The men stood around, their hands warmed by the coffees they were holding. Their breaths cast misty clouds into the crisp air. Golf clubs sat beside their vehicles. A plastic crate of day-old baked goods is passed around.
I guess the day-old gives it away that this is not a scene before some golf tournament. It was the parking lot of Perimeter Church as we were standing waiting for all the members of our group planning to carpool to a Men’s Retreat, hitting up a golf course along the way.
Paul’s wife Laurie was gracious enough to let me use her clubs. It really is saying something, considering my history of ‘borrowing’ things from the Farley’s. Somehow, someway I seem to trash the items that Paul has let me borrow, carry, move (although the soft-pine end-table being kicked into the parking lot incident was not me) things over the years and sadly, more often than not whatever it was has been returned in worse condition (if at all). This time was an exception, though. (phew!)
I had bought some golf-balls at Goodwill and made a friendly wager with my neighbor Chris concerning how many I would lose. He bet 18, or more. I thought that number was ridiculous. I hadn’t seen the course.
We played Cider Ridge, in Oxford Alabama. One comment while golfing was made that any golf course with the name ‘Ridge’ in it is bound to be a monster.
It was a beautiful course, even though the front nine were closed so we played the back nine twice. The second time through we played from the blue tees in order to have the course play different. The idea is great. The fact that we actually did it could be called ‘foolhardy’.
I’m not real sure how many golf-balls I lost. It wasn’t just water holes. The out of bounds was pretty rugged, and swallowed balls even when you knew precisely where they went. I only used two sleeves, I think. The rest of the golf-balls I lost were scrounged by a couple of guys with us that didn’t play. At least I wasn’t the only one donating.
We played pretty relaxed golf… who knows what I scored. I didn’t do too badly considering it was the first game in years. Got tons of exercise… probably two or three times as much as your average pro would get, if you add all the practice swings. Had some great swings and some good shots. Those seem to stick in my memory more than the bad ones, which out-number the good ones considerably.
The next day we played paintball. I wore the loosest clothing I could scrounge up, and only came away with three and a half bruises (my wallet saved me from half of one). And it was really only from one attack where I was crawling through an empty creek-bed, and got ambushed by someone with the same idea.
Most memorable was standing on the hill firing down as the other team charged into cover right below me. I got to take down a couple of the other team at once.
Talking with another player in passing the next day I asked about his bruises. “They’ll fade, but the glory will last forever”. Maybe he meant the glory of God, since it was a church retreat, but it still makes a lot of sense as the glory of the day, too.
The weekend was awesome. Spending time with Paul is a rare treat. In many ways we fell back into our familiarity very easily, and what a great thing it is to have a friend like that. Thanks for the invite, Paul!