This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer
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I managed to find Wendell Webb's original golf story that he sent me 16 or 18 years ago. My recounting of it from memory the other day wasn't too bad, but I got many details wrong. Here's the real version, from the horse's mouth so to speak. This is from Wendell:
I was just thinking about your golf story and thought I would tell you a short story about my short-lived golf career.
In the late '70s I was stationed in Turkey for 18 months. Unfortunately, I was there when the US cut off military aid to Turkey, and the
government got a little bent out of shape about it. They took over all the bases in the country (a political, not a military move) and completely shut down our operation. As a result, most of us had no job to go to and plenty of free time on our hands.
The base was small and didn't have a lot of recreational facilities, but it did have a nine-hole golf course. Each hole had two tee positions so you could play 18 holes. I had played golf maybe two or three times before, but a friend of mine and I decided that we would play 18 holes every day for the remainder of our stay, regardless of weather or any other circumstance. We ended up playing every day for about three months, and then about three times a week after that.
I am, or was, a pretty good athlete, but for some reason, I could not play golf well. I couldn't control my drive, and my fairway shots were very unpredictable. I was shooting in the 120s even after the first month or so of playing every day.
We had a golf clubhouse, which was a shack that had a few chairs and tables, where they sold beer and Cokes and potato chips when they had them. All the golfers would hang around there and brag about their latest round of 74 or 90 or 84, etc., and when I was forced to give my score of 123 or whatever I got the appropriate laughs.
I decided to do something about the embarrassment…for all future rounds, I decided to play until I reached 90 or so strokes and then walk off the course. Fourteenth hole, 10th hole, it didn't matter. Then I could truthfully say that my score was 90 or 93 or whatever. That worked great. Now, all I had to do was try to increase the number of holes that I played. That seemed to really take the pressure off me. My playing partner thought it was hysterical, and never told anyone.
Finally, I had an opportunity to play with one of the better golfers on base, a colonel who was the base comptroller before we got kicked out. He agreed to observe my game and give me some pointers. He was not going to give me any instruction as we played, but at the clubhouse after the round was finished.
After the round, as we were sitting there having our drinks, he told me, with a perfectly straight face, that I should completely lay off the game for two or three weeks…and then never go back to it.
Funny. The golf swing is a profoundly unnatural motion, and "Sometimes you just can't do / What your body isn't meant to," in the words of an old Mountain Goats song.
I tried to contact Wendell but he is no longer at his former email address. As I mentioned the other day, in the mid-2000s I got the bright idea of asking readers of my old column "The Sunday Morning Photographer" to voluntarily contribute $1 a week. The column was being published on eight websites, and our best guesstimate was that it was being seen by 60,000 to 80,000 people a week. Yet I wasn't getting a dime for it from anyone. I figured a couple of hundred readers might shoot me a buck for every article if I asked.
Wendell was the only one who did. Now there's Patreon for those who like to contribute (and thanks to all of you who do—you're very kind), but for a couple of years there was only Wendell, who faithfully sent a dollar by PayPal every time one of my columns appeared—my first, and for a considerable time my only, online supporter. I used to tell him that he might not be one in a million, but that he was one in sixty thousand.
Grateful thanks again, Wendell, wherever you are.
UPDATE Saturday July 13th: This came in an email from PayPal early this afternoon:
Made my day! 🙂
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