CHAPTER 52~COTT PRO AM STORY ~1982---WC 1,100
Social prejudges never existed in Cott’s world. He regarded everyone as a snail eating low-life until proven wrong. He believed in capital punishment and wanted executions to take place during grade school recess and televised. On the lighter side, he showed a soft spot for personality disorders and reformed criminals. This, the mind that held mine together, his with a dead bolt, mine looking for the light. He accepted malfunction after malfunction, cheering me on, lifting damaged hope up and down the coast, year after year. I taught him what he knew: some good, some unyielding, and outcomes always deserved. Thank the patron saint of the truly dangerous.
It was amusing to watch him maneuver through life: hustling bets, draining the life out of the tabloid wannabees and chasing older women. Nothing better than seeing him make pro-ams fun for those wanting to rub shoulders with the limelight, just for a day.
Relationships with caddies were crucial. Trusting their every move took the pressure off. Accepting the responsible for their livelihood heaped it all back on. Cott making big tips during pro-ams helped reduce the load.
“WHAT’S ARNIE REALLY LIKE?” That’s the main question pro-am players asked Cott. We needed a few Masters wins before they’d ask about me. Egos wilt watching fans straining to see your name on the bag, usually below the name of whatever vodka refinery that had extended my career.
It became an extra long day, even for a pro-am. Time took on the attitude of the last rationed martini, waiting for tomorrow.
A monstrosity of a man paid the $400 entry fee, knowing he would get his moneys worth. From the moment of introduction until Cott took him to drop off his clubs, the man asked golf questions. Two or three made sense, the rest came from a secret surveillance bunker in his head.
He called himself Bob. He stood tall and thin. Bob wore the too-busy-to-eat look poorly. His complexion resembled a windshield after a long ride through the
Bob wanted to know about the proper thought process for hitting a long iron with a No-See-‘Em in his ear.
I asked, “What time of year?”
I said, “I’ll check my notes and get back ta ya.”
After the round we went to the range to weed out twenty years of bad lessons. It took six minutes for him to explain what he thought about standing over a basic shot. He seemed to think he was onto something when he shared “the benefits of an exaggerated ass-angle on side hill lies.”
I could feel the fungus in my socks gaining confidence but somehow we survived. Bob’s final words, “I’ve always been a big fan of yours MEL. Keep it up.”
The parasites in Cott’s pants acted up, waiting on me to finish helping Bob with his slap shot, ranked way down on Cott’s happy list. Bob, unknowingly, had flapped the unflappable. They headed to the adventures of the parking lot.
All of the zippers on Bob’s bag blew open right before the pilgrims landed. Bob kept enough golf balls jammed in there to open a driving range. To help aggravate Cott, the no-good forgot where he’d parked.
The mood justified Cott’s conviction process. Bob qualified for a low-end spell but Cott recanted.
Still greasing the tip chute, “What kind of heap are we lookin’ for here, BOB?”
“Ah, it’s a classic, a 1955 Buick.”
“Ahhhhhh-ha, one of those beauties with the three holes in the side. Are they for storage?”
Bob’s expression could drag down motivational speakers. Cott, not worried over his ill-timed comment said, “What color is it?”
They walked and walked. Finally, Cott spotted it under a tree at the far end of the lot. “THERE IT IS!”
They shuffled to the car in a communication dead zone. It sat covered in bird warnings. Cott laughed out loud. Bob’s attitude hit a trip wire. “Those fuckin’ birds.” Bob’s huff bent the palm trees.
Cott said, “They did it on purpose.”
Bob made a deflated nod. Cott set the bag down, watching Bob’s brain sift through locked doors with no idea where he’d put his keys.
The search went on for five minutes. Balls and broken tees fell out of every pocket. The nitwit acted as if he’d just been released from Mother-in-Law duty when he found them under an old ham sandwich.
The trunk popped open. Cott jumped back. “BOB, how the hell am I gonna get this bag in there?”
“Let me move a few things for you, son.”
Cott said, “Mickey, I’ve seen a lot. This was really sump-thin’. The guy stuck his head in the trunk. He’d stuffed index cards with twenty years of his swing thoughts in a shoebox. The bas-ted said, ‘There’s a lot of value in there.’ There was one of those HOLD YOUR HEAD STILL machines with the helmet and all the gadgets. He showed me West-Coast-Wedge-School catalogues. Bob was movin’ all of this shit around when I asked him if we should put the bag in the back seat. The guy said, ‘Na, it’s cluttered with useless golf stuff.’ ”
Listening to Cott’s energy accented his dedication to my cause, silently hoping to look the list of critics in the eye one day, the ones who said I couldn’t.
Then Cott said, “The guy wrote an essay on ‘Nine holes I played with my eyes shut.’ ”
“Come-on Cott. You’re makin’ this up.”
“Stay with me Mick. He showed me an eight-degree driver on a seven-iron shaft. He said it worked better south of the equator. There were four sets of Tommy Armour irons, a golf bag full of utility clubs, four back issues of Golf Digest, a dozen box of medium cadet Power Gloves, a cooler full of x-outs, two putter heads from ‘when he could still putt,’ two broken umbrellas, a case of Old Milwaukee empties, a fifth of Jack and six football tickets. The shit-head had a range finder from the fifties, a bottle of Viagra and some old sun screen.”
“Cott, did ya see anything unusual in there?”
“Yeah, he had a bucket full of divots in sandwich bags, labeled with: what course, the date and how the shot affected all of his bets.”
I was making unreasonable promises to the journal-gods in exchange for a few memory cells to kick in when Cott said, “Oh yeah, he had a box of $20 bills. He gave me five of ‘em. Great guy, a little eccentric.”