A GOLFER’S PRIDE by Calvin Atwood

As a young man, Bud Seasons turned down a promising acting career in the form of a multi-picture deal with a major studio in the heart of the Golden Age. Bud gave it all up for the game. You see, Bud was just one hell of a guy and everybody knew it. And with a touch of chill in the air, Bud certainly knew how to wear a pima cotton sweater vest. Always just a touch of that chilly air up in the hills of The San Fernando Valley. We weren’t in the flats, for Christ’s sake! Seasons leased a Mercedes full-size with an illegal tint job. After all, he’d given up everything to teach youngsters the game. 

     

The Valley View Country Club’s driving range was open to the general public, but the course itself was private. I guess when you’re a member you get to shake your fellow members’ hands when you see them at the car wash and wink at their teenage daughters, knowing full well that you’ll have to wait on that one. I visited this driving range with my former pal Mr. Erik Anders Lang, but I wish more than anything that we were  just hitting balls in The Hills of the Valley that day. I wish it were that simple. I wish I was that simple. I wish I was the sort of guy, like a Pat Sajack or Erik Anders Lang or even a Bud Seasons. The kind of guy who just hits golf balls in his spare time, just trying to blow off some steam. But, truth is, I’m a freeloader with a knack for avoiding employment. So for me it’s all spare time.  

And so I was, on that day, at the driving range with Mr. Erik Anders Lang. I didn’t really wanna go, but Erik said he’d pick me up, and sometimes I just needed to get away from my parasitic living situation. Just zoom out on the whole deal. The whole Locksley Scam. So Erik picked me up and we drove to the driving range and there he was, just a few T’s down: Mr. Pat Sajack and his teenage son. Sajack’s boy certainly had a beautiful swing, which pleased the father. As for that legendary game show host, he had a handsome smoker’s face, but don’t they all. 

As for me, I was hitting out of Erik’s bag because I don’t own clubs, at least not anymore. I sold mine on Craigslist for cafe money. Sold them to a clean-cut Arian in a big hurry in a little BMW coupe. A young up-and-comer fresh out of USC Law. He informed me that my clubs were fake Pings. Knockoffs as they say, but pretty good ones, he had to admit, so he made me a low-ball offer. What a guy he was. He was certainly in a big hurry. Had to get to the Lakers game. It was important to him that I know that. 

You never hit out of another man’s bag. The Sajacks know this. Bud Seasons sure as hell knows it. The Sajacks, Bud Seasons—these people have class, character really. I had no business on that driving range. Pulling clubs out of another man’s bag. I was only there because Erik Anders Lang, a pathological narcissist, couldn’t be alone. Erik also thought I had my own clubs. He didn’t think I’d be hitting out of his bag, for Christ’s sake! So he slipped me a few in the parking lot. He told me I could use them. 

“Hold on to them. Don’t lose them,” he said as he discretely pulled a few from his bag and handed them over. 

But now, now that we were on the driving range, I dismissed those clubs as inadequate. They didn’t feel right. They were giving me an uneasy feeling. You see, I wanted what Erik had. I wanted to get into that bag, so I started pulling clubs and he didn’t like it one bit. I had a strong aversion to the ones he’d attempted to loan me in the parking lot. He thought he’d remedied this situation by slipping me a few. He thought he was so clever with his quick fixes. I certainly proved him wrong.  

Erik tried to ignore me. Tried to make peace with my transgressions/violations and he was pulling it off. He was, I have to admit, hitting the ball pretty well. He was moving forward with his life and soon enough he’d be leaving me behind,. He’d find a new golfing buddy. Somebody who, unlike me, had a real commitment to the game. Somebody who wouldn’t just impulsively sell their clubs on Craigslist so he could hang out in a Moroccan-themed cafe for six hours a day, eating $2 apricots and ordering $9 pots of Russian Caravan tea. And so I abandon him right there on the range. I knew my just walking away like this might bring up all sorts of issues for Erik, old stuff. Simply put, I knew my walking away, despite Erik’s cocky little swagger, might very well trigger his abandonment terror, which would throw him into a full-blown panic attack. 

“Where ya headed?” he asked, trying to play it cool, midway through his backswing. 

“Oh, I don’t know,” I responded.

Then after watching his ball land just shy of that yellow flag, he turned back again, and we locked eyes. He was tearing up, but I couldn’t erase his past. I had my own life to live. 

I hit the snack bar where I inquired about tea. I asked about loose leaf but the cloudy-eyed Armenian just pointed to an orange box of Lipton. Hot water and lemon in hand, I hit the pro shop, where I inquired about drivers. 

“What’s your latest innovation for the long ball?” I asked the asst. pro manning the desk. 

The asst. pro assigned tee times and took calls, a real king maker. Of course he wasn’t interested in shop talk or long ball talk with a guy like me. He just pointed to a half-dozen dusty clubs in the corner. 

Then I was back on the driving range. Erik tried to play it cool like he wasn’t relieved to see me. He’d even graduated from chipping to driving. He was putting on one hell of a show with that driver of his. Even Bud and the Sajacks couldn’t help but look down the way. As for Bud Seasons, upon witnessing the beauty of Erik’s swing, he coughed, shook his head, and untucked that pima cotton vest. He wasn’t shy about getting a real deep tuck in, but now, suddenly sensing that he was getting shown-up, little Sajack Jr., Pat’s boy, couldn’t do anything right. He was slicing this and chopping that. He was embarrassing his father. Pat had put close to 500K into Jr.’s swing. So he gave his son’s private instructor the nod and Seasons moved right in. 

He grabbed the boy by the elbow and yanked him off the mat, but that’s where the rough stuff ended. He didn’t have time for a full swing rebuild. He had a full roster of clients, 99% of whom were the children of A-listers. So he just gave Jr. a no-nonsense pep talk with a life-affirming theme. A little sugar on that pepper as he liked to say, but that son of a game show millionaire wasn’t having it. You see, those Sajacks run hot, and Jr. was no exception. Post-pep talk, Jr. returned to the tee club in hand, but he still insisted on doing things his way. 

Of course he couldn’t even get the ball off the tee and then he lost it. Little bastard snapped a custom one-wood right over his knee. Clearly, Erik Anders Lang was getting in his head, and I wasn’t surprised. I’d seen the heavy burden Erik could put on a pair of white cotton briefs. I could only imagine what those beautiful long balls, all about 300 yards right down the middle, were doing to Little Sajack’s psyche. Erik had at least five inches on either Sajack (some call it the Irish Curse). 

God only knows what Seasons was packing beneath those glossy white spandex boxer briefs. You see, everybody in LA has their preoccupations and nobody was shy about it. During our very first conversation, Erik told me that he liked his blow jobs fast, and he once fucked a hooker in a Detroit airport bathroom. But he was just drawing contrast. He wanted me to know how far he’d come/how much he’d grown. That was years ago, dark days for Erik, early sobriety, before Erik really worked the steps, all twelve, with a Westside sponsor and his personal assistant. That was before Erik got caught by Tom Petty’s daughter sneaking into the hot springs at Esalen beneath cover of night. She didn’t know what she was getting into. He let her off easy. What a guy Erik was. He was from New Jersey after all, loved talking about Jersey like he was Springsteen, but his father owned 1/64 of Apple, got in early. 

I was ready to get back to Locksley, back to my rent-free situation. I needed to shower up before hitting the Moroccan cafe. I was craving a $9 pot of tea. 


Calvin Atwood has published stories and poems at Expatpress, ForeverMagazine, Artillery Magazine, Foundations and Misery Tourism amongother places. He's currently working on a novel about George W. Bush. Helives in Brooklyn and has his MFA from Columbia University.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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