Matt watched her go and then decided to look for his ball, even though the sun had set and the course was getting dark. Play out the hole, if he could. Sundays were the only nights that caddies could play the course.
He went into the trees, carrying his driver, and almost immediately spotted a flash of white on the ground. Not his ball, though.
A scrap of paper. He was surprised the grounds crew had missed it.
Shocked, really. Those guys never missed anything.
He snatched it off the ground and saw that it was part of the spectator’s handbook from last week’s tournament. The Pines Labor Day Classic. A little pamphlet with information on the course and the players.
There were pictures of the tournament’s past champions on the cover, four of them, anyway. Lee Trevino, who won back-to-back in the seventies. Tiger Woods, who’d won it in 2003. Sergio Garcia. And, in the bottom right, Jack Nicklaus in his prime, looking like a movie star, blond hair blowing back, wearing a yellow turtleneck, staring at a ball he’d just hit, a fierce look on his face, like he was sending out magic brainwaves, telling the ball exactly where to go.
Matt smiled and remembered—that day in April 1986. He’d been nine years old. Huge football fan. Huge Cleveland Browns fan—posters of Bernie Kosar and Ernest Byner on his bedroom wall. He’d gone to stay with his grandparents for the weekend. Sunday afternoon, he walked into the living room. His grandfather was leaning forward in his chair, staring at the TV screen, shaking his head.
“He’s going to do it, Matt. He’s really going to do it.”
Matt turned to see the TV screen. Golf. The Masters.
Matt hated golf. Golf was slow. Golf was boring. Golf wasn’t really a sport. No golfer should ever be on a Wheaties box.
The man on the screen was Matt’s dad’s age, maybe a little older.
Blond hair, yellow shirt, checkered slacks. Jack Nicklaus, though Matt didn’t know that at the time. The man was leaning over a golf ball.
Preparing to putt.
“This is for birdie,” the announcer said. “For a share of the lead.”
The man drew back his club and tapped the ball. It scooted along the ground on a perfectly straight line; the camera pulled back to show the ball heading toward the hole. Had to be thirty feet away.
“Oh my,” the TV announcer said. “Oh my.”
The crowd, silent until that second, began to make noise.
The man who’d hit the ball stared after it, pumped his fist.
The crowd got louder. And louder.
“Come on,” his grandfather said. “Come on…”
The camera zoomed in.
The ball rolled closer—a foot, six inches.
Come on, Matt found himself saying too. Come on.
The ball went into the hole.
The crowd cheered.
A man screamed.
Matt blinked, came back to the present.
The same man screamed again.
The scream came from the left—from the twelfth green, which was separated from the thirteenth tee by the little patch of trees surrounding Matt.
Matt shoved the pamphlet into his back pocket, next to the flask, and pushed forward. He heard voices.
“…because it’s very serious, Bob.”
“I get your point, it’s serious. It won’t happen again, I promise.”
Bob, Matt thought. Bob Kazmir?
Matt crept to the edge of the woods, still holding his driver.
He gazed down on the twelfth green, where three men stood. One was indeed Bob Kazmir, dressed, like Kazmir always dressed, to the nines— flamboyant, black slacks and an iridescent blue button-down shirt, a little touch of Florida here in Ohio. Another guy had his back to Matt, and it was a big back. The guy was huge, buffed up like a bodybuilder. Wearing a tight green polo shirt that showed off his muscles. Matt couldn’t see his face.
The third man glared at Kazmir. He was older—fifties, maybe sixties, Matt couldn’t quite tell. The guy was in great shape. Six feet maybe, a little taller, close-cropped gray hair, like a military cut. His arms were folded across his chest.