the cart, but Big Spoon did manage to break the clasp on my bag strap. He still owes me a bag strap!

On another occasion, Big Spoon took seven clubs out of his bag to go play a chip shot on Golden Eagle’s seventeenth hole. After a lot of deliberation and club switching, he “bladed” the ball over the green and into the water. At that point, he began to throw the seven clubs, one at a time, at the cart some thirty yards away. Other members of his foursome could not help laughing, not because he sent the ball into the water, not because he was so angry, but because he never hit the cart with a single one of those seven clubs.

On the ninth hole at Rocky Bayou in Niceville, Florida, Big Spoon left his second shot short of a severely sloped uphill green. He pulled out his brand new Two-Ball Odyssey putter and headed for his ball. I would have hit a flop shot or, possibly, a chip-and-run; but, for some reason, Big Spoon decided to putt the ball. He said, later, that he was trying to avoid a chilly-hack. Predictably, he left the putt way short. The ball just made the green, and it was a long way from the hole. Big Spoon took a full body turn, like an obese Greek athlete throwing a discus, and launched the innocent Odyssey Two-Ball putter into the middle of a lake about thirty yards in front of the green. His son, whom we call “Tea Spoon,” won a tournament at Rocky Bayou a couple of months later. I told Big Spoon, who was out of town at the time, that the Lady of the Lake rose up on the ninth hole and gave his son a gleaming Odyssey Two-Ball, saying, “With this putter, you shall rule.” Fortunately, Big Spoon does not have a problem procuring additional clubs.

A Huck we call “Scratch” (because of his handicap) has thrown clubs before, but his club throwing is not as interesting as some other issues. On one occasion, about an hour after playing, a friend received a call from Scratch’s wife. She was deeply concerned because Scratch was outside chopping up his clubs with an axe. The clubs were still in Scratch’s golf bag when the chopping began. On another occasion, Scratch slammed one of Golden Eagle’s patio chairs into a brick corner post. Sensitive group that we are, the Hucks saved a piece of the chair and hung it up on the patio as a memento of the occasion. After that incident, Scratch had to take a little hiatus from the group. He also had to buy the Club a new patio chair. About six months later, after some anger management therapy, we let him come back. I am delighted to report that he has been a better Scratch because of it.

Yet another Huck known as “Rain Man” made a particularly humorous spectacle of himself on Golden Eagle’s sixteenth. After his second shot went awry, he threw his club. Then he went over to his cart, picked out the other thirteen clubs in his bag, one by one, and threw them all in different directions. There was a slight delay in play as Rain Man gathered himself and his clubs.

At the insistence of my fellow Hucks, I must confess my own sins. I had been playing poorly for several weeks, and during one round, on Golden Eagle’s fourteenth, I hit yet another weak fade off towards the woods. Although in my youth I had hurled and slammed a few clubs, none of the Hucks had ever seen me throw a club before. I was suppressing a lot of frustration, and it reached an explosion point. I threw my driver toward the creek about a hundred yards in front the tee. While the club was still in the air, I took off running after it. When I arrived at its landing point, I picked it up and threw it a second time. I renewed my pursuit. By this time, I was on the creek’s edge. I heard a Huck known as “Gator,” still up at the tee, waiting to hit his own ball, say, “Throw it again, Roy; throw it again.” So, again I threw. In the slick mud next to the creek, I went down to one knee, and my throw barely cleared the creek. At that point, I became more enraged about not being able to throw the club worth a damn, but I was not going to jump the creek and attempt another throw. I was too exhausted.

I do not know that it will make anyone a better golfer, but throwing a club certainly does feel therapeutic at times. God knows, golfers could use a little therapy once in a while.

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

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