I’ll never forget the time that the citrus truck overturned on the highway. We had oranges covering the hillside for a week. Some kids (I will refrain from calling them punks) thought it would be funny to fill the back of their pickup truck with oranges and then park near the 5th green and throw oranges at the golfers trying to putt. They kept the ranger busy that day.
I usually saw the ranger twice a day on the course, once as I was arriving and once as I was leaving. He knew better than to bother me on the course, because I would set traps for him. He got tired of having to get his golf cart towed back to the clubhouse, so he started watching from afar. I think it is his little RC helicopter that flies just out of earshot along the tree line.
That day, the pu… I mean kids were behind a copse of trees near the 5th green, and I was teeing up for my drive to that green. The guys in front of us were trying to putt, but the orange barrage was making it difficult. As one was lining up his shot, the other was standing in front of him, blocking the oranges from hitting his opponent. I never carry any electronics with me, but my opponent had a smart phone and was taking videos of the guys dancing with their putters.
I saw a fluttering motion near the trees, and realized the ranger’s RC helicopter was trying to go around the trees to get a better look at where the oranges were coming from. Suddenly, three oranges headed straight for the helicopter. The ranger was definitely getting better at driving that thing, because he avoided the first two oranges with some really tight maneuvering, but the third one grazed it enough to get it spinning wildly.
I almost laughed when the helicopter bounced off of the guy putting. I would have laughed really hard, but at that moment, an orange bounced off of my forehead. The pun… kids had brought reinforcements. I looked around, but my assailant had backed into the trees. “This means war,” I hissed to my opponent.
I watched to make sure the kid was not getting ready to throw another one, and I hurriedly drove my ball all the way to the green. I was surprised that I had done that, since this was a par 4. But not as surprised as the guy putting. He hit his ball right into the sand trap on the opposite side of the green.
“Sorry!” I yelled. I didn’t understand the tirade coming back at me, but I assumed it did not have a whole lot of loving words in it.
While Old Man McGee got his ball teed up, I switched out my club for my aluminum baseball bat. I carried it in case of gator attacks on the 15th hole, but this was going to work out for knocking oranges back at the kids throwing them. I stood between the trees and Old Man McGee, anticipating that another attack would be forthcoming while he was swinging.
The situation on the green had deteriorated. The helicopter, after crashing into the guy I had scared, had finally righted itself and climbed to a position where the ranger could see everything. The oranges had not stopped, but instead of aiming at the helicopter, they had settled on the slower moving targets on the green. Two bounced off of the guy who was in the sand trap, who finally picked up his ball and ran to the cart. His opponent managed to concentrate (get it? Concentrate?) long enough to get his putt off, but one of the oranges hit his ball on its way to the hole and stopped it dead. I couldn’t tell until I got there a few minutes later, but his ball was actually driven into the green about an inch. The divot was perfectly ball shaped.
Golfer number two ran around the trees with his putter, but came running back in front of 4 oranges that struck him in the head, back, left arm and behind the right knee. That last one made him fall in an awkward position and sent him sailing into the sand trap just vacated by golfer number one. He would have been fine if Old Man McGee’s tee shot didn’t miraculously arrive at that moment and put a knot on the forehead of golfer number two.
Old Man McGee was still yelling “fore” when he saw the ricochet straight toward the cup. Luckily for me, the ball stopped 3 feet away.
The ranger had forgotten about his helicopter. He was driving his cart out from his hiding place and driving straight toward the origin of those infernal oranges. A few new ones bounced harmlessly off of his windshield, and I could hear the ranger shouting into his radio to call the sheriff. He should have waited for backup.
A couple of the kids had slipped into a ditch that ran parallel to the path that the ranger had taken. They popped up from their hiding place and threw oranges for all they were worth. They each got three good throws, and all of them hit the ranger. The last two caught him as he was unbalanced and knocked him clean out of his golf cart, which immediately came to an abrupt stop. So did the ranger. He rolled twice and crashed into a bush that totally engulfed him.
A barrage of oranges flew into the bush, followed by a barrage of cursing coming out of the bush. When the ranger finally emerged from the bush, I could see the rage in his face from way over where I was standing. I heard the screeching of tires and saw the pickup truck head up the road toward town.
I think the kid hiding in the trees near my position realized that he had just been left behind, because I heard him start crashing through the trees toward the road. I could tell he didn’t have a machete, because he was not getting anywhere very fast. These woods are thick with vines, branches and poison ivy. I decided pursuit was not necessary, as karma was about to turn the tables on this one. Old Man McGee was pretty oblivious to the whole scene, he was still celebrating his amazing tee shot – pointing to the bottle of Single Malt Scotch sticking out of his golf bag, “You’re going to be taking a couple shots after I sink that putt.”
The ranger had gotten back into his cart and was following the pickup truck up the road. The two golfers in front of us were on their way to the 6th tee. Things were almost back to normal, except for the part where we had to drive around oranges to get to the green. I parked on the cart path and selected my putter, amazed that my ball was still on the green after the barrage of oranges had taken out the two golfers before us. I picked up the oranges that littered the green and rolled them to the edge of the green so I could get a shot at the cup. I usually could handle a long putt, but Old Man McGee had put some pressure on me with that comment about my having to drink two shots after this hole.
You see, Old Man McGee and I make our golf games interesting by wagering a shot of our favorite alcoholic beverage that we are going to win a particular hole. Loser drinks one shot per stroke difference of the winner’s beverage. I had tequila, he had scotch. Neither of us was excited about drinking the other person’s drink, so we played extra hard – including using psychological tactics. I had won a few of the holes recently, and was feeling pretty good about this one, too. I imagined we would be tied at two strokes apiece after I sank this putt.
The flag was still on the ground next to the sand trap, so I didn’t have to touch it. I lined up my shot. The slope was in my favor, so I tapped it just enough to get it into the natural funnel of the green and the ball traveled the rest of the way into the cup!
After watching me do my celebration dance for a sew seconds, Old Man McGee muttered that I lucked out on that one. Then he took careful aim. He steadily glided his putter above the surface of the green and made contact with the ball. It had just the right speed, the right trajectory… it arrived at the rim of the cup… and the radio controlled helicopter fell right on the ball and drove it into the sand trap on the other side of the green.
I looked at Old Man McGee. “I’ll go start pouring your tequila shots.”