Friday Night Fights
“Its good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling.” – Mark Twain
Golf is the Royal and Ancient game and is supposed to be played by gentlemen. Apparently even gentlemen can get annoyed, or shall we say mad, when playing this game. Yes, it is frustrating and often there are financial wagers placed on the game. Not to mention that a poorly struck shot can really raise anger, to the point of breaking clubs, throwing clubs etc. (more on that later). It is actually rare that two or more players decide to take out their anger on another player but it happens.
Working the last shift as a marshal can be pretty boring, basically you are one of the few people left on the golf course and the ones left playing have started late and want to get finished. This means that the golfers have less respect for the course and try to get away with the small rule violations, like driving on the fairways when it is cart path only. Many are just in a hurry to get finished and a significant group of others are just ready for another beer and the next hole. This can create a pace of play situation where one group, say the group in front, wants to relax, imbibe and take their time and the group behind wants to play quickly. Late one Friday night in July I was the late shift marshal. I came around the course to find two foursomes very close together; in fact a couple of the players were actually touching each other. Well, let me say that another way. They were fighting.
This was an amazing event to see. In fact it looked like a hockey game. Player one, we will call him Bob, had managed to get a good hold on player two, we will call him Frank. Bob had pulled Frank’s golf shirt over Frank’s head, tearing it as he did so and was proceeding to apply a series of body and face punches to Frank. Frank was in a bad situation but was doing a good job of counter punching blindly in the direction of Bob. Usually one plays golf with friends and so the other members of these two groups were starting to get involved in the affair. Good sense and experience teaches that when two people are fighting the best thing to do is let them finish, which usually doesn’t take long, and then go in and sort things out. This was the tactic I had decided to employ until I noticed one of the other players grabbing a club and heading toward the fight with the look of knocking someone in the head with the club. That would not be a good thing and I drove my marshal cart into the foray. I was successful at cutting off the club attacker and, as expected both Bob and Frank had enough of the fight by that time so I could go over and restore order.
Here’s how it went. Marshal, “Gentlemen, seems like we are a little upset, what happened?” Bob, “These guys hit into us off the last tee and didn’t even yell fore.” Frank, wiping some blood off his face, “That’s right, they are playing way too slow and won’t let us through, they may want to drink but we want to play golf, anyway we didn’t hit anyone.” Bob, “Yeah, you couldn’t hit a barn door from five feet and we would have let you through!” Marshal, “Ok, what happened next?” Bob, “I went over and picked up his golf ball.” Frank, “Yeah, and I came up and asked for the ball back and he wouldn’t give it to me, he said he was going to keep it.” Bob, “That’s when he went over to my golf bag, unzipped it and started taking my golf balls out of the bag. That’s stealing and I grabbed him and pulled his shirt up and let him have it.”
I had heard enough. “Ok, gentlemen. Golf is a gentlemen’s game and does not include fighting. Now, please act like gentlemen, shake hands and think about playing as gentlemen the next time you come to the golf course. As for today, your round is finished and it is time to go back to the clubhouse and on home for the evening.” Not totally happy both agreed and headed home.