July 24, 2004

Charm, niceness assessed.

Yesterday, as noted here, I was declared a lucky charm. Today, I returned to Milwaukee for round 3 of the U.S. Bank Championship--a PGA golf tournament, though it sounds like a lot of banks having a fight!--but things did not go so well. Cliff (Kresge, my nephew) was 5 over today and fell from 39th to 75th place. My claim to charm is destroyed. The saving grace was that Cliff made a phenomenal shot in front of the big crowd at the 18th hole. After having such a bad day overall, on the 18th hole, he made his second shot into a horribly deep sand trap clear across the green from the hole. I was sitting in the bleachers, and felt awful to see him preparing to shoot: only his head and shoulders were visible above the grassy overhanging fringe of the green. How bad do things have to be? He shoots, the ball kicks up out of the trap and onto the green, rolls the length of the green and into the hole! The crowd goes wild. It was a par 5 hole, so that was an eagle!

I arrived at the golf course early today. With half an hour until tee time, I sat on a picnic bench to write some notes. One of the officials--one of the men who hold up the "quiet" signs when the golfers are shooting--comes over to me and says, "Ma'am, I'm sorry, you can't sit there." I see the bench is inside the rope, though the rope is on the ground at the moment, and it's quite close to the green. "Oh, I'm sorry," I say, embarrassed. "That's okay," he says in the extremely nice way people performing various functions around the golf course always have. People are so polite here. I'm an outsider observing the golf ethic: I have never played golf, and I am only interested in it because of my nephew. But I'm impressed by the super-niceness everyone embraces on the golf course during professional tournaments. People are quiet and maintain a thoroughly restrained manner. No one talks when the "quiet" sign is raised. In fact, there is only a little very quiet talking when you're allowed to talk. No one would ever do anything even close to, say, calling out "Miss!" when a player is shooting or laughing when a player misses an easy shot. It's just unthinkable. You never notice anyone rooting against someone. Even though it helps your guy when another guy misses a shot, you never hear the slightest indication of satisfaction. It hurts your guy when another guy makes a shot, and you never hear the slightest whisper of regret. Everyone claps when anyone makes a good shot. Go to a golf tournament, and even if you tend to think the golf manner is staid or repressed or geriatric or phony or whatever, you'll find yourself acting the same way too. You'll hold back when an official makes a little hand motion to signal that you need to wait for the players to cross one of the little bridges over a water hazard, and when the official motions to you that you may now cross the bridge, you'll say to him, "Thank you."

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