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Monday, May 6, 2013

Dirty Golf Tricks

My Aunt Mickey, who's in her mid-90s, was an avid golfer until a few years ago.  She and my Uncle Roland, very successful ranchers in Western Oklahoma, worked hard and played hard.  Most of what I know about living life with enthusiasm comes from Aunt Mickey, and her golfing tips are priceless for their imagery if not for their integrity.  (You need to know that Aunt Mickey taught me how to cheat at cards and board games as well as how to slaughter, pick, and fry a chicken, start to finish.)

Aunt Mickey's home course, Alva Golf and Country Club ( is carved out of a couple of pastures, with some interesting ditches and gullies and a fair amount of indigenous prairie brush creating some challenging situations for folks who just can't stay in the short grass.  There's not much sand -- well, it is western Oklahoma -- but there is a small pond or two until August, when just about everything but deep wells tends to dry up for a while.  But the club has a lively women's league and Aunt Mickey led the pack of ranchers and doctors' wives for three or four decades.

We were talking about my golf game during one of my annual visits with her -- I was approaching my 70th birthday.   Gearing up for some vicarious competition, she asked my about my index.  I told her.  She squinted her eyes, looked at me and asked, "Is that your index or your age?"  If it had been anybody else I would have shot back something equally sharp, but I know better when I get into one of those verbal sparring matches with Aunt Mickey.  I can't win.  So I just sucked it up and held my ground, about the best I could do under the circumstances.

"You need to get to work on your game," she continued.  "You don't have much time.  After 70, your index goes up 2 points for every birthday."  Encouraging.  Supportive.

And then, her advice on how to get the edge on the competition, drawn from her own personal repertoire of dirty golf tricks: "Just pick up two or three of those little grass snakes that hang out around the greens and the ponds and tuck them in an empty pocket in your golf bag.  When, when you've made your putt, slip one of those little snakes in the cup when you replace the flag.  They'll just curl up and sit there until the next foursome gets ready to putt and when they pull the flag the snake will peek up.  They'll all miss their putts and," now grinning broadly at her own memory, "you'll be able to hear their shrieks from the next fairway."

I confess, it's a rather delicious image.