Fresh off the tortuous course conditions at the U.S. Open at Chamber's Bay and the brutal weather challenges at the British Open at St. Andrews, the origin of golf, Dr. Cook shares a humorous excerpt from his novel: Johnny's US Open. This passage describes the nightmare our main character had on the eve of his first US Open as a competitor. Enjoy. We will return to the Journey of Awe series in the weeks to come.
“There I was, approaching my ball on the first tee of the U.S. Open. Despite the tournament official’s fine baritone rendition of my name and hometown, the crowd was unimpressed, almost incredulous, that I had the audacity to take up space and time until their heroes teed it up. I walked into the shot with the confidence of a turtle embarking on a desert crossing. As I looked down the fairway in search of my target, all I could see were faces pressing into the ropes along the length of the tee box, looking back at me with smiles not knowing that they were in harm’s way. The face-lined tee box looked like the hallway of a mid-century high rise.
I took my stance but had no feeling in my hands. As I looked down at the ball, I noticed that my club had morphed into a peacock feather and that I was dressed only in my boxers and black socks. The crowd erupted in laughter as I began my swing using the Utopia Pre-Set. I swung with all I had. To my horror, the ball was not influenced in the least by the wisp of the feather. I swung again & again to no avail. The crowd was rolling in laughter in the fairway as my playing partner was counting my strokes out loud.
My caddy came to my rescue with a real club, a Hogan one-iron. Legend had it that Hogan found the sweet spot at Merion, but to this day no other golfer has. I grabbed the club like a desperate seagull going after a tossed sardine.
This time as I approached the ball, I was transported into a kitchen. The ball was at rest on a Mexican tile floor. Three feet away was the breakfast table in a cozy nook surrounded by a bay window. The spectators’ contorted faces were pressed hard against the outside of the glass. They were intent on seeing my recovery shot to the coffee cup perched on the table serving as the hole. The cameraman was hanging from the overhead lighting fixture. My caddy was tending the swizzle stick that served as the pin on this treacherous par three. His patronizing comment to open the face was no help at all. A feeling of helplessness covered me as the perspiration poured down my forehead in torrents. How was I ever going to complete this shot? I collapsed into the yips. I couldn’t pull the club back. Time was ticking. In the background I could hear Rod Sterling introducing the “Twilight Zone” as my childhood principal stepped into the kitchen with a paddle to assess a two-swat penalty for slow play. As he opened his drooping cellulose-laden jowls to speak, he crowed like a rooster.
My eyes opened to the caress of the glorious first light of dawn in Utopia, the suffocating fear of this U.S. Open nightmare dissipating with the daily call of the rooster from its distant perch, once again putting everything in order. My heart pulsating like the smoke stack of Engine 99, body drenched from the sweat of the prey’s fear, I bolted straight up, thanking God that the nightmare was over. I made a promise to myself that no shrink would ever catch wind of that dream!"
From Johnny’s U.S. Open p. 47-48