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12 Oct 2003

You see them everywhere, especially around Davis. All those miniature golf places. There is Scandia which is south of us--big sleeping beauty type castle, all sorts of strange creatures to hit a ball into or around. There is another one near where Ned works, which is dominated by a huge windmill. At Lake Tahoe there is a dinosaur world, where you hit balls into prehistoric beings. I don't even want to think about the variations in So. California.

Miniature golf is not my sport.

Well, sport is not my sport. I have never been coordinated enough to play any organized sport. Other than biking, I've never even been passable at anything, but get me on a miniature golf course and you have good fodder for a good slapstick comedy.

I can remember taking the kids...and later, foreign students...miniature golfing. Everyone had a great time, except me. They were all laughing at how totally uncoordinated I was, how I exceeded the maximum for every hole, and I was playing along, feeling like I wanted to crawl into one of the holes myself.

So I have been less than chomping at the bit ever since Janne and Chris suggested that we go out some moring, have a nice breakfast and then do "putt-putt golf." But this is a trip about not saying "no" (not even to the sardine, olive and ricotta sandwich this afternoon), and so I said that yes, I would love to go miniature golfing.

If nothing else, I figured it would give the girls a laugh and make great fodder for a journal entry.

We went to Botanic Golf Gardens, which is a far cry from the plastic-and-fantasy miniature golf places that I'm accustomed to.

The setting is lovely, full of beautiful flowers, birds, ponds, waterfalls, and putting greens. Before we went out to play, we had a lovely brunch on the terrace (just before a party of 50 arrived for a combination breakfast/christening).

Instead of garish plastic obstacles, each of the holes here is set off by brick or rock, with obstacles being strategically placed bars or tunnels, but always with the green setting and flowers everywhere.

We paid our fees, got our clubs and proceeded to the first tee. Mercifully, we were the second group to go round, and we pretty much had each tee to ourselves, without feeling other players were breathing down our necks.

They told me to go first, and I took a deep breath and put my ball down. This was probably going to be very embarrassing, but I was going to have fun. I was sure all these women were much more coordinated than I. But Peggy has been making fun of me for five weeks, so why deny her the chance today?

I took my stance and hit the ball--looking ahead, like golfers do, knowing full well that I didn't have a clue what the hell I was doing and couldn't aim to save my soul. Well, the first ball I hit didn't go flying out of the green, so it wasn't that bad. It was a par 2 hole and it took me 4 hits to get it in the hole. Coulda been worse. Chris followed me and took 3 shots. Janne followed her and took three shots. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. Peggy stepped up. OK...I was in for it now. But no, it took her 4 shots as well. I was very encouraged. (She must have made quite a sight too; even the kookaburra laughed!)

Janne went first on the second hole and did the par 2 in 2 shots. Chris followed and took 4 shots. Hmmm...maybe they weren't better than me after all. I went next. THREE! I had beaten Chris. Then Peggy took her turn. First she had to clean off the green because, neatik that she is, it bothered her to be putting on a messy green. She also felt that cleaning debris off the green would improve her game. Five It took her five tries to sink the ball.

I was not very sympathetic. In fact, one may say that I gloated a bit.

By now I was feeling more confident that I wouldn't totally embarrass myself. On the third hole, Janne took 3 shots for the par 2. Chris made par. Peggy and I each took 3.

Then came the fourth hole. Another par 2. The scores? 2 for Janne, 2 for Chris. 3 for Peggy and....a hole in one for me!!!

I was now downright cocky. I held my own throughout the game. On the 6th hole, a par 3, Janne hit par, and Chris took 4, Peggy hit 5 and I did it in 2, one under par.

We had a wonderful time completing the 18 holes, and we laughed a lot. It was good that none of us took it seriously.

Peggy continued to clean the greens each time but somehow it didn't seem to help her game anyway.

On the 16th hole, Janne got her own hole in one. (Peggy took 7 hits on that hole, as did Chris; I got it in 4).

By the time we got to the last two holes, we were in plain sight of the people eating at the cafe, who enjoyed our antics. Peggy got out her Panasonic camera to take movies of all four of us hitting on the last hole (7 for Janne, 5 for Peggy, 4 for Chris and me on this par 2 hole!).

When it was over, Janne, as the big winner, got to buy us all coffee and muffins as we sat on the terrace looking at our movies and adding up the scores.

On the whole I didn't do too damn bad and I had an absolute ball. Terrific way to spend the morning. And what's even better, Peggy got all the greens clean and neat for the players to follow.

The afternoon was spent quietly, napping, eating, washing, and going over photos on the computer. We realize that the time is growing short, that we have a buttload of photos that have to be consolidated so I can take my own copies home so I can make slide shows ('cause we know it will be a cold day in hell before Peggy gets around to making any!).

Really a very nice day. Better than I might have expected, given that I had virtually no sleep at all last night, due first to the next door neighbors having a very loud gathering, and then just to general insomnia that had me up chatting with Steve on Instant Messaging at 2 a.m., and reading at 3 a.m. Peggy had a hard time sleeping too and we got the dogs out for a walk before 6 a.m. this morning.

ADDENDUM: As I was posting this, Chris and Janne came round to let us know that Chris had just won a $4,000 diamond on a radio contest. She was beaming--she's been entering contests forever and it finally paid off. We're going out for a "last supper" on Friday, before I leave, to celebrate.

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