Of Good Friends, Golf — and Gators
In which The PubScout and friends check out wildlife-rich Oyster Bay Golf Links in Sunset Beach.
I hadn’t swung a golf club in 40 years, and I wasn’t about to do so now. I was so bad when I did play, I started out as a lefty and switched to righty — with no change in the end result. My handicap was, well, golf. But since my high school buddies were playing a course close to my home, they asked if I wanted to ride along with them. I assented because I thought it would be fun, and it was.
We all graduated from the same high school class back in New Jersey in the halcyon days of 1965, so there was no need for bonding. And when I golfed BC (Before Children), I may have moved a ball or two to improve my lie — and the lie that I was even remotely a golfer. I enjoyed the outdoors, the walking and the constant camaraderie: “You’re still away,” “Never up, never in” and the sarcastic “You’ve got the touch of a neurosurgeon” as a 3-foot putt sailed across the green.
Even so, these guys cracked me up, apart from the constant kibitzing and chop-busting. They were hackers just as I was back in the day, and I had to laugh when they’d take drops where they threw the ball toward the hole or take mulligans and “gimmes” from 5 feet — and more — away.
But it did not matter one whit. Nobody cared. We were having fun just being outside together on a perfect day for golf — cool breezes, pleasant temps and zero humidity.
Oh. And freakin’ alligators.
Twenty-six of them in total on the course, according to the ranger who came to warn us about the “nest” on Holes 15 and 16. Some were only maybe 4 or 5 feet long, but others were 8, 9, 10, 12 feet long. They were far more accustomed to our presence than we were to theirs. I kept my foot on the gas pedal of the golf cart whenever we got within 20 feet.
There were other examples of interesting fauna on the course at Oyster Bay Golf Links in Sunset Beach, too. A species of what appeared to be giant cormorants with gold beaks and white faces were often seen drying their wings before taking another plunge in the water — like many of my buddies’ shots did.
There were also the weirdest-looking squirrels I’d ever seen. Although they came in different colors — including striped and black, they all had pure white faces — so white we thought at first they were golf balls they had stolen. And their tails were beautifully bushy and long. I couldn’t get any pictures because the buggers were lightning fast, as opposed to the gators who basked lazily on the banks of the ponds, not giving our presence a second thought.
We wrapped up the day with a great meal and adult beverages at the famous Boundary House in Calabash, where Jennifer and Angie kept us sated in food and drink. BoHo is one of the best 19th holes around, and in it we agonized over the missed birdies but exulted in the great pars and shots out of the bunkers (though they were few and far between), all the while laughing and reminiscing about the good old days. As Grantland Rice, the famous sportswriter, once said: “Golf is 20 percent mechanics and technique. The other 80 percent is philosophy, humor, tragedy, romance, melodrama, companionship, camaraderie, cussedness and conversation.”
The day almost made me commit to buying a set of clubs and getting back into the sport.
But then I realized that the days of crazy men jumping up and down, cursing and beating the ground with sticks probably should not be resurrected. Witch doctors, after all, are pretty much extinct.
But I’d surely ride shotgun again.
And if we’re at Oyster Bay, maybe WITH a shotgun.
Want to play it?
Oyster Bay Golf Links
614 Lakeshore Drive, Sunset Beach