A Year in Review….In the Rough

23.  Teach my son to golf

My son, Snugs McNugget….(why yes, that’s his real name, why do you ask)?….is four turning five in a couple of months.  When he was three, we bought him his first set of real clubs that came with a driver, an iron and a putter and he loved to practice in the yard and at the driving range.  I also managed to get him out for nine holes, best ball style, on a course in Maine one weekday afternoon when the crowds were light.  I was surprised by how focused he was as we played, so I was looking forward to getting him out a bit more this past spring and summer.

Four years old though is generally considered too young to be on most courses, so it’s not always easy to find a place that will allow us to play.  I get it.  Pace of play during the peak golf season is important and most of the courses in the Boston area rarely allow a twosome to go out without being paired up with another group….and no one wants to spend $60.00 to play golf with a mom trying to teach her excited toddler the basics of golf etiquette.  But, there is one course in our area that is open to anyone who has a set of clubs and feels like knocking a ball around.

It’s a nine-hole, par three, municipal course tucked behind an ice skating rink.  It runs parallel to a highway, but there are enough woods to shield the noise of the passing cars and provide some anonymity should you shank one onto the interstate.  It’s a great place to play for beginners.

The course has a reputation for being a friendly and laid back environment where hackers can come out and hone their skills without ridicule and better players can take their time working out issues with clubs.  It costs $10.00 to play, so you aren’t going to find pristine tee boxes and lush fairways, but it’s in remarkably good shape for the most part.

I took Snugs out a number of times in the early part of the season and we worked a bit on his grip and stance and discussed the general rules of play.  One afternoon, my husband, Clark Griswold (real name….I swear) suggested we take Snugs and my two step-children, Rusty and Audrey, (yeah, those are their real names too), out for a round as they’ve been learning to play as well.

Four holes in, Snugs said he needed to use the bathroom.  I spend a lot of time hiking with him, so he’s accustomed to locating a discrete tree and taking care of business.  He was delighted to learn the same rules applied to the golf course.

When we reached the tee box for the ninth hole, which sits high up on a hill overlooking the club house and parking lot, Snugs said he needed to use the bathroom again.  I instructed him go behind a large blue trash barrel and aim in the direction of the wood line     while his siblings took their shots.

As I was helping Audrey adjust the height of her tee, I could still see Snugs.  He was near the trash barrel as instructed, but the part I thought would be aimed at the wood line, was instead pointing in our direction.  Before I could fully process what was happening, he bent his knees ever so slightly and as the word, “No!”  was coming out of my mouth, he pooped.  It was a giant turd that landed directly in his underwear.

I must have scared the crap out of him….literally….because another turd followed soon after, bouncing off the first and dropping into his pant leg.

“What Mommy?  What’s wrong?”  he asked, confused by my reaction.

Of course, everyone else was laughing and it didn’t take long before I was laughing too.  Poor Snugs though, he still had no idea what the problem was….other than the load in his underwear….which he was not happy about.  In his mind, if he could pee outside, why not also poop and why hadn’t it gone more smoothly?

I had failed, as his mother, to teach him the art of the squat.  I had also failed to distinguish for him the acceptability of an outdoor #1 vs. an outdoor #2….specifically, as it relates to golf course protocol.  So, it was all my fault.

Of course, we didn’t have any toilet paper or anything else that could be used to clean up the mess….other than a couple of dirty golf towels….and it seemed so déclassé to use one of those….so I did what anyone would do in this situation….I grabbed a large leaf and proceeded to use it to scoop the turd from his underwear and toss it into the woods.  Then, I lifted him up while Clark shook his pant leg to free the other turd, which I also retrieved and threw into the woods.

“OK,”  I said, we’ll have to get you home and clean you up.”  

“No!  I want to finish the game!”  Snugs protested.

My kid is committed!  Am I right?

“I know buddy.”  I said, giving him a squeeze….a light one just in case he had another in the chamber….“We’ll play again, I promise.”  

As I said this, I glanced in the direction of the clubhouse hoping they hadn’t been down there with a set of binoculars watching the scene unfold and waiting to inform us that we had been banned from the establishment.  But, we escaped to our car and the clubhouse staff was either none the wiser, or it wasn’t the worst thing that had ever happened there.

On the way home, I took advantage of the teachable moment to explain the do’s and don’ts of relieving ones-self in the outdoors.  For good measure, I carried a small package of tissue paper and a few poo bags in my golf bag for the rest of the season….just in case.

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