|Ernie Els holds up the Claret Jug after backing into the British Open championship on Sunday.|
A few minutes later Howie appeared.
"What's going on, my man?" I asked him as I pulled my bike over near the caddy pen. Howie's face was covered with lipstick and his neck full of hickies. He glanced at me and began to open up the cart shack doors; he was kind of hang-dog like and wouldn't look at me, apparently embarrassed that I had seen Tom Cook's mom coming out of the cart shack at 6:30 on a Monday morning. Howie and I have known each other for a long time.
"Must of been a hell of a night!" I said as I walked past the pro shop toward the cart shack where the coffee was.
Howie still didn't say anything. He just began pulling out carts for the country club's afternoon golf outing. That was my cue to head to the back of the cart shack and put on the coffee pot. A few minutes later Howie finally appeared in the coffee area. I was already sitting down sipping my coffee.
"Not a word about Donna!" he said as he held his right hand up in a stop motion.
"Who's Donna?" I asked. I had already forgotten the forty-ish red-head I had seen in the parking lot.
"The waitress you saw leaving my apartment," Howie answered as he walked over to grab a cup of java. "You know, Donna, the waitress?!"
"Oh, I just know her as Tom Cook's mom," I said. "Hey, at least you're not bopping members' wives like the last assistant pro did. That's a one-way ticket to unemployment."
Howie frowned, coughed, and looked away, not saying anything.
"Hey, Howie," I said, changing the subject, "how did "The British Open" ever become 'The Open Championship'?"
"What do you mean?" Howie asked.
"You know, we all refer to yesterday's golf tournament as 'The British Open,' but the announcers and advertisements all call it 'The Open Championship,'" I said. "How did that happen?"
"You're Irish," Howie responded, "you know how arrogant those English are. They invented golf so they think by calling the tournament 'The Open Championship' instead of 'The British Open' that they are making their tournament the only open golf tournament." Howie sat down and actually looked at me for the first time. He had washed his face and covered up his neck with a turtle-neck. He looked human again.
"What about the U.S. Open and the Canadian Open?" I asked. "Isn't the U.S. Open just as important as the British Open?
"To an American, the U.S. Open is the most important golf tournament," Howie said. "You remember when Kenny Pinns was a member here how the club used the fact that he had played in a U.S. Open as a way to get new members. Those British snobs are just trying to lord it over the rest of the golf world by calling their tournament 'The Open Championship.'"
"I think it's confusing," I said. "But at least I didn't have to listen to Mike Tirico, Curtis Strange, and Paul Azinger yesterday."
"How'd you avoid them?" Howie asked.
"DirecTV had a channel with international coverage so I watched that. Peter Alliss was on there, and I can't understand him because his British accent is so thick. It was great. But Nick Faldo came on about half way through so I had to turn off the sound."
"You're just in love with Johnny Miller and Roger Maltbie!" Howie said as he laughed heartily. "I like Strange. But nobody likes Tirico or Azinger. The problem is that ABC only broadcasts a limited number of tournaments each year so they're not as good as NBC or CBS. Nobody saw the end anyway," Howie said.
"Why not?" I asked.
"When Tiger got that triple-bogey seven on the sixth hole, millions of television sets went off around the world."
"Mine didn't," I said.
"I'll bet you fell asleep in front of the television," Howie said with a gleam in his eye.
"Well, I did miss Adam Scott bogeying 15, 16, and 17, but I saw his last putt on 18," I said sheepishly.
"See, I told you," Howie laughed. "Golf's television ratings depend on how well Tiger does in a tournament. When he flops, the ratings go in the toilet. What it shows is how weak the PGA tour is. If it wasn't for Tiger, the men's tour would be in as sad a shape as the women's tour is. When was the last time you watched a LPGA event or even saw one on TV?"
"Uh, not lately," I said. "But don't viewers hate Tiger after what he did with the porn stars?"
"Nobody talks about it!" Howie said. "The network commentators never say a word about the golden showers and the porn stars. You'll hear a reference to Tiger's wife Elin taking the three-iron to him once in a while, but that's it! They're trying to protect Tiger and the TV ratings so nothing is said!"
"You should be on TV, Howie," I said. "You know all the inside dope!"
Suddenly we heard a noise in the front of the cart shack, and Shannon, the wife of one of the members appeared.
"Oh, Howie, I was looking all over for you," Shannon said in this Marilyn Monroe voice. "The pro shop is locked, and I need to find out when my new golf cart is going to be delivered. Do you know? You said you would bring the cart over when it came in. Don't you remember that? Is the cart here?"
She put her hand on Howie's shoulder and leaned down so her ta ta's were exposed to Howie's gaze alone. I was completely ignored.
"Let me check on that, Mrs. J.," Howie said as he got up, walked to the pro shop, and unlocked the door. Shannon followed him inside.
"I'm getting the hell out of here," I thought to myself as I headed toward the caddy pen and my bike. As I was riding down the country club driveway, a '68 blue Chevy turned in.
"There's going to be a hot time in the old pro shop this morning," I thought as I pedaled down Riverside Drive to Lake Avenue.
Hope Howie is still employed for next week's coffee klatsch.