Playing for Purple Socks

Toni and I were out with two larger than life Texans yesterday. I caddied for Will, an orthopedic surgeon from Austin and Toni had Rich, an Oil and Gas man now living in Northern California.

They had a fun game which was lubricated with ‘medicine’ as Will called it. I think it was 20 year old Bunnahabhain medicine. Anyway, they decided to have a match on the back nine for a pair of purple socks which Rich had taken a fancy to. As one does. Now, both being highly competitive, they had a terrific match and it was neck and neck. Until the last.

Rich hammered a drive down the middle of eighteen and taunted Will with ‘follow that!’. Unfortunately Will did not. He topped a drive about a cricket pitch length into some nasty rough, topped a wedge ten feet, repeated this shot and then hit a reasonable ‘recovery club’ but onto a steep bank alongside Rich’s drive. There was not a lot I could say to Will at this point and I think I murmured ‘it’s not over yet’. To which I got zero response. Let’s face it he’d played four and was lying none too prettily. In fact he is only able to move it forward twenty yards off the bank. Five shots. We then have no option but to hit for safety with an 8 iron. Yes we hit a safety shot! This is so out of character for me. But we did. Six shots.

In reply Rich hits a good fairway wood second but gets an awkward lie on the edge of the bunker in the middle of the 18th fairway. Toni is walking up and says ‘it’s ok we can get a stance’ to which I reply ‘can you?’ and get a slightly uneasy look from Rich. They are nevertheless both 120 yards from the green and Rich has four shots in the bank.  Will then hits a poorish 9 iron about twenty yards short of the green and leaving a treacherous seventy foot putt. He has hit seven and now looks like a man who has lost his purple socks. In fact most defeated.

But then an amazing scenario follows which makes Jean Van De Velde look like complete chicken feed. Rich’s third, where his feet are well below the ball, flies straight into a bunker 50 yards in front of the green. He then attempts a heroic shot which flies over the green and onto a bank leaving a most cute and difficult chip . He hits it and it comes back to him . He then, with massive concentration now, hits a very similar shot which  just reaches the green, but stops this time. He quickly (and I would say with more than a marginal degree of desperation) runs up the slope, but the wind is blowing and just before he gets his marker down it starts to move and rolls back. He then, looking most unsettled now, hits it to five feet. That’s seven shots.

Will hits a super putt up to four feet from off the green and knocks it in for a ‘good’ nine. He then asks, the rather bemused and fraught Rich, how many he has played. And the reality is that Rich now has a tricky five footer to win the game.

And I think the moral of the story is don’t play for purple socks.

A miraculous half. But what a fun game.

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