“What’s that noise?”
That’s the question my playing partner asked following my 2nd shot on a Par 5 hole. After a good drive off the tee, I had pulled out my 3-Wood to make an earnest attempt to get to the green in two. Don’t laugh. It occasionally happens. My playing partner that day knew something didn’t sound right; “I heard something.” Shaking my 3 wood, one could hear a rattle. I asked, “Is this what you heard?”
This same scene repeats itself anytime I play with someone for the first time. So when the inevitable question is asked, I just smile and opine, “Man, do I have a story for you.” And this is what I tell him:
In August 2006, the McElhannons and Cassidy held a reunion of sorts. My good friend Fred Cassidy has four adult children, and I have five. His oldest son Jason invited both families to spend the day at his home near Clemson, SC and reminisce old memories. The four Cassidy kids literally grew up with the five McElhannon kids. In 2006, they were all in their 20’s and 30’s, and a reunion sounded like a great idea. Jason suggested we bring our golf clubs so that once everyone arrived, the guys could go to a nearby course and play a nine-hole tournament. My youngest daughter, Mari, who was living in Tallahassee, Florida, asked if it was ok to bring her new boyfriend, John. When it came time for the guys to play our nine-hole tournament, I invited John to join us and offered for him to just play out of my bag. Golf, I had discovered, is a great way to get to know my daughters’ suitors.
Off we went, Fred with two of his sons, and I with my two sons, along with a McElhannon wanna-be named John. John proved to be a hacker. He swung hard – on every shot. He even hit the ball a few times. Then we came to the first par 5. On the second shot of the first Par 5 hole, we all pulled out our 3-Woods. After everyone had taken a shot, I handed my 3-Wood to John for him to make his shot. Rearing back, he swung as hard as he could. There might have even been a grunt involved. Unfortunately, the ball only trickled down the fairway about 50 feet. Yet our eyes became fixated upon an object flying right behind the ball. It was the club-head of my 3-Wood! Standing quite bewildered, John, now holding the head-less shaft to my 3-Wood, muttered something to the effect of, “What just happened?”
My sons were rolling with laughter. I made a vain attempt to keep my composure, but the look on the face of Mari’s boyfriend was one of abject horror. Here was this young man, meeting Mari’s family for the first time, and he utterly destroys her father’s 3-Wood. It was priceless. (Not the 3-Wood, just the moment.) He profusely apologized and offered to replace it, but I told him not to worry as I expected the TaylorMade Golf Company would repair the club for free. (And they did).
Fast forward a few weeks. Playing with my newly repaired 3-Wood, I heard a clink when the club-head hit the ball for the first time. Apparently, hardened glue at the end of the repaired shaft broke off inside the club-head. Thereafter, every time I swung my 3-Wood a distinct rattle reverberated across the tee box. Initially annoying, I soon became accustomed to the noise. Besides, with each swing, it served as a reminder of a summer afternoon in South Carolina when a young man left a most memorable impression upon Mari’s father.
For several years after that, when I played with someone for the first time, and I pulled my 3-Wood from my bag, I shook the club and asked my playing partner, “do you hear that?….Let me tell you a story…………..”
Soon after the 3-Wood debacle, Mari broke up with John. I am sure it had nothing to do with what he did to my 3-Wood. But I must admit, the rest of my clubs breathed a sigh of relief.
A few years later, she started dating a young man named Andrew. We occasionally played golf together. He has never asked to borrow my 3-Wood. They have been married now for eight years. Coincidence?