Playing golf with the doctor

Posted July 13, 2009, at 6:43 p.m.

Described below is my most recent round of golf, proof this doctor is not spending too much time on the course. Until this, I was playing with more confidence because I just bought some Mojo brand golf balls on sale, figuring mojo is the one thing my golf game lacks.

On the first tee I uncork monster back swing and hit a worm-strafing shot that goes about 80 yards. Hackers’ rules prevail (the first drive never counts if it’s lousy), so I hit another drive 230 yards straight up the fairway.

From there I smack the Mojo with my three wood in a deeply satisfying shot that goes 200 yards straight at the flag. The fact that said flag is on the green of an adjacent fairway, and not the flag I was aiming for, is just a detail that simply means I also need a Mojo three wood.

My ball now lies in deep grass, from which I weed-whack it out with a mighty nine iron shot that launches a 6-inch divot of grass and roots 30 yards and the ball about 32 yards. I then overcompensate for that short shot by lofting the ball over the entire green into the grass on the other side. This is good because I need to practice my short game around the green anyway.

I prove that by chunking the chip shot and barely massaging the Mojo two feet closer to the green. This allows me to work some more on my short game, and also on chipping while cussing. Practice or profanity make perfect, as the next shot actually puts the ball on the green. There I demonstrate once again how to sink in three putts what Tiger Woods could sink in one while having brain surgery, and take satisfaction in the fact Tiger can drain a long putt, but I can drain a hot abscess.

A pessimistic golfer would have scored that all as 10 shots on a par 5 hole, but as an optimistic golfer I prefer to believe that I simply parred (pureed?) the hole twice.

The next hole calls to me with the siren song of possible golf glory. If I smack the ball so hard over the trees that its Mojo label won’t catch up with it for a week I can cut the corner off this dogleg right fairway. This would put the ball about 80 yards closer to the hole than if I play conservatively. I have made that cut corner shot about five times in a thousand tries, and walking in the woods was nice the other 995 times, so I naturally consider trying it every time. But the voice in my head that always says “Don’t be an idiot,” wins out for once, so I just whack a pretty but conservative weenie shot about 220 yards up the fairway’s middle.

That success must be punished. I loft my ball and hopes high into the sky with my 8 iron, where it appears briefly my second shot will actually land on the green. But the shot is short, so hope and ball are then buried in a greenside pot, the golf course equivalent of a grave in which duffer dreams of par are laid to rest. I chop it out of the pot to a brief on-off relationship with the green, because it rolls off the green into the rough on the other side (more short game practice!). I chip back onto the green, putt 6 feet past the cup (who knew I was putting on linoleum?), and finally sink the Mojo in the cup on my seventh shot. Had I missed again I would have sunk the Mojo deep into the green with my putter. Bad Mojo! (That may be why it was on sale.)

And that’s just two holes. The next seven holes remind me why my golf companions always stand behind me when I hit, and why I keep coming back; among the next 40-plus whacks and slices are some pure, sweet shots and a 30-foot birdie putt that are like hits of crack cocaine to this golf addict. Those are enough to keep me hooked, so look out, worms! The doctor will be back whacking next weekend.

Dr. Erik Steele is interim CEO at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, vice president and chief medical officer of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems and no threat to Tiger Woods.

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