Lining up for drive, Terri asked, “Is that a large squirrel in the fairway?” I looked towards the golf ball I had launched down the fairway and responded, “If so, it is one heck of a squirrel. I think it’s an alligator”
It was an alligator: one that had crawled out of a pond that paralleled the fairway. When we got closer, we watched him saunter over to my ball, pick it up and carry it back to his watery sanctuary.
Realizing what had happened, I thought back to when I was playing golf in Prince Edward Island and a fox crossed the fairway, grabbed my ball and ran back to his lair. Observing what had taken place, a local told me the fox regularly hung out on that particular hole and if he stole your ball you got to drop and hit another one—he also advised to me do it fast before the fox had the opportunity to steal my second ball.
A similar event took place when I was playing golf in Miami. I was walking towards my ball when a crow picked it up, flew to a palm tree and dropped it into the palm fronds. What ensued was an argument whether I got a free drop, had to climb the palm and play the ball or take a one-stroke penalty for an unplayable lie. I took the free drop and spent the rest of the day watching out for the ball-thieving bird.
The weekend after the alligator had stolen my ball, Terri and I were playing the same hole and my ball laid near the pond where the gator hung out. Terri, driving the golf cart, dropped me off and turned the vehicle to go to her ball. Realizing that I had the wrong golf club, I yelled for her to come back. Hearing my cry, she made too sharp of a turn and rather than being thrown out of the cart, jumped to safety.
The cart was pointing down the slope that led to the pond. In shock from her sudden exit, Terri was standing behind the cart when it started to roll towards the water. Observing from a distance what was taking place, I took it for granted that she would catch and stop the slow moving vehicle; then I realized it was moving faster. I yelled, “Terri, the cart! Stop the cart!” Roused from her stupor she started after the cart: too late as it rolled into the pond.
The cart, with the water almost to the top of its seat, sat in the middle of the pond. With no one to help us, Terri set off to find help and I dejectedly stared at the half submerged golf cart.
Thinking about how embarrassed we were going to be, I yelled, “Stop. I’m going to push the #$*&@ thing out of the water.” Terri responded, “You’re going to do what?” As I took off my socks, I yelled “You heard me, I’m going to push the #$*&@ thing out of the water.” When I started towards the pond, she placed her hands on her hips and exclaimed, “I forbid it!” That did it. I was headed into the water.
Surprisingly, the bottom of the pond was firm sand and I was able to push the cart. After I got started, I heard splashing and looked and saw Terri headed into the water. Worried about the alligator and other creatures that called the pond home, she was running towards me with her golf shoes on and lifting her feet so high that her knees were near her chin. She joined in pushing the cart until it got stuck and then as I pushed, she placed it in reverse and backed it out of the water.
For a couple of minutes we stood still; then, without saying a word, I put my socks and shoes on, got out my eight iron and prepared to hit my second shot. Likewise, Terri grabbed a club and started to her ball. The next couple of holes we didn’t play well but we completed the round and without saying a word about what happened, returned the golf cart to the cart shed.
Our watery experience reminded me of a valuable lesson: before seeking help make an effort to solve a problem. Who knows? You may be able to push the cart out of the pond.
“Self-help must precede help from others. Even for making certain of help from heaven, one has to help oneself.” – Moraji R. Desai