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My dream of becoming a pro golfer ended in the early 1990s on the first tee at Chagrin Valley Country Club. Though dressed in a modish Izod shirt (collar down, the way the Lord intended a collar to be worn), pleated Dockers khakis and saddle-shoe–looking FootJoy spikes, I took my first swing as a caddy and sent my ball smack into the window of our beloved caddy shack. It didn’t matter that my sunglasses didn’t budge an inch, thanks to my floral-patterned Croakies eyewear retainer. Nor did it matter that my visor, advertising that either I or someone who loves me had purchased it at Pinehurst, was smartly aligned on my forehead; my brand-new Titleist golf ball hooked 120 yards out of bounds. In that moment, with the eyes of my fellow caddies upon me — watching, judging — I realized that the PGA Tour would have to carry on without me. Fred Couples would never be helping me into my green jacket. But just in case my prowess and awesomeness as a caddy gave me false hope that a pro golfing career was still a possibility, the other caddies and club members quickly hazed me back down to size.

Country-club member Leonard: “That’s a heckuva tee shot there, Wally.”
Country-club member Walter: “Whoa, daddy! The way I turned the face of my driver, I was sure that baby was hookin’ toward the caddy shack.”
J.J. the caddy: “Hey, guys, you wanna hear a funny story about this dum-dum hookin’ one into the caddy-shack window on the caddy golf day?”
Me: “Aw, come on, J.J. Not again.”
Country-club member Leonard: “Ha! You hear that, Wally? We got us a real-life duffer over here.”
Country-club member Walter: “Tell us the story, J.J. What’d ol’ Adam do?”
J.J. the caddy: “OK, check this out: This guy here, he spent all this money to look like a Couples, had his Dockers pressed clean, new FootJoys and everything. And this guy put one over the trees, over the other fairway, over some more trees, around the maintenance shed and smack-dab into the only window in the caddy shack. I mean, he might be the worst golfer the Creator has ever created.”
Me: “Or the best.”
All: “Huh?” Me: “Well, my ball visited with all of the Creator’s natural creations. Then it exacted its will on a man-made, forsaken caddy shack. I’d say my shot was pretty much blessed.”
Country-club member Leonard: “Son, you’re in dangerous territory right now.”
Country-club member Walter: “Yeah, boy, you got a real smart mouth.”
J.J. the caddy: “Too bad his golf swing isn’t as sharp as that tongue of his.”

Truth is, I wasn’t a great caddy anyway. I had a strong back for the bags, but when guys like Leonard and Walter asked advice, I’d bulljive my way through. A good caddy can also golf. I can’t golf so well. Therefore, by deductive reasoning, I also can’t caddy.

Yet if there’s one place that puts caddy back strength over caddy golf knowledge, it’s the Elfego Baca Shoot at the Socorro Open, in Socorro, N.M. The shoot consists of just one hole. But, oh, what a hole it is (page 34).

I don’t know. I probably couldn’t play that hole either. I’m still way too hung up on my past embarrassments and psychological injuries to improve my mind, body and spirit right now. Until that time, I’ll hone my skills at being the golfing fashion police. If I see you on the course in 2011 with a popped collar; pressed, pleated Dockers or floral Croakies, I’ll write you up in this column and subject you to the same embarrassment that ol’ J.J. subjected me to. 

Speaking of J.J., I’m quite curious where he ended up. With his scratch golf game, nose for fashion, gift of gab and wicked wit, perhaps he’s on the PGA Tour right now. Or in prison. Either one’s a good place for him.
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Adam Pitluk