Thanks to Johari for sparking this idea.
Harold Penworth was a golf enthusiast. He loved to play golf, it was (excuse the pun) his driving passion. He used to say, “I hope I die on the course. Then I’d be in golf heaven.”
At one point in his younger days, he considered going pro. But then reality, and his father, reminded him that he needed to be successful at a job that paid money in order to support his future wife and family.
But golf could help.
Harold, as many others were, was instructed to learn to play the game. They said, “Many agreements are reached before the 18th hole,” “if you want to succeed in this company, you’d better play golf,” and “If you play golf, you’ll move up the corporate ladder.” They, the pundits who hand out that advice, were mostly right. Harold did play golf with his co-workers, bosses, and potential clients. He did move up in the corporate world. And he even met his wife in the Country Club.
The future Mrs. Penworth’s game was more tennis than golf, but she tried it; for the pundits also told women to play golf. The corporate wives would play together, and discuss luncheons they were putting on for their corporate husbands. Mary Penworth might have climbed the corporate ladder, if she hadn’t decided to marry Mr. Penworth and be a mother.
After a few years, the Penworths moved to a neighborhood that bordered a golf course, so that Harold could continue practicing his game. Their house sat on the edge of the front nine, and Harold taught his sons how to putt in the backyard.
As their children grew, Harold and Mary settled into their Country Club life. Mary would play tennis, and take the boys to the pool, and Harold would get a quick nine holes in before going to work. They’d attend events held at the clubhouse and fundraisers for whatever worthy cause the corporate wives wanted to support. Eventually, their eldest son has his wedding reception there.
Sometime after the marriage of their second son and the birth of their first grandchild, Mary began to feel empty. Many of the corporate wives had moved on or changed to younger versions of themselves, and it hurt to play more than a few games of tennis. Her doubles partner died from a stroke one afternoon, which got Mary to thinking.
Harold, on the other hand, was very happy to be involved with his game. He watched the big match ups on t.v., went to local tournaments, and became visibly distressed when one of his heroes would miss an easy shot. If he noticed Mary’s lessening support of his habit, he never spoke of it.
Harold’s time for retirement came, and he gratefully took the final paycheck and immediately bought a new set of clubs. Mary, who had mentioned that they might take that money and go visit their youngest son and his family in Hawaii, hid her displeasure at his choice in a bottle of vodka.
One fine spring day, Harold became acutely aware of his wife’s dissatisfaction with their current existence.
Mary threw his golf clubs, no small feat considering she was only slightly taller than the golf bag and weighed just as much, at him when he mentioned that he needed new golf shoes.
“Get out,” she said, “and take your silly game with you.”
So he did. He met up with his buddies, all retired and pleased to be able to play the game all day without having to spend a few hours in a suit or at the office, commiserated with him.
They were out on the back nine, with only two holes left, when Harold felt a strange pain in his arm. Probably just a cramp, he thought, and took his swing. Between the up swing and the down, his heart stopped pumping. His last swing netted him a hole in one, but he didn’t live to see it.
The course manager was quite upset but the ambulance’s insistence that it drive on the grass.
Mary’s response, after the funeral and all the well-wishers had cleared off, and her children had returned to their respective homes, was to take Harold’s ashes, lovingly stored in a golf trophy that Harold had won when he was in his 20’s, out to the sand trap on the fifth hole and dump them.
She packed her things, sold the house, and moved to a small cottage down the street from her son in Hawaii, never to set off on a golf course again.
Harold, much to his dismay, found himself not in heaven, not even in golf heaven, but stuck in the sand trap, unable to dig himself out. His wedge could never quiet get under the ball, and he would swing and swing for hours.
At the clubhouse, a rumor turned into legend. Local pros would take newbies out and laugh when they got stuck on the fifth hole sand trap. It was haunted. It was cursed.
“Once you got a ball in, you might as well take the penalty, because you’ll never get it out.”