I came out of my funk with a start when I heard that rasping laugh. I’d been staring out the window too long and lost track of time. Now I had to pay for getting lost in my own black thoughts. The Sand Crab was moving in for the kill.
“Where you been, Doc?” he asked. “I thought you were going to report again last week.” He slid into the empty chair at my table, neatly blocking any chance I had of an easy exit.
“I just got busy, Crabpot. I’ve been keeping track of putts and greens in regulation, though. I’ve done pretty good. Eleven out of my last twelve rounds at 80 or below, nine of them in the 70s. The most consecutive rounds in the 70s I’ve ever had, so not bad for me.”
He nodded as he scratched the side of his nose. “So why’re you looking like your best friend just died? Troubles with the little lady? Your cat run away or something?”
“No. I just finished the worst round I’ve had in a year or more. That string of scores I told you about didn’t include my round this morning.”
The Sand Crab leaned over the table like a drug dealer about to make me an offer. “So what’d you shoot? Eighty-five? Eighty-eight?”
I leaned in toward him. “I shot ninety-one, Crabman. Ninety-one.” I was almost whispering.
He recoiled back and stared at me in mock amazement. Then he started laughing. “Ninety-one!” He was laughing so hard he was nearly shouting. “Ninety-one! So that’s why you’re staring out at that beautiful day like you’ve just come from a funeral. You thought you had scores like that out of your system, huh?”
I started to say yes, but realized that would sound ridiculous. When I stayed silent, Sand Crab leaned back in toward me.
“You fiddle around on the computer, right?” When I nodded, he went on. “Me too. I saw this post over at The Armchair Golfer. Something from a real popular Golf Digest article and a book by Bob Rotella. You know him, I’m sure, you being a psychologist and all that.”
“I know of him, sure. He does good stuff.”
“Right. Well, some of the things in that article were about not letting yourself get upset about anything on the golf course. You’re out there to have fun, not shoot a score. It’s the process, not the result. You know all that stuff, right?”
I smiled and nodded. “Sure. But it’s hard to remember when you’re playing like I was.”
“And you thought what would happen? Your round would go down in history with Van de Velde’s finish at the Open? They’d mention your score in the same breath as McIlroy’s back nine on Sunday at Augusta? You ain’t good enough to get that upset over a bad round, Doc.”
I looked at The Sand Crab, not sure whether to feel insulted. He took advantage of my silence again.
“You’re not good enough. Remember that. Nobody else cares what you shot. And they’ve seen you play crappy before.”
I stared at him in amazement. He was making me feel better and insulting me at the same time. “You are a piece of work, Crabman. Let me buy you a beer.”
“I thought you’d never ask. And while we’re waiting, you can tell me about that round. I’m short on entertainment today.”