Thunder and lightning outside. Everyone’s been called off the course and into the 19th hole. Time for a golf story . . .
Generally speaking, we had fairly mild winters in Richmond, VA during the 15 or so years I lived there. And, of course, having grown up in New England and attended college in Wisconsin, “mild” could have a different meaning than to those raised in the south. Most of the time, 40 degrees was my unofficial cutoff point as to whether or not to tee it up. We had a number of like-minded golfers at my club; enough to have fairly large weekend groups traipsing about the course. On days like that, it was highly beneficial to have some “warming fluid” or “bracer” or whatever other euphemism for spirits that one might use. Some of us carried flasks in our bags, and willingly shared our elixir with anyone else in our foursome feeling a bit of a chill.
As our course ran through a residential community, the yards of numerous homes bordered it, several of them belonging to members. Tacked on to some of the trees were birdhouses, which by and large were vacated during the winter months. One weekend morning, the word spread among those of us playing that we should check out the birdhouse coming off of number 6 green. Our group finished up there; I went over to inspect the birdhouse, and surely enough, a pint bottle (at that point nearly empty) of Jim Beam sat inside.
As you can imagine, this caused quite a sensation when we all gathered at the 19th Hole for out post-round libations. Our generous, forward-thinking member (for purposes of this story, we’ll call him Rich) was hailed as a genius. We quickly did an audit of the member/birdhouse matrix, and devised a plan to ensure that our players were well fortified during winter play.
This soon became an unofficial, year round feature at our club. Guests and new members were quietly introduced to our “secret” stashes. New birdhouses popped up, some having enough size to accommodate liter-sized decanters. One of our members took a different tact, using individually labeled jigger-sized bottles that were recycled. He even included tasting notes for the available spirits.
Of course, there were drawbacks to this, as popular as it was. The youth of the neighborhood soon learned of our stock, which forced the shutdown of some locations and the use of combination locks on others. This, however, was not the worst transgression to occur.
One early spring morning, a group of us were finishing up on the aforementioned 6th hole. I had just three-putted for bogey, which put me in a less-than-contented frame of mind. Thinking that a quick shot would improve that situation, I walked over to Rich’s birdhouse, opened it up . . . and found a bird’s nest inside.
Talk about adding insult to injury! I whipped out my cell phone and rang up Rich; when he answered, I immediately expressed my displeasure about this turn of events:
“A bird’s nest? A f*cking bird’s nest?” I bellowed into the phone, only half-joking.
Rich’s explanation was, in my mind, rather weak – he had been out of town on business travel, which was followed by a planned family vacation (one that he had been in the process of enjoying prior to my call), thus neglecting his duties to his mates at the club. But all things being equal, I had to let him off the hook – although going forward, he (and other tenders of the houses) would be required to advise us of all pending travel plans so that future incidents would be avoided.
Come to think of it – this should have been put into the club’s by-laws.