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More Fun Golfing with Kids

By Tony Pennay,
TravelGolf.com Contributor

PHOENIX - "You'll be with those kids over there," said the Asian lady working the booth at the Los Feliz Public Golf Course. "They've been waiting awhile."

I never went golfing much as a kid. My dad took my brother and I "out on the links" a few times in our formative years, but we just spent most of the time swinging the putter at each other's faces and didn't get much work in on our strokes. So when Sean Kenna, my college roommate, picked up a full set of clubs on sale, my expectations for my own game were not high. I figured Sean and I would go golfing every once in a while, but I never figured I'd be humiliated at the hands of a seven year old named Crystal.

Sean and I headed out to the Los Feliz Country Club/ Cheap Ass Public Par-3 9-Hole Golf Course in Los Angeles. You check in at the shack by the first and last holes and can rent assorted wedges, irons, and putters for $0.25 apiece. The two previous times I had been to this course, there had been no waiting, but it was noon on a Sunday.

"All right," says Sean. If golfing with a couple of kids gets us to the first tee faster, then what the hell. We're going to have to cut out the best part of our golf game, which is the loud boisterous cussing we do after hitting a ball off the course, but there are sacrifices you have to make in the name of expediency.

The two kids are there with their mother, who is eerily quiet and stands about twenty feet away from us at all times, lurking in the shadows. There is a boy, Eugene, who at ten was the older of the two children, and his sister, Crystal, who was generously listed at seven, though in my estimation she couldn't have been a day over 5 ½. I guess we should have known we were in trouble when both of them had their own personalized set of golf clubs. Eugene has a swift looking bag of clubs with Tiger Woods Jr. Clubs emblazoned down the side in prominent lettering. Crystal had a set of clubs, roughly the size and shape of my femur, in a purple bag with wheels.

"Hello, I'm Eugene," said the young man, who, dressed in his polo shirt, cargo shorts, and Pokemon tennis shoes was the essence of golf etiquette as he extended his hand in greeting without the prompting of his mother. His sister, Crystal, no bigger than an atomic particle and with twice as much energy, shook our hands and chimed in, "You guys can tee off."

Sean and I, whose original plan of attack had been to ignore the kids completely, were taken off-guard. We quickly mumbled thanks and set up to tee off. Looking at the kids, despite their slick looking bags professional manner, there should have been no doubt we could have at least played competitively with them. Whatever advantage they had on us in skill, equipment, and courtesy, was surely leveled by our superior size, strength, and worldly experience.

Sean tees off first. He whips out his South Bay 9-iron, takes a few smooth looking practice hacks, and proceeds to knock his tee shot right into the middle of the fairway... on the ninth hole. I laugh at him a little, give the obligatory, "Don't worry about it, everyone has at least one bad shot during the day," but I was thinking to myself with Machiavellian delight, "I can get a shot or two on him on this one." I stroll up to the tee, and eye the flag 125 yards away. It's a wide fairway. I take a few swings with my rented 9-iron, wind up, and promptly knock the ball in the direction of Sean's, precisely where I didn't want it to go. Luckily, it hits a tree and lands in the rough to the right.

"It's going to be a long day for us," I laugh, pretending like golf has ever been anything other than a long day for me, and have a seat.

Eugene wanders up to the tee next. He places his ball, takes his swings, and he too knocks the ball over towards the Badlands. He scrunches up in his face in mild perturbation, but says nothing. Sean and I give the silent nod to each other, the one that says, at least this kid isn't going to show us up. Man, that would be embarrassing.

Finally, Crystal, the atomic particle, walks up to the tee, with her protons and electrons swirling about. She is the first to use the little rubber permanent tee that looks as if it was at several points in the past used as a catheter. She closes her eyes, turns her body around tornado style, and proceeds, without a warm-up swing, to knock the ball 125 yards and ten feet from the pin.

"S**t," I say, momentarily bringing back the best part of my game.

"Holy s**t," says Sean, showing why he is the superior golfer.

"Mother f'in pile of steaming dog crap," says Eugene. And that's when we knew that we were in for it.

Crystal's green game isn't as solid as her tee game, and she two putts her way to a par. Eugene, who swings the irons well and chips like the name on his bag, gets on the green quickly and shoots a bogey. Sean and I play an amusing round of who can miss by more, and we hit the ball over and around the green for a while, before we both drain on our 7th shot.

"Who came up with this 3 par anyway?" I ask rhetorically.

"I got a par," replies Crystal.

"That's great, real f'in great."

After three holes I'm 8 shots behind Sean, 10 behind Eugene, and 11 behind Crystal who hasn't hit a bad shot yet. And that's as close as I got for the rest of the day. On the fifth hole Crystal starts showboating. She has this putter, as big as my index finger, with a suction cup on the end, to hold the golf ball while she waits for me to finish making an ass of myself. Personally, I think a suction cup encourages a laziness and indolence typical of America's youth. And after missing a two-foot putt on the fourth, I consider telling the mother so in a loud and angry voice, but decide instead to attack a bush off to the side of my course with my crooked, rented putter.

Soon Crystal turns her putter into a weapon. She puts the golf ball in the suction cup, swings the club backwards, then forward quickly, and the ball goes flying off according to the laws of physics. Apparently physics didn't like Sean or I very much, because her golf ball goes flying by vital parts of our anatomies several times.

"I have a gun," said Crystal. "Bang, bang. Just like a gun." She pivoted and swung wildly. The ball comes flying off and bounces perilously close to Sean's face.

"Ha, Ha," we laugh, and look anxiously at the mother, hoping she will notice that her seven year old atomic particle daughter is obviously a violent sociopath. I take matters into my own hands. I notice that Eugene is washing his golf ball.

"Is he getting a drink?" I ask Crystal. She stops in mid-swing and giggles.

"He's just washing his ball."

"Oh," I tell her, "I thought that was a drinking fountain. When I am thirsty, I drink out of there."

Never, ever tell a seven year old, candy munching, golf prodigy, sociopath that you like to drink from the ball washer.

"Drink!" she commands, and turns her putter gun towards me.

"But I'm not thirsty. I had a drink on the last hole. I guess you missed it when you hit your tee shot five yards away from the pin and I was attacking the bush."


"Hey, it's your turn to tee off, Crystal," I say out of the side of my mouth, trying to imitate her mother's voice.

"Mom, Tony drinks out of the washer."

"That's why he is so bad at golf, Crystal."

"Oh," she says, and knocks her ball straight down the fairway without looking at the hole. Some moms are funny.

For the next three holes I continue to knock the ball around haphazardly, as though the hole were an entity in a constant state of motion, actively trying to avoid my ball. Eugene is now keeping a constant distance from me, thinking that poor golfing was a contagious disease. Crystal is constantly nipping at my socks and threatening me with her putter wanting me to drink.

Finally we arrive at the ninth hole. I'd like to say that everything turned around and I finally showed those kids what I was made of, but the truth is you don't suck by accident, and I finished much the same way that I started, shooting a quadruple bogey. Eugene and Crystal shook our hands after handing us a sound defeat, and Crystal points at the ball washer on the first hole in a final appeal for me to drink. I ended up about 25 shots behind the both of them, and 13 or so behind Sean. I guess the moral of this story is don't golf with kids unless they are yours and you can whip them with a putter.

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