Proprietor Note: To avoid confusion on this very special Great Baseball Road Trip week, the use of the royal “we” will temporarily be suspended in favor of the more controversial “I” to describe “me” or “myself.” Those who find this unusually jarring can probably paste the body of the text into a different program and execute a search/replace.
I am not a good golfer. I am not the world's worst golfer. I am likely, on a given day on a reasonable course, to shoot somewhere around 95 for 18 holes. Any single club I hit is bound to desert me or return to me at any given moment, without any rhyme or reason discernable to me (except for the 5-wood. That's the X-factor, and that's almost always golden). As the Great Baseball Road Trip ambled into its fourth day Thursday, Rocket and I decided that 9 holes of golf -- in the sweltering mid-day Greensboro, N.C. heat, with rented clubs, on a course that required exactly 14 American dollars to play 9 and rent said clubs -- was the best way to spend a couple of hours. P-Money, our non-golfing partner in crime on this trip, graciously decided to walk along with us.
Having played only a handful of rounds this year that weren't in some sort of scramble/best-ball format, I had yet to make a birdie by myself for the entirety of 2011. That didn't figure to change in Greensboro. But this is why golf is such a strange game. Playing with unfamiliar clubs, I not only birdied the Par-4 sixth hole -- landing my second shot a foot from the cup on the fly, and having it roll about six feet away -- but followed with another birdie on the Par-4 seventh. Please understand this is not bragging. It is pure confusion. I finished with a 43 (Rocket's score is being redacted to protect the innocent). How is it that I cannot make a birdie all year with clubs I've played with for about a decade, but I can make two of them in nine holes with clubs (and a putter) I've never used in my life? Do I need new clubs? Is my game so bad that swinging different clubs actually improves my swing? The best part is that on the first birdie, I asked P-Money whether I should hit an 8-iron or 9-iron on my approach, which was about 130 yards out. Normally I would probably hit a 9, but he said 8. Keep in mind, P-Money is not a golfer. I think he has played once in his life. He does not know about golf. But I trusted him, and the stupid ball almost went in the hole. I will never understand golf.
Side note: Rocket almost killed a plethora of maintenance workers when his tee shot on hole 1 sliced angrily toward their shed and struck it quite noisily. One of them came driving toward us right after that, and we thought we were going to get chewed out for the errant shot. Instead, in a thick Southern accent, he said: "That was awesome! That made my day."
In any event, other highlights of the day included Rocket indulging in one of his greatest pleasures in life: an old-fashioned straight-razor shave at a barber shop. P-Money and I had no idea this could take more than an hour and would involve several incarnations of salves, balms, ointments, towels and whatnot. There was legitimate concern that while the barber was hacking and rubbing his way through a forest of facial hair, we all might miss the start of the night's main event: Winston-Salem vs. Kingston in a high-Class A game. By the way, we have determined that on this trip we are seeing four levels of minor league baseball: low-A, high-A, Class AA and Class AAA. This was done by accident, but it does bring a nice symmetry and as much sense of purpose as is possible to a trip across the North Carolina swampy heat to watch minor league baseball.
I should mention the Winston-Salem ballpark (BB&T) is excellent. It's a jewel of a minor league park, with a walkable concourse offering views of the field, quality concessions and a lovable mascot named Dash. Strangely enough, tweets revealed that Twitter pal Will Brinson was also at the very same minor league game. I can only imagine that he did not get his picture taken with Dash, as P-Money and Rocket (blue-headed) did.