The Course of Life

Fiction by Ande Jacobson

Ken started on the course early Sunday morning. With the sun slowly rising, illuminating the tiny droplets of dew covering the greens and fairways, Ken adjusted his cap on his neatly trimmed dark brown hair, stretched his long arms, placed his lengthy frame in position to address the ball, and hit his first tee shot. His swing connected beautifully but, alas, he had overcompensated for his nagging slice and severely hooked the ball. Ken watched his ball sail well out to the right until he lost sight of it as it peaked behind the tree line separating the first and ninth fairways.

“Quaaack!” Ken heard as he picked up his clubs. “I must have hit a duck over there,” he thought.

Since he went out as a single in the early mornings, he didn’t have to wait for other members of a foursome. He walked through the tree line and halfway down the ninth fairway following the flight path of his ball. He spotted the ball lying atop the single mound in the center of the fairway and looked around but couldn’t find any obvious evidence of the duck he thought the ball struck in flight.

After checking his distance from the green, Ken chose his club, a long iron, took a practice swing and addressed the ball. As he prepared to start his backswing, a duck staggered out from behind a nearby tree.

“Wait a minute,” said the duck as Ken started his backswing.

“Who said that,” Ken said looking around.

“I did,” said the duck.

“Ducks don’t talk,” Ken said staring at the disheveled creature that was smoothing his dark green and gray colored feathers.

“Well I do and I said wait a minute. You darn left-handers never can hit the ball straight.  I remember the last time you clobbered me with your nasty slice. You always seem to be shooting for a duck in one – don’t you believe in birdies?”

Ken stared at the duck in disbelief and wondered how in the world this duck was talking or if he was imaging the whole thing.

“I might as well go along with this, after all what have I got to lose, except my credibility if anyone ever found out about this. Ah, no one would ever believe this anyway,” Ken thought. “You mean you were the duck I hit over the moat yesterday,” he asked still questioning his sanity.

“You bet I was. Trying to stay out of your way is next to impossible.” The duck paused for a moment and shook his head still a little groggy from the blow. “I’ve been watching you play for the last few months. I think maybe your mind isn’t really on your golf game when you’re out here. You need to learn to concentrate on one thing at a time.”

Ken picked up his club and took a few practice swings. “I just can’t keep my mind on my game. I’m thinking about my problems at work. I manage the local racquet club, and we’ve had a couple of thefts from some of our desk employees’ office safe drawers. The trouble is we can’t prove the thief is who we suspect.”

“I can see how that might hurt your concentration. Concentration is crucial to your golf game. To start, try to get your motion timed properly. Try drawing your club straight back and pause at the top of your backswing before you shift your weight. You must be sure to concentrate on each part of your swing one step at a time during your execution.  Work on this and let me know how things are going when I return next Sunday.”

With that, the duck took off and flew toward the seventh hole moat, a home to many of the local feathered and scaled critters. Ken took a few more practice swings, carefully pausing at the top of his backswing before shifting his weight forward so as not to rush his stroke.

The rest of the round went better since Ken took his time during his swing. He finished his 18 holes in a much better state of mind, and without any major disasters on the course. Of course there was the sand trap on the 15th hole that kept him busy for a number of strokes.

That short par three should be an easy par if you miss the trap. Unfortunately, Ken rushed his tee shot and sent the ball sailing to the left of the green straight for the sand. Once in the sand, he picked out his sand wedge and began flailing away at the ball. Sand flew everywhere making the green look more like a beach. After five strokes in the trap, Ken remembered what the duck had said. Ken slowed down and on his next swing; he paused at the top of his backswing, shifted his weight forward and swung through the ball. Again sand flew onto the green, but this time, so did the ball.

“Maybe that duck did know what he was talking about, but I sure can’t tell anyone about this. They’d have me committed,” Ken said to himself. The round was over, and Ken felt relieved at the thought of just slowing down and taking things one step at a time.

The week passed by quickly. Sunday morning, just like every Sunday, Ken woke up early and prepared for his golf game. The sun had barely raised above the horizon when he arrived at the golf course. There was a slight breeze – just enough to be refreshing without affecting the flight of a golf ball. Certainly Ken couldn’t blame any errors on the wind.

As Ken prepared to tee off on the first hole, he looked around for the duck. Though it was early, there were birds singing in the trees lining the fairways. The sprinklers were on near the greens, but by the time he would be there, they would have shifted. Ken couldn’t see the duck anywhere around, so he addressed his ball. Slowly he drew his club back, paused at the top of his backswing, shifted his weight forward and hit a beautiful tee shot straight down the center of the fairway.

Pleased with himself, Ken started walking toward his ball. When he got to his ball, he checked his distance to the green, selected his club and addressed the ball. Alas, he rushed the shot and sent the ball sailing into a trap. Determined to stay calm, he took his sand wedge into the trap and stopped. Trying to follow the duck’s advice, he managed to get the ball out of the trap in one stroke and saved a bogey on the hole.

“Where’s that blasted duck,” he said to himself.

After about an hour, Ken was just about to tee off on the fifth hole when the duck flew up and landed on his ball knocking it off the tee.

“It’s about time you got here,” Ken said as he replaced his ball on the tee. “Where have you been?”

“That doesn’t matter,” said the duck. “I trust this morning hasn’t gone quite the way you had hoped.”

“No, not exactly. How did you know?”

“Well, we only fixed half of your problem. Have you been working on pacing yourself and forcing yourself to pause at the top of your backswing?”

“Yes, most of the time. When I would think about something else, I have trouble.”

The duck hopped off Ken’s golfbag where he had been standing since he knocked the ball off the tee and waddled over toward a nearby tree.

“Now you can see how important concentration is. When you are thinking about your golf game, you pause at the proper point in your swing and then you can set your timing and shift your weight at the right moment.”

“Yes, when I think about that pause, if I’ve brought the club back straight, my swing feels a lot more natural and fluid, and I do get better results.”

“I’m glad you can see that. Now we can tackle the other half of your problem – you do realize the same applies to your work.”

Ken took a practice swing then leaned on his club. “What do you mean,” he asked.

“You said last week that you’re experiencing some thefts from the office safe.”

“Yeah, so what?”

“Well, you said the problem was proving the person you suspect is actually your thief. If there is a pattern to when the cash has disappeared, then as in golf, timing is everything. You can try to set up a way to catch your suspect. All you need to do is alarm the office, making sure you do it in such a way so as not to alert anyone to anything out of the ordinary.”

Ken moved closer to the tree and poked at some of the leaves with his club. “Okay, we figured that much, but what does golf have to do with catching a thief?”

“In trying to perfect your swing, you don’t want to change too many things at the same time. You have to perfect one part of your swing at a time. To catch a thief, you can’t change too many things at once. If you do, your thief will figure out your plan. You have to make changes in such a subtle way so as not to alert anyone on your staff that anything out of the ordinary is happening.”

“I see what you mean,” said Ken. “What you’re saying is to alarm the office in such a way so as not to be too obvious.”

“Exactly ‘Watson’. You keep working on your golf game and your thief one step at a time, and I’ll see you in a few weeks”

Again the duck flew off to his home near the moat.

The following week at work, Ken placed a throw rug in front of the safe and let it stay there for a few weeks. He looked back over his records and discovered thefts had occurred each week sometime between Friday night and Monday morning since the weekend cash receipts were not deposited until Monday morning. The problem was that there were always three desk attendants on duty during the weekend shifts. Ken hoped his alarm would prove the attendant he suspected was actually the thief.

After the staff got used to the rug being in the office, he rigged a pressure sensitive alarm, which he made sure to set after closing every night. He also started going into the office in the morning to turn off the alarm before heading out to the golf course.

The alarm had been in place about a week when one Sunday night, someone set it off. Conveniently, the alarm, a silent alarm, had been set to alert the local police who were able to arrive at the club before the thief could escape and apprehended one of the Sunday desk attendants with over $10,000.00 in weekend cash receipts. The thief didn’t take the entire weekend’s earnings, but he still had a sizable portion of them on his person. The police phoned Ken with the news of the arrest and indeed it was the attendant whom Ken suspected. What a relief. Now maybe he could relax at work without suspecting everyone of wrongdoing. To be safe; however, Ken left the alarm in place to be sure no other employees had nefarious intentions.

One Sunday many weeks later, Ken arrived at the golf course. He was off bright and early as a single. After taking three practice swings, he hit his tee shot. He had been carefully working on each individual phase of his swing and perfected each in order before moving on. This way he was able to complete his entire swing in time. That was such a simple technique, he didn’t know why no one had mentioned it before the duck. In fact Ken should have thought the idea through years ago.

Ken approached the seventh hole moat. He hit a beautiful tee shot that arced over the moat and landed squarely on the green. After taking a “friendly” bounce, the ball rolled to a stop within a foot of the cup. It was then that the duck came out from behind the reeds on the far side of the green.

“I see you’ve got your stroke down nicely,” he said as he approached Ken.

“My golf game feels under control now and we’ve had no more thefts at work since we apprehended one of the Sunday desk attendants.” Ken glanced over at the reeds and thought for moment. “Now, do you think you could help me with my girlfriend?”

The duck stepped on Ken’s putter and stopped. “You have to concentrate on one thing at a time; remember, timing is everything….”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.