long day, long post

stevenpol's picture

and so it came to pass, on june 17, 2013, that polevoy, overweight, underfed, sleep deprived, and obviously not right of mind, set out to play 100 holes of golf, on foot, in a single day. what could compel a person, who often displays traits shown by those of sound mind, to try to do such a thing. love of golf? surely that plays into it. but doesn't 250-300 rounds of golf a year fill whatever void a man is trying to fill? charity? polevoy is as sympathetic as the next person at the plight of those less fortunate, though in 60 years he never displayed any real great outpouring of goodness toward any particular group or did anything that would put him too far out other that reach for the check book. so why now would he decide that in 85 degree heat, in the hills and mountains an hour northwest of philadelphia, to do something charitable? thinking back on that right now, there is no good answer that comes to mind.
choosing a partner is very important when setting out to play 100 holes of alternate shot golf in a single helping. the person must be at least as accomplished a golfer as the one doing the choosing, must have a personality that somehow jibes with the chooser, and most of all must be able to spend a night with polevoy in a hotel room some 100 miles away from home, and those of you who know polevoy can only imagine the horror. oh yes, that partner must be able above all else to complete 100 holes of golf on foot. think about it. approximately 24 miles of walking, all the while putting up with the kvetching and whining all around him know polevoy to be capable of. so with these criteria, in choosing young chris stanchina polevoy knows in his heart that he has found the perfect partner. a fine sportsman, youthful enough to be able to carry polevoy should he be unable to continue, a golfer of modest but comparable ability with enthusiasm to go the distance. and of course the most important reason of all, chris says yes. oh what a terrible mistake. looking back i write it off as the foolishness of the young. but it did seem so hopeful when his face lit up upon being asked.
did i tell you that the name of the day was the 100 hole hike? not the 50 hole hike, the 60, 65 or 70 hole hike. polevoy was certain that he had explained to chris what they were going to try to accomplish. maybe chris just heard what he cared to hear. maybe chris was thinking of the night in the hotel, polevoy's cpap machine making howling noises, over which no one, not even the sainted polevoy spouse can hear the gas he is always emitting. might chris have been thinking that this would be enjoyable?
so leaving from galloway national on sunday night, after phil mickelson winning the us open, the polevoy and chris set out in high spirits. if you listen closely to your heart you might still be able to tease out some of the lively banter of the two hour ride. "i spent the entire day sitting still, my back is killing me. thank god for advil." "yeah, my foot is a little sore, but my wife loves me(?)." so together the fat one with the terrible back pain and the spirited young one with the foot that bothers him arrive in morgantown, pa. for the night. the room is a holiday inn room which is just fine for the duo. and almost beyond belief, they both sleep until the 4:30 wake up call. please keep in mind that this is june 17th, and we all know that the longest day of the year is june 20th. there is a long, long day ahead. at 5:30 am, looking for a hearty breakfast with which to start the day, they find claire's country kitchen. lights are on. people are walking around. spirits rise. the first god sign. walk to the front door. locked. what? locked. but someone is inside and coming to the window. she just points to the sign that says open at 6. drats. it's going to be a long morning on an empty stomach.
have i told you that polevoy and chris are going to be playing some golf? and do you know that both of them play to about a 15 handicap? so while they are not good, they each harbor the thought that if they work hard enough, if they practice diligently enough, if they wish and hope with all their might, then one day,once, and that is really all they would dare hope for, one day, once, that everything would fall magically into place, the world would repay the time and energy spent with one round of golf that they could talk about to everyone they meet for the next six years. it would be boring. straight shots. putts going where they are aimed. polevoy could only imagine with a wheezing sigh.
at 5:45 they are at the golf course and they are teeing off on the 9th hole. and wouldn't you know it. the gol-dang, flipping first hole is a 170 yard par 3 over a lake. so in the early morning mist young chris stanchina strike the first blow for team polevoy, his low liner has absolutely no chance of going anywhere but in the water. tell me, is there anyone among you who would not dread that? people taking pictures, no warm-up and the shot described above? well, at least there is a nice picture commemorating the moment. polevoy then proceeds to hit a ball into the same lake, though with a much much better trajectory. folks, polevoy will tell you there is no better feeling.
the first ten holes go something like this. chris hits his ball into the fairway (where he should hit his ball), polevoy hits the next shot into the woods, the fescue, the lake. or you can change the names around. but you get the idea, right? quickly, almost predictably, one says to the other "jeez, i hope we have enough balls." christ, not even nine holes in. and the course is very, very hilly. polevoy's back is over medicated so there is no problem if he continues forward. stanchina's foot is a little sore. they will persevere. passing the clubhouse for hole 1, wondering aloud if there is some breakfast, being told not until 10am, the duo is being passed by others. some are already on the second round. polevoy is a mule, or a camel. slow and steady. keep moving. getting warm out. these shoes are a little loose. but soon enough the first round comes to a glorious end. yeaaaa. only 4 or 5 more. water, gatorade, onward.
the second 18 brings some very nice results. the team has a long run of about 12 holes where you would mistake them for truly mediocre golfers. 10 pars out of the 12 holes. shots flying where they are aimed. no lost balls. did i say no lost balls. the feeling is truly intoxicating. who would not want more? but soon, by the end of round two, the heat is upon them. it has been a lovely sunrise, coming up over the mountains. the good golf has carried them. but now with the sun up in the sky, it is hot. and there is nowhere to go to hide from the sun. the pace is slowing noticeably. but there it is. something to move forward for. egg sandwich. ahhh, the goodness of rewarmed, reconstituted egg. over cooked ham. soggy english muffin. one bite, two. it's gone. another gatorade and round three has commenced. the hills are becoming steeper. seems as if every walk goes up one hill or another. and the 15th hole, a par 3 of 165 yards ends at the bottom of the property and then you must go up, up, up to tee off on 16, a long par 4 that goes up even more before dropping down to the green maybe 50 or 60 feet below. for the third time in the day, polevoy curses this walk. not only is it steep, but the maintenance people are re-mulching it so it is soft and traction is bad. by now polevoy and chris are slowing. polevoy sucks on another cigar to regain his breath. chris says, in a little girl's whine, "i don't want to injure myself." (sorry chris) polevoy is wondering how much further they will go. some donations are by the hole. there is money to be made. no, no, no. these thoughts never crossed his mind. his feet were hot, his shoulders were hot, but his demeanor was cool (just wanted to say that). in reality, everything hurt a little, but polevoy's legs were strong. remember the mule or the camel.
the end of round three and lunch. chilly ham and heese sandwhich, but a delicious apple. cool and crisp. just right. and dietetic. the fourth round brings the end of the boys story. they have been lapped by everyone else on the course, sometimes more than once by al of those around them. chris is chafing. chafing? chafing. nine more holes and he has had enough. so chris is in the books for 63 holes. more than enough golf for a few weeks for most normal people. polevoy will finish up the fourth round by himself. his legs feel good still, but he is noticing a lack of ability to raise the club mush above his shoulders. each club seems to have weight tied to them. thankfully, mario the pro joins him for his last nine. he finished up 72 holes of golf, on foot, in one day. polevoy and chris have not strangled one another. it is almost 16 miles of walking. the cocktails, the steak dinner, the ride back to galloway national are all good and fun. it has been a long, fun, frustrating and ultimately satisfying day that hopefully polevoy will be smart enough never to try to repeat again.

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