Did You See My Ball?

Short Story Part II

“Na,” Tyler said. “I’ve dealt with guys like Jason and Zach most of my life. I’m winning. As long as I can keep up with my ball, I doubt I will have anything to worry about. My experience says these guys will quit before we start the back nine and then I’m not the one who ditched them.”

“OK,” I said, “You are the one who has to deal with them. I don’t like it when they act like jerks when I know they can be better.”

“Don’t worry Ray. It will be fine.” From there, we walked up the the green. Ray, Zach, and Jason all hit par on the second hole. I hit a birdie. I can’t hit long but one of the best par 3 players around. That made Tyler two under par, Zach was still even, Jason was one over, and I was three over.

“See,” said Tyler. “You aren’t that bad, you hit a birdie the second hole.”

“Yeah, after doubling par on the first hole. I can’t hit long. When I get within a hundred yards of the hole, I play pretty well, but when I need to hit 300 yards, if I do half that I am doing well. I will never be any good if I can’t hit even close to a long ball.”

“Are you looking to go pro or something?”

“No, and that is a good thing for obvious reasons. I would just like to be competitive when I’m out playing with my friends.”

“Well Ray, it seems to me you beat those guys out at several other things.”

Each shot I stood on the tee-box when he made his tee-shot. He didn’t ask again if anyone knew where his ball went. After he hit the ball, he would look at me and I would nod that I knew where his ball was. After I made my shot, we were down the fairway, usually to my next shot and then his.

By the time we reached the sixth green, Tyler was at three under par. Zach and Jason had traded places. Jason was even and Zach was one over. As for me, well, as I expected, eight over. But, I am enjoying getting to know my new friend Tyler.

“Ray, I don’t get it, you can’t hit a long ball but you hardly miss a putt,” said Zach. “How do you do that.”

“Well Zach, drive for show, put for dough.”

“Yeah, well, you don’t get any dough because you can’t put on any kind of show.”

“True, but I never have to worry about having a scramble teal to play on. You always want me on your team because you can’t putt, at all.”

“Well,” said Tyler, “If you’re ready to wind in those scrambles Ray, you have another choice.”

“Oh really,” said Ray.

“Ray do you mean you would bail on Jason and me?” said Zach.

“To paraphrase the movie, The Secret of My Success, friendship is friendship but winning is winning,” said Ray.

Tyler started laughing as Zach sulked away and Jason smiled and shook his head at his friend.

We made it back to the club house in time for lunch. After nine holes the tension level increased. Things didn’t improve any as we ate. Zach and Jason ate like they hadn’t eaten in a week. They excused themselves saying, “We’ll see you out there.”

In the meantime, Tyler and I took our time and enjoyed our lunch. When we finished, we went back out but Zach and Jason were no where to be seen. “Their cart is gone too.” I looked out and saw Jason’s truck in the parking lot. “I guess they decided to go forward without us.

“That is what I was talking about earlier. I would have been shocked had they been here. I don’t think Zach can deal with losing to a blind guy.”

“You aren’t blind Tyler.”

“Closer than you think. Like I told you, I’m a type 1 diabetic. I don’t drive, well at least not a car. My wife dropped me off this morning. When I can play she always does. And, when we get to about the 16th hole I will call her and she will come back and pick me up.

“Slowly, my vision is going away. I almost quit playing a year ago. But my wife convinced me to play the “Glow Ball” scramble. When I told some of the guys it would be my last tournament, they kept talking about how it couldn’t be my last tournament. We had plenty of blind golfers, some fully blind. They have a ‘coach’ to line them up correctly, read the greens, describe the hole layout and more. After that, it is just a matter of swinging and the coach watches the player’s ball.”

“Wow. I never knew blind people could play golf.”

“Now you know. Why don’t you and your buddies come out and watch next week’s glow-ball.”

“I can’t speak for them but I will be there.”

“Great, let’s play.”

It was a great afternoon, in spite of Tyler whipping the snot out of me. He finished the day at eight under par. I was 22 over par which, for me, isn’t really a bad round.

Sitting there waiting for us when we came in were Zach and Jason. “So how did you guys do? Jason asked.

We told them and asked how they did. Jason said he finished at even. Zach didn’t want to say but finally admitted to be two over.

“Listen guys, I asked Ray and he said he would come but I wanted to ask you if you would join me next weekend for the “Lighthouse for the Blind Glow-ball Scramble. I have two open spots on my team and would like for you to fill those spots.”

Before they could answer they wanted to go off and talk about it. In the meantime, when he said he wanted them to take the two spots on his team I was so disappointed he didn’t ask me to be on the team. I understood why, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

Tyler knew something was up. I was quiet for the first time all day. “Ray, I didn’t ask you to play for a reason. I need you in another place. You understand the holes and the architecture. You read greens really well. And, beyond the tournament I would like for you to join me as my coach. You may struggle with certain parts of the game as a player, but you know the game. I know you can help me.”

“You know, I think that might be right up my alley. I would love to be your coach. But, why do you need a coach. You played well without one today. You are a scratch golfer.”

“Ray, it will be dark. If they will let me, why would I not want to get the help. Besides, you did some of the job today when you watched my ball. I can’t play without someone to do that.”

“I guess I did.”

About that time, Zach and Jason came back. “We are in, but we would really like to know why you are asking us. We haven’t treated you very well today.”

Tyler responded, “I didn’t tell you I am slowly losing my sight. I kind of deserved it. I made you think I didn’t pay attention. That you can’t sit with a guy not paying attention, you also clearly want to win. I want to win. Let’s do this.”

A week later, the five of us, Zach, Jason, Tyler, and Michele all played. I was Tyler’s coach. It was an amazing night. Seeing the glow-balls travel through the air and several blind golfers play amazing rounds.

As far as coaching my friend Tyler? I think I have found my place in the game.

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