The guy is unbelievable. Had the pleasure of playing golf with the man this weekend. Just so happens it was him, me, and 10 other guys from my neighborhood, spread out over 3 tee times. Playing in a tournament. (Put a pin in that one.)
First off, all the tee times were early in the morning. The first one was at 6:30 with the next two following in 9 minute intervals. And the course was about an hour away from both of us. I texted him the day before about the tee-off times. He confirmed he’d show up.
Now I’ve been down this road before. Not just with Doan. In general, with early morning golf, and the friends I’ve run with. Getting everyone up and present for an early morning tee time is far from a sure thing. It’s a 50/50 shot, no matter how strongly committed everyone is right up until the morning in question. I knew that going in.
Doan and I have tried to play early morning golf exactly three times since I moved down here, all were two man scramble tournaments. The first one he overslept and didn’t show up, the second was rained out, and the third didn’t have enough entries for it to take place. I reminded him of all those things the night before, along with mentioning we haven’t played together in over a year. The icing on the cake was I only knew 4 or 5 of the guys we were playing with, and none of them well. Doan was our 12th guy that I vouched for, so him showing up would be ideal.
I woke up about 4:30 in the morning, got everything ready and organized. Headed over to my neighbors house and jumped in with him around 5:15 to head to the course. I considered calling Doan, several times, but I kept thinking that’s being too much of a babysitter, so I settled on texting him, just once. Good morning sir. You gonna make it?
We start driving towards the course. 15 minutes went by. More Silence. About a half hour later I got a text chime. Just woke up heading there in about 10…fell asleep before setting an alarm last night glad I woke up. Hoping to make it by the last tee time…GPS ETA 6:48. Exactly how it was written. 6:48 just so happened to be the exact tee time for the last group.
An instant classic. And typical Doan. Just flying around by the seat of his pants. Making every single thing in his life work, with plenty of comments along the way.
So getting back to this tournament.
I was asked by my neighbor if I wanted to play golf with him a week or so ahead of time. A few days later I was told that it’d be with several people from the block, with a few relatives thrown in here or there, maybe 10-12 guys. Then a day or two later I was told the course was an hour away. All of this was fine. None of it bothered me.
The day before we were set to go, I got a text from a group chat that included my neighbor and 8 other number’s I didn’t recognize. The text said we had 11 confirmed players, and one cancellation. I reached out to my neighbor to offer to possibly add a 12th if needed. I told him I have a buddy that might be able to come on late notice. I asked him if he wanted me to reach out. He told me to go ahead and ask him. Doan confirmed he could go and we were set.
About an hour later that day, I got a message on the group chat…I need everyone’s first and last names and their estimated handicaps…I’m thinking, what the hell? For several reasons. The first being I have only a moderate understanding of the handicap system in golf. I get the first part of its concept, the second part confuses me. I have no idea how to compute the formula that combines the handicap of the player versus the handicap of the hole. And I doubt I’ll ever be good enough at golf to give a shit about it. But the main reason I was thinking what the hell is because it’s usually only a question that gets asked if you are playing in something competitive. I’ve never had to use a golf handicap in my life. I’ve been in a couple bowling leagues where we had to use them, but I’ve never had to use handicaps in anything friendly, or even anything for money, with my buddies. Ever. (I mean, give me a stroke here, or I’ll give you a stroke there, but c’mon, ultimately let’s just see who the fuck’s better at the end of the day, what the hell are we doing out here if not?, ya know.)
Meanwhile I texted Doan and asked him what his handicap was. He said 12-15 but he hadn’t played in awhile. Seeing as how I hadn’t played since August myself, I bumped it up a little bit for both of us. I texted the group back that we were both 15-18. Turns out I wasn’t even close. On either of us.
When we got to the course in the morning, after a lot of meet-and greets, I started hearing a few of the guys asking why we needed handicaps. I guess I wasn’t the only one curious about that. Then one of the guys piped up with a ‘oh yeah, he’s doing a whole big tournament today…closest to the pins, longest drive, and everything…’
That’s the first I had heard about it.
So now we’re getting organized, and I’m walking around timidly trying to find the leader of this little excursion, telling anyone who will listen…’yeah my buddy John said he’s running a little late, if he and I could get put in the last group that’d probably be best…etc,’ hoping one of the guys who hears me ends up being the organizer of this thing. I was told, in some form, 3 or 4 times, ‘okay, well I’m not in charge but I’m sure that’ll be fine.’ By varying guys I didn’t know.
Of course the only guy I failed to mention this to, and hadn’t met yet, piped up a few minutes later with a, “Okay guys, bring it in, I’m gonna go over all this with you and then we’ll get started..” He goes over a couple of the things I’ve already mentioned. Then he starts naming off the groups and the pairings and who’s teeing off and when. Of course John and I are scheduled to be teeing off in the first group. So now I gotta cut this guy off in the middle of his little spiel. During one of his pauses I butted-in, and told him John is running late and he should hopefully get here by the last tee time…etc. If it’s not too much trouble…
The Guy winced a little bit, turned his head about a quarter of the way back with a chagrin, breathed a little harder, but quickly recovered and said he’d make that work, never changing the tone of his announcements voice, as he blew past my interruption and moved into the next item on his agenda…Which was telling us this tournament had no money involved. It was just for bragging rights. The only thing at stake was the worst overall team would have to buy the best overall team a beer at the end of the round. I’m thinking, Okay great. Pressure’s off. I don’t think Doan and I need to worry about being on either end of that scenario. And it looks like everyone’s just here to have a good time.
After that I sat in a cart by myself, waiting patiently in the parking lot, while the rest of the group headed to the number one tee box. Twenty minutes later Doan pulls up in his truck, his tailgate overloaded with barrels of paint and roofing supplies bouncing around in back. He gets out, looking like someone just dragged him out of the mountains, and gives me a Hey Hawks, with a big grin on his face, and starts loading up his clubs in the cart. Any adult beverages on board? The sound of zippers going up and down a constant in the background, as he gets his shoes, his weed, and his music speakers out of his bag to prep for our round.
We get up to the 1st hole just as the group in front of us had finished teeing off. Couldn’t have timed it better eh? He says in a way only Doan can. Him having no idea what I had just been through in the past hour or so, awkwardly getting all this shit to work out. We both introduced ourselves to the guys we were playing with. Turns out one of the guys we played with lives 8 houses down from me, with twin 3 year old boys, so I’m sure it won’t be the last time I’ll see him. The other was his brother. I wasn’t sure the ages of those guys, but they looked, and it felt like, they were significantly older. Looking back though, I doubt it. Law of averages dictate we would have to be close to around the same age.
Immediately after introductions I start in with the story of my shirt. I Didn’t wait for anyone to ask, knew it was coming and just dove right in this time. Yes. My name is Jordan. Yes. My shirt says my name is Bob. Just a shirt I wear on special occasions. Yes. I’m wearing crocs, and yes, I’ll be wearing them the whole round. Thanks.
After we all teed off on hole one, Doan and I fell into our old rhythm we became accustomed to when I first moved down here in 2015. Back then we’d play a few times a week together. And whenever we were joined by another group it was always a show.
And let’s call a spade a spade here…It’s mostly always the John Doan show…
The guy bombs the ball off every tee, bumps Tom Petty, The Eagles, Hall & Oates, Dire Straits, Bob Marley, Tupac, and Dr. Dre music at an unreasonable volume the whole round. He drinks beer, (well this time white claws) smokes weed, and has the most perfectly timed comments that somehow manage to reign sarcastic, cynical, humorous, and true all at the same time. And his mannerisms and facial expressions remind me of Kevin Durant.
He carried all that SWAG into this tournament, of which the format was best ball. Meaning each two players in a cart are on a team. Taking the best score of the two from each hole and using it.
And Doan was on fire. Before I even hit a passable golf shot he was 1 under after 2. The tournament format gave us all one mulligan per 9 holes off the tee. He forgot all about it. Never came into play for him.
His comments to the guys we were playing with were as well timed as ever. He played all the hits…You’ll like where that ends up. Get up with the get down. Oh, I know that sound. Members bounce, why pay the fees when you get the bounces for free? Left a little meat on that bone...along with plenty of others. And his overall voice tone, while extreme and obviously sarcastic to me, came off as caring and compassionate to the guys we played with. If I had a dollar for every time I shoot my head in laughter, the round would’ve been free.
Of course I’d throw in a comment here or there myself, but who’s counting.
Meanwhile he played some pretty damn good golf too. He shot 41, 42, on one of the toughest courses I’ve ever played. Called The Tour 18. I shot 59, 47, just to put things in perspective. Doan had 4 double bogeys on the day. It just so happened I was able to make two pars and two bogeys on those holes to pick up some of the slack. Otherwise we literally used all of his scores on every other hole. 14 of 18.
As we got done around noon, Doan really wanted to play another 18. He kept saying noon was like 4pm to him because we had started so early. I told him the only way I could do it would be if all of the guys there who lived in my neighborhood stayed, thus leaving me without a ride home. I said this to him in a tone that sort of meant there’s no way all of this married guys, with wives and kids at home, are gonna stick around for another 18 on a whim. That’s just not gonna happen.
But Doan wasn’t gonna let it die. He had tentatively got the two guys we were playing with to agree, saying they’d stay if everyone else did. He was marching into the lobby where the rest of our group was sitting with the intention of going to work on all of the guys when he stopped at the clubhouse to inquire about tee time availability. Turns out there were no other tee times open till 4. So he hit the breaks. I would have loved to see how it played out had there been some availability. I would’ve just sat in the corner, watched, and laughed as he went around the room doing his salesman pitch thing on all these guys he didn’t even know to stay and play another 18.
As a result of this end of the round activity, we were the last team to turn our scorecards in to the leader guy for the final results. He then added up our card in front of the entire group. Before he started Doan and I both told him we got John’s handicap wrong. I took the blame. I told him Doan told me 12-15 but I said 15-18. The guy agreed and we settled on 13 as his number.
It didn’t seem to matter much, as John and I won the tournament by a wide margin. Thanks to him. Adding insult to injury, one of the only 4 or 5 good shots I hit all day earned me the closest to the pin honors. So we took that home as well.
The two guys that finished dead last came over and congratulated us and asked what we wanted to drink. Doan got himself another white claw, and I indulged in a bud light bottle. My first beer of the day. (Probably why I played so bad, sometimes you gotta knock back one or two during the round to calm the nerves) These two guys didn’t seem to mind us winning. As one of the guys put it, we played so bad we were gonna have to buy someone a drink anyway.
But everyone else, oddly, seemed a little put off by our victory. At first I thought I was overthinking things or just being paranoid. I was gonna put it out of my mind. But then Doan leaned over to quietly tell me, Geez, we don’t need to be made to feel guilty for winning the thing. At that point I knew what I was feeling about the situation was legit. Because Doan is usually a guy who either doesn’t notice, or notices and just doesn’t care, in those kind of situations. The fact that he said something made it real.
The leader went through our scorecard three different times, outwardly amazed at several things he saw. Doan birdied three holes, and apparently two of the three netted us more points than just the birdie itself. (I told you I don’t understand the handicaps) Meanwhile he couldn’t get over the fact that the only four holes I had decent scores on were the 4 holes Doan doubled. He kept broadcasting that to everyone. Then he started asking the guys we played with if Doan really played that well, and if they witnessed my closest to the pin shot. It got sort of uncomfortable there for awhile.
There was even a discussion between the leader guy and Doan at one point that I’d stop short of calling heated, but was definitely contentious, featuring two guys firmly dug in on their stance. It ended with Doan saying I shot 83, which is two shots better than my handicap, am I not allowed to play good and have a good round? The guy either agreed or decided it wasn’t worth anymore commentary at that point.
The final announcement was the next time they had this tournament it would be for money and that everyone would get to pick their teammate. So clearly there were some hard feelings on our way out the door.
The group text blew up when I got home. Mostly just thank you’s to and from everyone for coming. Someone chimed in about protesting and playing again next week. At that point I said Sure, that’ll give me a week to find another ringer. I could resist.
I either got kicked out of the group at that point or nothing was said after that. I doubt we will be invited back next year. And if we’re not that’s fine. I’d hate to see the treatment we’d get from these guys winning a tournament with actual money on the line.
And if we do get invited back, they’ll be in trouble again. Because I don’t plan on shooting 106 again anytime soon.