Shell Shocked: The golf pro from hell
I traveled recently to Los Angeles and had some time to kill. I googled a nearby golf course and booked a lesson with its head pro. What started out as a whim on my part turned out to be a punishment.
I should have known something was wrong when I first encountered him. He was wearing green khakis, army boots and an army hat. There was nothing golfish about him. He had a clipboard under one arm and a golf driver in the other.
He was studying the clipboard as he approached me. I said: “Excuse me, sergeant. I’m looking for the golf pro here. I booked a lesson with him. I believe his name is Otto.”
He stopped reviewing the clipboard and looked up at me. He gave me a long hard look as though he was evaluating how I would do as a recruit in basic training. I needed to dissuade him of that notion.
“Is Otto around?” I asked gingerly. That’s when reality slapped me hard across the face. He said: “I’m Otto and I’m going to give you a golf lesson you’ll never forget.”
I looked around. There wasn’t a person in sight. I asked myself if this was a prison camp rather than a golf course. I tried breaking the ice. “Nice to meet you, Otto. But judging from the outfit you’re wearing it looks like you’re going to give me a lesson in bungee jumping and not golf.” I laughed loud and hard thinking that Otto would at least crack a smile. He didn’t. He looked as if he was ready to crack a whip let alone a smile.
Otto said: “Never judge a book by its cover. It’s what’s inside of it that counts. That goes for golf, too.” I started to ask him what he meant by that but he led me to the practice range instead. He said: “Let’s see what you’ve got. I hope you’re not as bad as the last person I had. Right now he’s somewhere at the bottom of the fifth hole.” And Otto went into a piercingly high tenor hissy fit with nostrils flaring and mouth foaming. It was his way of laughing at what I hoped was a joke. I laughed along with hesitation and trepidation.
Otto put a driver in my hand. I should have mentioned that he was around six foot five with muscles everywhere including on his golf bag. I did a few practice swings with Otto’s eyes penetrating my swing. And then I hit a few balls. Each swing produced unenviable results. I shanked, I sliced, and I stunk.
That was when Otto faked his own death. He fell to the ground seemingly having a heart attack. But closer inspection indicated that he was laughing so hard that he couldn’t catch his breath. Either way he was going to die. He didn’t.
He got up slowly and wrote something on his clipboard. I couldn’t see what he was writing but in my heart I knew it was a swastika. I quickly determined that Otto was a Nazi golf pro. He was going to torture me to find out if I had any military secrets.
He grabbed the driver out of my hands. I thought he was going to place me on the ground and try for a human hole in one. Instead he said: “That was the worst swing I’ve ever seen. Who taught you how to play – Pee Wee Herman? You did everything wrong. It’s a good thing you signed up for an hour lesson because at the end of the hour you’re going to be able to hit a golf ball properly. But first we’ve got to get you in shape for golf. Give me fifty.”
I said: “Fifty what?”
Otto said: “Don’t play dumb with me, young man. Give me fifty pushups. That’ll strengthen your upper body so that the golf club will feel like a toothpick.”
I said: “But I haven’t done pushups in years. The most I could do is three or four.”
He made me do five. I was gasping for breath. I felt I couldn’t get up. But Otto grabbed me by the belt and pulled me up into a standing position. “Now give me a practice swing.” I did as I was told. He grimaced and stood behind me. He told me to prepare my backswing. As I turned my arms he grabbed them and pulled them further in the direction they were headed. He pulled them so far that I thought they would come out of their sockets and fall to the ground. I imagined having to explain to my friends that I lost my arms taking a golf lesson.
I was howling in pain as he exclaimed: “Now that’s the back swing you want. How can you expect the ball to get any distance unless you have a fuller swing? Practice this now.”
Just as my howling receded somewhat and I was confident that my arms were firmly attached to my body a young guy sauntered up to us in full golf attire. He stared for a moment and then asked me if I was here to take a golf lesson with Otto. The confusion on my face was apparent.
“But I thought this was Otto the golf pro I’m supposed to have my lesson with,” I said. The young man smiled and turned to the Nazi. “Bob you’ve crossed the line this time. You’re a dishwasher, not a golf pro.”
Otto/Bob, or whatever, wore a sheepish grin on his face. He said: “Otto you were late getting here so I thought I’d train this young man without you.”
The real Otto said: “Bob, you know nothing about golf. You can’t use your past as a drill sergeant in the Marines to teach someone how to play golf. You need to do what you do best – so go back to washing dishes. Get out of here.”
The real Otto turned to me to begin the real lesson but the real me did as the real Otto was suggesting – I hightailed it out of there, got on a real plane and never ever went back to that real golf course.