In the shadow of the perfect miss, there is more hidden meaning than you can ever imagine…
Golf requires more than anyone has to give—it demands you master the art of the perfect miss. It’s the only game on the planet involving a target, weapons, a box of ammo, and a true aim all the while requiring you to practice missing before every shot…including putting. Missing is so important in golf that some of the greatest players in history have devoted hours of video to the art of missing. In a round of golf most of us miss the ball twice as many times as we hit it…at least.
Shock-and-awe, stuck-on-stupid, and acute HSS (human slack-jaw syndrome)…no one suffers more humiliation off the fairways than the lost souls who make it through the first four holes…except for everyone who steps onto the dark operatic stage known as the 5th tee at Memorial Park Golf Course. This is where it all actually begins: tragedy, comedy, resignation…and beauty.
Our chronic inability to make an early tee time has always yielded a fringe benefit…a spectacular view of Transco Tower rising from the 13th green, just ahead of zero dark thirty (for men of a certain age, it will always be “Transco Tower”).
Walking onto the 17th tee we are always surprised to see this view of “Mystic Pond.” It forces us to reflect on many things: the beauty of the natural world, the miracle of the cosmos, and the ravaging of our pride inflicted by the prior 16 holes. And somehow we still forget for just a moment that it ain’t over yet. None of it.
In the pantheon of great characters in my life, “The Gripper” has a seat at the table with his name on it. He has the perfect grip…the perfect stance…the perfect swing…the perfect name…and of course the perfect miss. The Gripper is even by far the best gambler I’ve ever met. He almost never loses…and that takes talent in no mean proportion when you’re the man with the perfect miss. He grips and rips and never flinches…even with sand swirling in front of his eyes, he stands steady, watching implacably as his ball rises softly from the bunker and floats unerringly toward the cup.
I’ve learned more about the mechanics of golf, how to play it, how to gamble it, how to savor it, from The Gripper than anyone else I’ve ever known or likely will meet. And I’ve learned more about life in the shadow of the perfect miss than I’ll ever remember. This is without a doubt the greatest game ever played.
Memorial Park Golf Course, with Ed Gripp, November 9th 2014...