The Stuff of Legends (not even remotely funny)
By Tim Horan on 12/21/12
It all started one rain soaked day in September 2008 on the famed seventh hole at Wildwood — competition day! Not just any competition day but THE BIG ONE — The Club Championship.

I awoke early, eager to get to the course. The clubs and trolley cleaned the night before, battery charged ready and waiting in the hallway. My plan was to have some breakfast at the club, a little practice on the short course, a visit to the range and a putt prior to a teeing off around 10:15 am.

Those of you who know me will know that I wear spectacles for golf, driving and watching TV mainly ... a few other things, but mainly golf, driving and watching TV.

I left home that morning and drove six of the eight miles to Wildwood without my glasses. I don't know why, how I didn't notice I just don't know.

Turning back I noted the time and was not overly panicked. I still had time to get home and back to the club with time to practice; the breakfast might be a bit tight but what the heck? Greater battles have been won on empty stomachs.

The warning light for fuel came on before I had found a suitable turning to turn the car around. A quick calculation; 6 miles home, 8 miles to the club, nearest garage to the club 2 miles, I'll fill up after the round. NO PROBLEM!

I arrived home, located said glasses and set out again for Wildwood; arriving at the club around 9:30 am. Setting up the trolley I sorted out clubs, bag and bought provisions largely to replace the breakfast that I had missed out on. Off I went to the short course and the range in preparation for the round.

The weather was appalling; wind and rain in equal measure and deteriorating by the minute. Notwithstanding the weather I embarked on the round in positive mood having had a reasonably encouraging practice session.

Seventh hole: two over par, walking leisurely behind my newly acquired remote controlled trolley chatting to my playing partners the trolley decided to ignore the stop command button and sped up to a steady pace. No amount of button pressing was dissuading said trolley from leaving our four-ball to join the group ahead. The trolley, bag, clubs, balls and provisions just kept on going at a pace that was difficult to catch having already left my limited sprint zone. It headed straight down the fairway into the swirling mist and rain.

The seventh hole at Wildwood is a par five, where at 300 yards from the tee a brook traverses the fairway. There are two bridges, ample you would think for most occasions, not it would seem for this particular rain soaked morning in September 2008. The trolley, more by luck and land based contours proceeding unabated, approached the right-hand bridge perfectly, hitting the bridge at such speed I thought it would just carry on over. However, soggy ground at the foot of the bridge snagged the right hand wheel, the trolley slewed to the right and left the bridge halfway across its span dumping bag, clubs and provisions under power into the brook.

With the amount of water falling out of the sky the brook was in full flood.

I arrived at the bank, heart pounding from the chase to see my trolley, bag, clubs, balls and provisions gently bobbing in the turbulent water. Weighing up the options I thought hard and long and leapt into the brook just as the trolley et all turned into the current, filled with water and sank.

In vain, I attempted to rescue my prized golf gear, but now waist deep in what is normally a 6-8 inch deep stream, trying to lift and maneuver the now water filled bag, clubs, provisions and 16kg of electric trolley.

My colleagues at first surprised by my sudden turn of speed, then to their credit concerned at my disappearance below the level of the fairway were now doubled over with uncontrollable laughter at the sight that confronted them from the muddy banks of the brook.

After several moments with tear filled eyes, blind pointing, guffaws and involuntary coughing my playing partners gamely formed a human chain and between us we managed to pull out the said golf ensemble without further mishap.

The trolley (now dead) was dispatched into a nearby copse to await later collection, the bag was up-ended and some semblance of order restored.

As you can imagine the ridiculing over the next few holes became increasingly mischievous but good-natured as it obviously was I was wet, I was cold, my day had gone from one of great expectation to one of despair, my mood had blackened as did the skies and it poured.

Ninth hole: the shoulder strap on my cart bag broke. Being a cart bag it has two handles designed only to lift the bag onto a trolley or into a car but neither of which are positioned to allow the bag to be carried with any sense of style or decorum around a golf course.

Having completed the first nine holes I returned to the clubhouse in full expectation of being able to hire a club trolley. Never in a million years, silly boy, busiest day in the Wildwood calendar. All of the thirty-odd trolleys were out on hire. A quick visit to the pro-shop met with an offer to borrow a trolley from the assistant pro. Great ... problem solved ... NO WAY!

The said borrowed trolley had a mind of its own, a wonky handle and loose coupling making it almost as uncontrollable as my lamented and hitherto coveted remote controlled beastie now dead and secreted away in a thorny coppice alongside the famed seventh hole at Wildwood.

Having struggled with the lowly but equally unpredictable manual trolley and completed what was not a bad round of golf all things considered I returned to the clubhouse in reasonably good heart to find that my earlier escapades had been broadcast to a wider audience.

The relatively minor incident in the brook across the famed seventh hole at Wildwood had become a major catastrophe, my leap into the torrid waters being viewed as life threatening by some and something of an overreaction by others. The whole sorry affair had become the source of minor concern, great amusement, some pity and a disproportionate amount of full throated ribbing, enthusiastically bellowed by members, some of whom I had hitherto considered friends?

Now you could be forgiven for thinking that this story is at an end. IN A PIG'S EAR!

Having showered, a change of clothes, afternoon tea and the presentation drinks, wherein my continued presence was prompted by good natured jibes and an impromptu mention in the speeches I was feeling better about my day, friendships were re-asserted, their boorish behaviour forgiven I excused myself from my present company.

Liberating a buggy from the caddy master's shed I set off to recover the errant trolley. The weather had worsened and the ground was fast becoming waterlogged. Entering the copse the buggy first lost traction and then by degrees became stuck in the mud.

Un-perturbed, I loaded the trolley aboard; ramming the trolley frame with the weight of the battery onto the accelerator I selflessly heaved the buggy out of the mud. At first the wheels just spun and then quite suddenly they grabbed taking me by surprise.

Unceremoniously I was dumped into the same quagmire in which the buggy itself had been stuck, the buggy leapt from the bog and careered deeper into the copse where it lodged at a jaunty angle in a cleft of a gnarled hawthorn with thorns the size of witch's hats, wheels still spinning!

Freeing first myself from the mud and then the buggy, at great personal danger I might add from those wicked thorns I returned to the clubhouse, collected my clubs, endured some sporadic ribbing from the smokers banished from the clubhouse to the shelter overlooking the practice green, and loaded up the car with my rain sodden golf gear.

Setting off for home should have been the end of what had been an eventful day ... NOT A CHANCE IN HELL!

Turning out of the car park and into the light afternoon traffic feeling tired but nonetheless quite pleased with my golf under the circumstances, I turned on the CD and settled in for the eight mile journey home through the leafy lanes of Surrey.

A sudden thought "DIESEL" looking down at the dashboard and confirming that the warning light was indeed lit I pulled into a private driveway in order to turn around and get to the garage two miles the other side of the golf course.

You got there before me didn't you? The engine first coughed, rallied a little and then died ... Out of Diesel! Dead! Silence, just the ticking of the cooling exhaust!

I won't bore you with how I apologized to the home owner whose driveway I was now blocking or how generous human nature can be ... having assisted me in moving my car, lending me a sturdy fuel can, the owner then insisted on driving me to the garage and back. To him, I give my eternal gratitude, in my hour (or day) of need.

Over the months, in certain circles this story has been told and re-told in the clubhouse; short versions, highly elaborate versions, comical versions and scary versions but all, of the "Incident on the famed seventh hole at Wildwood" no doubt sparked off by something in their own rounds or in response to an advert read for some trolley or other.

It is retold by members who are not only unknown to me but those who don't know who the story is about or when it happened.

Sitting there, in my favourite chair at the club with my Guinness, an enigmatic smile on my face, I never seek to correct the detail, never defend or admit my own part in the story.

Other's enjoyment of the story and the telling of it in all it's eccentric forms is all that matters, and although I will admit that I have been known to "fan the flames" and embellish the less complementary or in-articulate renditions with little asides like "I heard the buggy was a right off" or "that the water was over five feet deep".

I suppose that all great stories have a basis in fact. This surely is the stuff of legends.

This was written by Tim Horan, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

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Image via Flickr, Kitt Foo

[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
I trust there is a small bronze plaque afixed to the bridge on the famed 7th hole at Wildwood (now & forever known as Horan's Folly).

Great story!
windowsurfer says:
We are such stuff as streams are made on and our little life is rounded sleet . . .
Tim Horan says:
The weather was indeed a tempest - Jason Kind Regards
Tim Horan says:
Apologies Mitchell. I had Beef on my mind
windowsurfer says:
That's what she said.
jfurr says:
Great story, thanks for sharing
Matt F says:
Great read Tim!
joe jones says:
I have had some bad days on the course over the years but not one comes even close to what you went through. You obviously have the patience of a saint or a strong leaning toward punishment. I would have been off the course after nine or sooner. Great story telling.
DougE says:
Now THAT'S a story! Great job Tim.
KeithH says:
Great story.
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