01 April 2010
I’ve never been a big fan of golf.
Sure, there were plenty of times when I was a little bit younger and a little bit dumber that me and a few of my buddies threw back a half dozen beers a piece and stumbled over to a nearby driving range. And there were plenty of times I got way too competitive with family members and girlfriends during rounds of mini-golf. There were even a few times I tried to hack through 18 holes with an old boss who had a three handicap.
The game has always come across to me like some kind of elitist activity reserved for rich guys and athletes who are good at every other sport anyway. On TV, it’s even worse. And this is coming from a guy who can watch two hours of bowling from the 1980s on ESPN Classic Saturday afternoons.
But golfing video games, well, what kind of player doesn’t enjoy shooting a few rounds? I’ll admit, today’s mainstay of Tiger Woods PGA Tour-Whatever has made things a little more complicated and a little more realistic, but there was a time not too long ago when golf games were little more than pressing a button for power and a button for accuracy.
Like PGA Tour Golf II for the Sega Genesis. At the time it came out, it was a good-looking, easy to play game that was at least as good or better than any other sports simulation on the market. I never owned the game, instead I was lucky enough to borrow it for about a year from one of my dad’s softball buddies.
Yes, I have plenty of memories from making eagles, winning tournaments and beating my dad (of course). None of these memories, however, can rival the time my dad’s pal came to take his game back.
It was Halloween, 1990-something. Me and my sister, we weren’t even teenagers, so my parents would always take us out trick or treating. For the other kids, we left a basket of candy outside our house with a note reading “Please Take One.” You know, the notes everyone ignores before dumping 50 snack-sized Snickers bars into their pillow case.
For a few years though, we had a secret weapon. Around the corner from my front door, the driveway was pitch black, like a cave. A cat couldn’t see into that abyss.
That’s where we set the trap.
Now you might not believe this and I don’t blame you for being skeptical, but the story I’m about to tell you is entirely true and I have witnesses. Growing up, our family pet was a rottweiler topping 160 pounds named Butkus. He was huge and intimidating and could have eaten a grown man alive. He was also the most gentle, calm animal I’ve ever known. Most importantly, he was also remarkably intelligent.
So when my dad’s softball buddy came by the house to pick-up his game, he reached down into the little bowl outside out front door and took a candy bar. That’s when Butkus peered his gigantic head around the corner, staring down the right-center fielder.
I remember it clear as day, the guy, his name was Scotty, he looks at my dad and goes “I wonder what will happen if I take two?”
His hand wasn’t halfway towards the bowl for seconds when Butkus came charging around the corner, tied to a rope that stopped him about a foot from the dish. His bark echoed through the neighborhood and Scotty jumped about five feet back before landing face-up on the ground.
Over the years, I saw this repeated more times than I can count.
Now I’m not sure how my dog learned that people should adhere to the honor system of simply taking one. But he did. And no matter how long we would be gone on Halloween, our dish was never empty at the end of the night.
They say you’re not supposed to give dogs chocolate and while that may be true, every Halloween we gave Butkus a couple Snickers bars for a job well done.
By George Morse