I usually duck and cover if I see the Sand Crab coming, but today was different. After our last talk I had to check in with him, and I knew I’d find him near the TV in the grill, watching the Open and dispensing wisdom.
I slid in next to him on the couch in the corner and watched as Rory McIlroy smoothed a drive down 18. Sand Crab shook his head, muttered something that sounded like “moves on ball bearings”, and muted the television. He raised his eyebrows and looked at me. “Well? You do it?”
If Sand Crab had any kids, I hope they weren’t exposed to that look very often. I took a deep breath and jumped in. “I’ve played twice since we talked. And kept records, like you asked.”
Sand Crab signed and looked disgusted. “Practice, did you practice?”
“I said I would, didn’t I?”
He looked back at the TV screen, where a couple was sitting in separate bathtubs. “You ever have two bathtubs on your back deck? Me neither.” He turned back to me. “Did you practice or not?”
“Sure, Crabman, I practiced. I pulled out my Dave Pelz, worked on my position over the ball and alignment, held some practice sessions on my carpet. I even used some books as guide rails so I was putting straight.”
“Atta boy. I didn’t think you’d do it. So what happened?”
I grinned at him. “Shot a 78 and a 76, with 31 and 30 putts. Not too bad, at least for me.”
He turned his attention back to the TV, where McIlroy was rolling a putt in the back door. Without looking at me he asked, “Miss any short ones?”
I groaned internally, knowing what was coming. “I missed three in my 76 that I shold have made. But I made some that were a lot harder, so they balanced out.”
His eyebrows were flying back up as he turned towards me. “They balanced out?! You mean the misses kept you from a really good round! You don’t make up for misses with good putts. You get ahead with good putts.” He raised his eyes to the ceiling and clasped his hands in front of his chest. “Why me, Lord? Where do you find these lost sheep? And why do you send them to me?”
“So it’s not a good thing that I made the longer ones? I should have just let my score go up? C’mon Crabs. Get real.”
He leaned back on the couch, but kept staring at the ceiling. “Of course not, doofus. I’m glad you made some, and glad you shot a good score. But those putts didn’t make up for the short misses. The short misses cancelled out those good putts.”
“I’m putting better, Crabpot. Believe me. And I’m making them with more authority. I just still miss a few short ones.”
He responded in a soprano sing-song voice. “I just miss a few short ones.” He rolled his head back so it rested on the couch back and stared at the ceiling. “So why are you putting better?”
“Keeping records makes me stay focused. And the practice helps. When I started missing putts I realized I’d lost my concentration, so I got refocused and back to my practice strategies. I got my confidence back and finished strong.”
He started laughing. “You mean you admit I’m helping? I can’t believe it.”
“Don’t get a fat head. I had a few good rounds, but that’s happened before. More than once. We’ll see in a while.”
He sat up straight. “So we can keep doing this?” I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the eagerness he showed.
I nodded, but questioned my sanity as I did it. “For a few more weeks, anyway. I’ll see you after I play several more rounds.”
Sand Crab turned the sound back up. “Make sure it’s after the Open. I’m glued to the tube until then. I can fit you in after that.”
I started to make my escape but turned back after a few steps. “Say, Crabman. What were you writing on that napkin after I left last week?”
He kept staring at the TV. “Stop missing the short ones and I’ll show it to you. Consider it your prize for good behavior. Now scat. I’ve got to send out some good vibes to my boy Rory so he doesn’t let it slip away like at the Masters.”
I waited for more, but he wouldn’t look away from the screen. I could see him peeking sideways at me, but I let it pass. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.
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