Golfers always look for something to give them an extra edge. A better strike on the ball. More distance off the tee. Putts which roll into the cup. Gamesmanship in a tight match.
“Have you always pronated your wrists so early in the back swing?”
“Does it help standing closed at address?”
“So you got rid of the slice then?”
Most golfers know the game of golf is played between the ears. The space which fills with negative thoughts on a tree lined tee. A dog leg with O B and well placed bunkers. It is why the Big Boys on Tour pay vast sums to their Mind Gurus. They learn to switch off the emotion. They are coached to conserve energy. Joy. Sadness. Fear. Emotions left for outside the ropes.
Ruggy thought she had it cracked. Thought she had found the secret and supped from the elixir of the golfing gods. The key to success and sub par. She thought it was more powerful than a pair of lucky socks. She was wrong, but in the end it was worse for The Sheriff and his Deputy. A wound inflicted which would take time to heal and always leave a tiny scar.
The Golf Police checked the diary and blackberry for the week ahead. Appointments all points of the compass.
“Not sure when I will be back” he said as the last greasy dish was rinsed in the soapy sink. The remnants of the roast piled on a plate. Crispy potatoes and golden parsnips and Yorkshires. Cold cabbage and a slice of apple pie. The smell of apple and nutmeg mingled with the roast chicken and scent of bay leaves. The empty wine bottle was put out for recycling and the glasses washed until they shone.
With the last plates loaded into the dish washer I gave the surfaces a quick wipe with the kitchen spray, lit an orange scented candle and dimmed the lights.
Time for some paperwork. I turned on the computer. The inbox was full.
I replied to my new Nigerian friend.
To: Dr. Joseph
Subject: Your Money
I was so sorry to learn of the loss of your whole family in a recent plane crash. Please accept my condolences. I think it is very kind of you to want to send all your money over to me, but I must decline your generosity. On this occasion I will not forward my bank details and suggest you give your millions to a more deserving cause.
To: Parcel Force, Uzbeckistan
Subject: Undelivered parcel
Thank you for drawing to my attention a package you say has gone missing in transit. I know a bit about your neck of the woods. I know Marco Polo travelled on The Silk Route and Alexander the Great marched through with his army on the way to India. I also know I have not posted a parcel to this part of the world. So, on this occasion, I will not open your attachment.
I deleted all the rest of the spam and trash and sent a few more emails.
To: Red Team Leader,
Leave the ladder and hose and the big red truck. Put down the biscuits, mug of tea and cards. Tee time booked for Wednesday. Bring your ‘A’ Game. We are going to mash the bad guys. Woody x
To: Big Rich (cc Ruggy)
Don’t forget we have a game with Red Team Leader booked for Wednesday. We intend to crush you.
To: The Sheriff
Have an unexpected free day on Thursday. Any chance of a game? Woody x
I pressed send and switched off the computer. When I look back, I wonder whether life would have been easier had the last email not reached its destination.
Outside, day had given way to night and the moon began her silvery ascent, surrounded by a tapestry of stars. It was too early for the badger but the fox had begun his evening prowl and paused to scent the chilly night air. The moonlight slid through the leaded lights and the stars were bright in the black sky. The temperature dropped and the vegetable patch felt the first cold edge of Autumn. The fox shivered.
The following day, the Golf Police loaded the car with his overnight bag, Blackberry and lap top and headed off on his travels. In between meetings and surveys, he dined on fine cuisine with good wines served by discreet waiters, dressed in black and white. He always had desserts with extra lashings of cream, followed by cheese and biscuits. He slept in six pillowed beds in neutral toned minimalist rooms, with designer fruit bowls full of highly polished apples. The showers were big enough for a rugby team and the shower gels, made from extracts of seaweed and aloe vera, were lined up next to the heated white fluffy towels. The red headed receptionist knew what paper he read and daily enquired about the Shakespearian thespian, as he said good morning on the way to breakfast. The Polish waitress took his order. Full English with strong tea and mixed toast.
On the home front the suppers were simple salads. Peppery rocket with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A ripe avocado and a few green olives. The TV stayed on the Golf Channel or girlie chick flicks. The bathroom was tidy, there were no cups left in the sink, no biscuit crumbs on the worktop. I took the pillow to the spare room, slept in a snuggly bed and dreamed of backspin and eagles.
On Wednesday I awoke and left early. The driving range was quiet and I hit a bucket of balls slowly. Concentrated on the shot and grooved the swing. By the time I reached the club, Ruggy had demolished double poached egg on toast was on her second coffee. Big Rich and Red Team Leader had gone for the full English, followed by a round of toast.
“You won’t stand a chance today” said Ruggy.
“Why would that be?” said Red Team Leader “I don’t do losing”.
Ruggy pulled up her sleeve and revealed the blue power balance band.
“Great colour” I said. “How does it work?” Ruggy explained.
“I don’t know” she said. “It’s got something in it”.
“Volcanic dust?” said Big Rich.
“Won’t stand a chance against my lucky socks” I said
The Red Team Leader and I discussed tactics on the tee and were six points down after eight holes.
“See if you can get that thing off her arm”.
“Patience. They won’t keep paring the holes and dove tailing”.
We pulled it back on the back nine and won the match. Ruggy got six blobs.
The tea cakes tasted all the sweeter.
“I should ask for a refund” said Big Rich. “From the Conman who sold you that thing”.
“Might just as well wear an elastic band” said Red Team Leader.
“Wait and see” said Ruggy. “Lots of the sports stars are wearing them.”
We waited. Went home for supper and went back for another match the next day. Red Team Leader was back on the fire truck and his place was taken by The Sheriff.
“Have you seen what’s on Ruggy’s arm?” said Big Rich.
The Sheriff was not impressed.
“Will take more than that” he said. “I have been driving the ball well”.
I showed him my lucky socks. Blue with little anchors and yachts.
“They are toast” I said and stroked the Q link under my fleece.
The trees wore their autumnal colours of reds, yellow and coppery golds. The green keepers blew the fallen leaves off the fairways and greens and they collected in piles beneath the oaks. Busy squirrels buried acorns for the coming winter. The sun was low and the shadows long. The greens had been fertilised and hollow tined and the putts ran fast and true.
Ruggy blobbed the first three holes. Drives were wayward off the tee and fairway woods found bunkers. The putts raced and the chips were short.
“I’m taking it off” she said and pulled the power band off her wrist.
“Give it to me” said Big Rich.
“Maybe you can get a refund or use it to hold up your tomato plants next year” said The Sheriff.
And that is when it all went wrong.
We had hot cups of tea and tea cakes after the game.
“Such fun” said Ruggy. “These tea cakes are divine. Must do it again”.
I looked at the Sheriff and he looked back at me. There were no words.
“Speak later” he said. We traded hugs. A hug which said more than words.
I went home and skipped supper. I washed the lucky socks and put them on the radiator. I gently took off the Q link and placed in on the dressing table next to the clock. A smooth silver pebble which reminded me of the sea, childhood and cliff tops.
The Golf Police rang and I ignored the phone. I pulled the curtains shut and closed out the silvery moon. The badger came out and the owl swooped in the trees and the fox walked past the vegetable patch, sniffed the cold night air and shivered.
When the sky lightened from the east, I turned the computer back on and sent an email.
The Sheriff did not read it until after he had finished work. He booted up his computer and went through his inbox. He didn’t reply to Dr. Joseph or the email with attachment from Uzbeckistan. Delete. Delete. Delete. He sat and read the one marked ‘ GOLF – do not delete’.
Subject: The Match
It wasn’t the lucky socks that let you down. It wasn’t the Q-link. It wasn’t the power of Ruggy’s hologrammed band filled with whatever…. It was me. Normally you shoot low and I am your backstop. But on the day you became a tree hugger off the fairways, I wasn’t there for you. Five down after six was ugly. I have booked a lesson. We don’t need to speak of this again. We were played off the park. Sorry . Woody x
The Sheriff hit the keyboard and pinged off the reply.
I had a bad day on the fairways and it hurt losing four and three to Ruggy and Big Rich. You are correct. It will not happen again and we will wipe the smug smile off their faces. The Sheriff
The Golf Police returned from his trip. He put the shower gel, with extracts of seaweed and aloe vera, in the bathroom, ignored the bathroom scales, put the dirty shirts in the laundry basket and left biscuit crumbs on the worktop.