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Randy Wilson

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  • Club/Course/Company
    TurfNet Media Network / Rockbottum Country Club
  • Location
    Rabun County, GA

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  1. AntiGolf hits Rockbottum CC . . . or is it the other way round?
  2. Used in the rockbottum sense, it has a dual meaning, indicating plentiful and worthy of an archeological dig. Also, we have a tendency to make up, twist and mangle words here, partly to see if anybody is actually reading our stuff and sometimes just because we suffer from splenetic petulance triggered by too many years hossin' a golf course. *Note: I don't think dinotherian is in the scrabble dictionary, so knowledge of the word is useless.
  3. Thanks, Steve. I used to wonder if we should make the marshals walk instead of wasting a cart just so they could sleep and tote balls, but couldn't get any support for that policy. Your method is the answer. It's fair, just, and screaming funny. Just thinking about the look on the marshal's face when he realizes the key is gone--only thing left to do is jam his radio by keying the mic when he tries to call the pro shop. Unless he uses that cursed cell.
  4. What follows is a recently declassified story that was not included in "The Greens of Wrath". Because it's nearly peak ballhawk season, the tale of Ballhawk Creek seems an appropriate selection for this week, and I will include a few tips to help you commit optimum ballhawkery. I have reason to believe this will be the greatest ballhawk season since Lee Trevino won the US Open in '68. The aftermath of that event triggered a massive surge of rabid golf newbies who covered the roughs and forests of golf with countless Titleists, Club Specials and Top-Flites. As a former Master Ballhawk, I can sense when the balls will be plentiful, and this year looks to be dinotherian. To maximize your yield, remember that prime ball finding occurs just after a couple of hard frosts, but before all the leaves come down. There are sweet spots out there just loaded with shiny, near virginal golfic spheres and if you don't go get them, the marshals will. You must quickly establish your dominance over the sweet spots by deploying your AIT to harass and intimidate the predatory marshals looking to vacuum up your treasure. Offer your rough unit operators a bounty of say, fifty cents for a pearl and a quarter each for decent balls. (Pearls are new balls, hit once and lost; a decent ball is still round.) Modern balls hold their shape better than the older balatas, so chances are good for a strong harvest this year. Note: If you discover the rough unit operator is holding out on you, pull him off his unit and have him sling blade a gravel parking lot for a day or so. Be careful in the creek banks. That's where Jake No-Shoulders resides, and he is fairly aggressive about protecting his balls. Now, it's StoryTime: "Showdown at Ballhawk Creek" Long ago, back in the early 60's, I earned most of my wealth by ballhawking. It was a dangerous way to make a living, as I often had to compete with older, more experienced ball retrieval experts. On a US Army course in Bavaria, I was making upwards of $3 a day--or 12 Deutschmarks--before I ran afoul of Chet, the German golf pro/ski instructor. Chet had the rights to lost balls on the course, but not the physical speed needed to deter pre-teen ball stealing insurgents. A few years later, in California, I honed my ballhawk technique to a fine edge by refusing to limit my AO (Area of Operations) to just the golf course Dad operated. It mattered not whether my victims were rich country clubs or munis, I was a heartless scourge, a ruthless raider of orphaned golf balls. One method I favored was stashing my bicycle in the woods and wreaking havoc upon the resident fat and lazy ball hawks (marshals) toting away all their treasure while feeling no remorse at all. Back in Tennessee, circa 1971, Dad bought a device designed to pull wayward balls out of lakes. It resembled a tiny driving range picker, only 36" wide, and made of aluminum. The idea was to attach ropes to both sides and drag it through the lake. I quickly cleared our lakes of balls and moved on to other golf course lakes. (This had to be done at night, of course.) I became so wealthy that I bought an old ringer washing machine, lined it with carpet and using bleach, was able to refurbish lake balls to a new and gleaming state. The sound of 50 balls agitating back and forth sounded like troops marching in crusty snow ; I can still hear that comforting sound in my head. That operation came to an abrupt halt when I got the lake ball picker stuck in the irrigation lake on a country club near Jackson, Tennessee. Assuming I had snagged a dead golfer--or worse, a foot valve--I cut the rope and fled. In early autumn of 1989, I encountered my first ballhawk opponent of super-villain stature. Known as the "Camo-BallHawk", he had been working Broken Finger CC for ten years, achieving legendary status. A greybeard, he crept stealthily around the fringes of the course, dressed in deer hunting camo, wearing knee high snake boots and a boonie hat draped in fishnet stockings interwoven with cattails and vines. (Sort of a swamp Ghillie Suit.) The old man always had a canvas bag full of balls, a ball retriever, a metal trowel to dig out embedded balls and a telescopic fishing pole of the K-Mart specie. The fishing pole was not for fishing, it was a defensive weapon. I learned this when Langston, our top rough unit ball-hound, accused the old fellow of trespassing and general sneakiness. Camo-BallHawk unsheathed his fishing pole and went all Errol Flynn from "Captain Blood" on Langston, flailing, slashing and swashbuckling real good before vanishing into the swamp. I decided to vanquish the Camo-BallHawk and set about to search for him, but he was good . . . real good. He was almost invisible in his K-Mart camo, often standing perfectly still and undetected when golf course personnel and golfers were within feet of him. He rarely spoke, except to do the disembodied voice thing, pointing out the golfer was utilizing the wrong tree for processed beer relief. Learning that Camo-BallHawk had once been a member of Broken Finger CC, I was able to determine where he lived and with careful tracking, I discovered his point of golf course access. He lived on the other side of I-20, which ran alongside several holes, and he always slipped in under an overpass. The old man had apparently devolved from a member into a marshal and later was infected with inoperable Ballhawk Syndrome. Camo-BallHawk knew I was hunting him. He became even more ghostly, sticking to the creek banks when I was working late watering fairways. Once, I thought I saw him standing in the deep mud of Snapfinger Creek as I went over a bridge at dusk, but when I flipped around . . . he was gone. One evening, just before dark, I caught him crossing a fairway and cut him off with my little Honda 4-wheeler. He pulled his fishing pole on me, swishing it around like he was an Olympic fencing master, forcing me to back off. (Equal force and all that.) The next morning, there he was, right out in the open, defiantly working a creek bank, aware that he had successfully faced me down. This time, however, I was prepared. I drew my slingshot and fired a lead fishing weight as he turned and ran for the swamp. I was trying to pull off a Roy Rogers shot, in order to knock the bag out of his hand, but I missed and struck him dead square in the buttocks. Camo-BallHawk yelped in pain and shrieked, "You shot me in the ass, you . . . you backshooter!" I had been called worse names. His verbal defense having no effect, I launched another volley of lead. He took cover by leaping into the creek. I crept up carefully, peering over the edge of the bank and saw Camo-BallHawk stuck up to his bony hips in creek mud. "Gonna shoot me in the back, you little piss-aint?" The old man threw the bag of balls on the opposite bank and commenced trying to free himself from the mud, struggling mightily without success. Realizing he was trapped, he began to wildly wave his fishing pole blindly behind his back, in hopes of hitting me. I wasn't sure what to do. I was hesitant to call the cops, as I didn't have a concealed carry permit for a slingshot, but I had to do something. After all, this was a hardened ballhawk and I would never be shed of him with mere fishing weights. I looked at the sky and in my best Clint Eastwood, said, "It's gonna rain soon, old man . . . and this creek floods real good." "Listen, you little bastard," Camo-BallHawk growled, "get me outa here and I won't ever come back, okay?" "It's a deal." Later, when I returned with Langston and the backhoe, the old man was gone, except for one snake boot barely showing in the deep mud of Snapfinger Creek. Langston studied the situation, turned to me and said, in grave tones, "You 'spose he went under, like quicksand?" A few months later, as I left Broken Finger for the last time, to go rebuild another terrible golf course, I waved goodbye to the crew and headed out the gravel driveway. As I drove past #6 green, near the highway, I noticed an odd looking bush in the rough. It was waving at me.
  5. Thank you, Joe. We here at the Rock appreciate your comment. And the lift folks get from us is of the "Thank God I'm not as screwed up as Wilson" variety.
  6. Very good piece, Joe. I lost a couple, suddenly--and probably didn't handle it properly. But I did find that standing outside the front gate laughing like an escaped lunatic helped a lot. Especially if I yelled something like, "Wait til you find it! HAHAHAHAHAHA!"
  7. Thanks, Steve. As soon as retirement hits, maybe you could declassify some of your stories. And thanks to you, Jonathan. That wasn't the only time I gave in to temptation. After several different country clubs, my folks wanted me to see a therapist who specialized in curing serial bag-wetting.
  8. It wasn't a Fender Twin, was it? Good stuff, Paul.
  9. Thank you, Brian. I probably wouldn't have any of these stories if Dad had just stayed in the Army and been into hockey or curling.
  10. Kevin, I think your hair was burned off by riding your time trial bike so fast--when you get above 25mph, a vortex induction is created inside the helmet and before you know it, you've grown a great head of skin. My hair loss was most likely too much growth retardant. Fuzzy and no shine.
  11. In 1959, while still a toddler, I was forcibly indoctrinated into the cult of golf. Handed a plastic 3-wood, I was taught a series of carved-in-stone golf truths that had to be committed to memory and recited like the multiplication tables. First, was Play Fast! Next, I was to always stay out of the backswing zone of big women, because they could knock your teeth out. (Learned that one the hard way.) I also learned that a plastic 3-wood was particularly suited to killing chickens. In addition, I was never to play Hogan clubs, wear Hogan shoes, use Hogan's swing or hit Hogan balls, unless they were attached to Mr. Hogan. (There had been some kind of altercation* with Mr. Hogan the previous year.) *Note: See "The Greens of Wrath" I will confess to attempting Hogan's perfect swing, but I always claimed it was actually Julius Boros' swing, so as not to violate family protocol. But the most important golf truth hammered into my soul was NEVER, EVER, cheat at golf. My grandmother said that was the surest way to get kicked out of the family and carried off by Yankee soldiers. Pastor Elwood gave a whole sermon on cheating at golf, saying it meant you were entirely devoid of character and personal integrity. But it was Dad who warned me of the mysterious entity known as "Fudgie". If you cheated at golf, Fudgie would "get" you. I'm pretty sure it's one of the Ten Commandments. I can still hear Dad's voice: "Don't ever give in to temptation and cheat on the golf course, because Fudgie will surely get you. Maybe not during that round or even that same year, but rest assured, Fudgie will get you." I never heard Fudgie's name invoked on the subject of poker, high school football referees or boxing, so I guess cheating was acceptable in those areas. For the next few decades, I was convinced that a ghostly presence followed me every time I stepped on the golf course, watching me closely for the tiniest rule infraction, whereby he would either disintegrate me like a Star Trek transporter or worse . . . cause me to yank-hook a tee shot into the highway. I became quite neurotic trying to follow all the rules. I refused to hit mulligans, even when alone. I never took a gimme. I turned away when others were bending the rules, just so I wouldn't absorb their impure thoughts. Now please understand, I wasn't some kind of church lady, heaping guilt upon fellow golfers. I never accused someone of cheating, no matter how wicked they were . . . at least until the day I encountered "Riff" Riffington. On that day, I didn't merely accuse the man of cheating, I called down the fire of Fudgie upon him. It was a hot Friday morning in August of 1971, the day before our biggest tournament of the year, the Woodland Dell Open. I was lovingly washing down our shiny new Toro Triplex greensmower, when Dad, the golf pro/superintendent/GM, walked up and said, "Son, there's a rich guy here for his practice round and he needs a caddie. I told him you caddied for me on Monday qualifying events and he said he'd pay double your rate if you'll tote the bag for him ." Now, as a lowly teenaged maintenance oaf, I made less than a dollar an hour. But as a caddie, I could make $10 in three hours. I quickly changed into my caddie costume: Cutoff blue jeans, Izod golf shirt, Aussie cowboy hat, mirrored aviators, black Keds High-Tops, and enough coconut flavored suntan oil to choke a T-Rex. (I was cool back then.) I then presented myself to Mr. Evans, the rich guy client. He was an older, white-haired gentleman, very calm, with enough clubs in the back of his new Cadillac to equip a college golf team. Mr. Evans wanted to hit a few balls and get in a quick practice round, so I took him out to our designated "practice" area. In those days, few courses had practice ranges and it was common for the caddie to "shag" balls in some out of play spot. It's important to note that these balls were not "shagged" in the British sense; the term "shag" simply referred to the player hitting from the rough, in the direction of the caddie. The caddie's job was to stand there like a flagstick, holding a canvas bag, and collect the balls. As Mr. Evans was a polite, skilled golfer--still very rare even today--we got along really well. I did my best caddie impression, providing exact yardages, watching the ball like a pit bull eyeballing a pork chop, reading greens when asked and keeping a dry towel close by. After the practice round, instead of my normal $10--I charged $2 more than the other caddies, mostly because I didn't want to caddie--Mr. Evans slipped me a $20, putting me in an entirely new tax bracket and also making me very protective of my client. On Saturday morning, Mr. Evans drew a comfortable mid-morning tee time, thanks to me needing some sleep after watering greens till 0300. Unfortunately, we were paired with known serial cheater Riff Riffington and two hackers from Memphis. I didn't like Riff. He was a tall, cadaverous man about 55 years old, famous for carousing with other men's wives, being cheap as dirt and as previously mentioned, cheating at golf. I couldn't look at Riff without thinking of a bald-headed Ichabod Crane with a sour expression who favored department store golf clubs. Riff was also the first golfer I ever knew who had his very own personal cart. It was a beastly old Westinghouse that resembled a rolling coffin and Riff always refused to share his cart. His reason for not sharing was it enabled him to race ahead and quickly "find" lost balls. Riff would speed off down the fairway, find his ball, improve the situation and if he had time, accidentally run over other balls. Sometimes balls thought to be in the fairway would turn up in the deep rough or not at all. On blind tee shots, I ran--carrying that heavy bag--trying to catch Riff in the act, but he was too smooth and too fast. On the last hole of the day, a steep uphill par four, Mr. Evans hit a perfect 8-iron that I was sure would be stiff to the pin. Riff skulled a 6-iron that appeared to go at least 40 yards long. When we got to the green, there was Riff calmly marking his ball about a foot from the hole, while pointing to Mr. Evan's ball in the back bunker. "Tough luck, Evans," Riff sneered. After 18 holes of blatant, unrepentant, malicious cheating, I could no longer help myself. In a fit of righteous rage, I called down fire upon Riff by pointing at him and muttering, "Fudgie's gonna get you, Mr. Riffington." Even with all his deviltry, Riff was still only two up on Mr. Evans, but the day had filled me with the hot, blind lust for vengeance. After posting scores, I took Mr. Evan's bag and shoes into the bag room for cleaning. (I had the bag room concession, at $3 per bag per month.) This meant I also had to clean Riff's bag and shoes, a distasteful chore, but business is business. That night, in addition to cleaning about 80 sets of clubs and pairs of nasty kilted Foot-Joys, I still had to water the greens. While the tournament competitors and their wives and mistresses danced upstairs in the grand ballroom--sounding like drunken lumberjacks stomping rats on a poorly built hardwood floor--I scrubbed and brushed and dried and polished and generally worked up a good hate. Then I took care of Riff's bag and went out to irrigate bermuda. The next morning, as I shagged balls for Mr. Evans, Riff showed up, and in a shocking display of rudeness, began to hit some of Mr. Evan's balls--without even asking permission! In another breach of protocol, Riff failed to give me the warning signal that ball shaggers depended on for survival: Upraised arms similar to a referee indicating a touchdown. I got the distinct impression that Riff was trying to bounce a Titleist off my skull, but fortunately the sky was blue and I could see the missile. On the first tee, Riff was in the group behind us. Just before we teed off, Dad pulled me aside. "Son," Dad whispered, "Riffington says his bag smells like . . . pee." I looked Dad right in the eye and said, "Dad . . . Riffington is a cheater." In spite of Riff's bag, gloves and extra shirt stinking like an ammonia tanker exploded, he still managed to win the Second Flight. Mr. Evans took third in the same flight, but seemed to enjoy the day regardless. As I loaded his clubs in the trunk of the Cadillac, Mr. Evans slipped me $40, which in today's money equals about $10,000, and he said, "I suppose you were right, young man. Fudgie did get Riff." "I don't think so, Mr. Evans," I couldn't keep the bitterness out of my voice, "he still got a trophy and a gift certificate for $50." "No," Mr. Evans shook his head and smiled, "I mean last night during the dance. Riff got punched in the eye by an irate husband . . . and did you get a whiff of him this morning? Smelled like he's been sleeping in kitty litter." I still wasn't satisfied. I began to question whether Fudgie was even real--at least until a few years later, when Riff was killed with an axe. His wife was the primary suspect at first, but the detectives decided it was a fairly obvious suicide. I think they were golfers.
  12. Mark, I only understood a few of them words. I'm thinkin' you minored in philosophy and elocutionary discourse.
  13. In this episode, RW and gang deal with "News Depression" and how to fix it, as well as "Skin Cancer and The GCS"... and our solution. Rockbottum tackles questionable turf lab results and the best way to cure them, and studies an important survey that affects the golf course crew. Also, they discuss spoiled tour players, the impact of social media on our jobs, and then go in-depth on the current golf boom and how to sustain it. Presented by DryJect.
  14. Matt, I shall forward your remarks in hopes they do some good. And I tell him my hairdo is the result of steroids, thinking he will steer clear of the juice.
  15. Thanks, Fred. To be straight up with you, the only reason I touched that flagstick is because they told me I couldn't.
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