Vegas, Baby (Part 2) “Fore!”

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Last week I began to regal you with tales from my spur-of-the-moment blast-off to Las Vegas with a friend for some R-and-R…well, despite the fact that we were really only there for two full days, we managed to have some very interesting adventures. As I started writing this segment, I realized that this actually has the makings of three blogs.  A personal record for a 72 hour vacation.

Day Two (the first full day) found us thinking we should go to the driving range and see how well we could still hit that little (frustrating) white ball. My friend is one of these naturally athletic people who could just decide to play golf one day, take two lessons and a month later be shooting below par at Torrey Pines. I, on the other hand, after years of lessons, several changes/upgrades of equipment and innumerable mutterings of “I’ll-pick-my-ball-up-so-we-can-play-on”…well, I still really suck.

It was a beautiful day in the desert. We headed over (once again with my pal’s GPS giving us basically all the wrong turns) to the Golf Center nearest THEhotel. Opting for a medium bucket of balls, I found the first challenge was getting them out of the machine. You purchased a pin code at the reception desk, went over to a machine, punched in the pin code and voila! out came the balls into the bucket. Well, I’d had my nails done right before we left and I once again dozed off and forgot to tell my lovely lady that I needed to have them much shorter, so I was sporting Dragon Lady spikes off the edges of my fingers. This skewed my aim at the buttons. Every single time I punched a key it never hit the right number. I was more than a little embarrassed since while I fumbled, a crowd of about four golfers were in line waiting to retrieve theirs. All I could think of was “I even suck at getting the balls out of a dispenser. How will I ever hit them?”

We’d brought a limited number of clubs (especially since the bag I own outdoes the Rodney Dangerfield monster toted in the movie Caddyshack!) and I elected to start with my driver. It’s been about two years since I’ve held a club in my chubby little hands. I took a couple of practice swings, using what little peripheral vision I had to see if anyone was looking, tried to remember everything I  was supposed to: left arm positioned correctly, head down, feet planted, then nice and easy and smoooooooth … etc.

First time…as they say in baseball: “Oh, a swing and a miss! Strike one!”

Second time…topped it, it popped off the rubber tee, made a god-awful noise as it bounced across the metal roof covering the lower level driving range tees and plopped over the edge, no doubt almost hitting some poor unsuspecting golfer below.

Third time…the charm! I did everything right and much to my complete shock and amazement, it made that wonderful “schwack” noise and sailed off about 100 yards onto the practice green. Wow, that felt good. Set up again, same result. I wish I could say I had some idea of what it was I was doing right but I don’t. Schwack, schwack, schwack. One right after the other…off into the range, rivaling some of the men hitting nearby. I felt insanely giddy. I could still hit the ball!

We decided to play a round. Oh, boy.

At the first tee someone came up behind us to wait their turn.  We offered to let them go ahead since we knew we’d be slower since neither of us had played in awhile. Correction: We knew that I would be slower. They declined. They sat in their cart about 15′ behind the tee and committed the folly of all follies when near me. They watched me.

First time: Hit behind the ball, sending a chunk of grass into the atmosphere.

Second time: Completely missed as I almost fell off the tee box and rolled down the hill after the ball.

Third time: This time there was no “charm”…I topped it and it just dribbled off the tee and down the slight incline from the ladies’ tee where it came to rest a whopping six feet from where I stood. Close enough for me to grab it, pocket it and say to my buddy “I’m picking up.” (Already? it was the first tee of the first hole? Yes.)

The rest of the game the following golfers acted like spies. They would creep up beind us ever so quietly and slowly so I wouldn’t hear them coming up and then hide behind trees or a hill on the cart path so as not to make me nervous. They would have been great snipers…except I always  knew they were there. Always.

I finally became less self-concious and actually hit a few balls a bit of a distance. Mostly I just took it and dropped it a few yards off the green and practiced pitching and putting.

A word about this golf course. Concentration is a good part of the game. We were about a quarter of a mile from the airport. Every three minutes a jet would take off and fly at a scary low altitude directly over our heads. Passengers actually waved at us from the windows of the planes. It was not only distracting, but deafening. (Note: I’ve posted a link to a video of part of the experience at the end of the blog.)  It explained a lot why we could play unlimited rounds of golf from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., hit unlimited buckets of balls and have a cart for the whole day for the ridiculous sum of $27. Not to mention that the entire course was mostly dirt. There was some grass in the tee box, then the next 75-100 yards was dirt. Not seeded, not sand, just dirt. Then there was a small area of a sort of fairway around the green and the green itself. 

I always say one of the reasons I like golf is because God doesn’t make ugly golf courses. The Good Lord had an off day when He created this one in Vegas.

When we got back to the clubhouse the young man unloading our bags asked how we’d done. My friend explained that she really needed a different club than what she’d brought since she consistently overshot the green.

I explained I would have played better but I forgot to bring my #11 dirt club and earplugs. He was not amused.

As promised last week, the last part of the Trip Trilogy will describe our mixing with the Latin Grammy stars, our attempt to shoot firearms at The Gun Store, finding the “Pawn Stars” and lastly but not least, our scary venture just after dark into the wilds of the edges of town in search of…are you ready for it? Vodka. After the lamb dinner fiasco, we were not paying $9. an ounce for the little guys stocked in the mini bar or $10. or more at the bar downstairs. Lord knows, we needed a drink or two after dodging airplanes and my golf balls for several hours.

Here’s the YouTube link for the golf video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNwlg2pbg3w&feature=autoplay&list=ULbNwlg2pbg3w&lf=mfu_in_order&playnext=1

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