I read other folk’s stories and say to myself, wow, these guys are good. I won’t ever be on their level. I can’t let that discourage me though. My stories are about the life I’ve led and the people who lived it with me, depending on me to tell our story. I can’t let them down.
My favorite stories to tell are about my brother Gary and I fishing. He was the avid fisherman, not me. Sometimes I tagged along and sometimes I got dragged.
We went fishing out on these rocks (the North Jetties) once. The fish were biting so good that we ignored the warnings of others when the tide changed. Instead of coming back when we should, we just kept on fishing. We were using barnacles for bait to catch sheeps head. We just scraped them off of the rocks and used them for bait, we had a croaker sack full of fish.
People coming in on boats would holler at us to go back before the tide covered the rocks, but we didn’t listen. When we finally decided to heed the warnings it was too late. Where we were standing it was high and dry, but between us and the shore, was underwater. We spent 6 hours waiting for the tide to change. You can imagine the cussing and fussing. Heck we we’re brothers, that’s what we were suppose to do. Sometimes we fought yeah, but we were partners in crime. We would argue, split up and in no time get back together, off to another adventure.
All of these news stories you see on TV about hacking got me to thinking about another story. A fishing story yes but a kinda “hacking” story as well.
When we were kids on the base in Cuba, we had “summer electives” we could participate in. I chose tennis and Gary chose golf. I never amounted to much as a tennis player, but my brother turned out to be a pretty good “hacker”. Way back in the 1200’s, the king of Scotland outlawed the sport of flogging. That’s what golf was called back then. It seems like his archers were spending too much time with the new sport of “flogging,” that they skipped archery practice. The penalty if you got caught “flogging” was pretty harsh, so they reversed the name from “flog” to golf and snuck around and played golf on the down low.
Gary was always an avid flogger. When we were traveling and selling tools, he always wanted to go play on a course that he’d read about in Golfer’s Digest or somewhere. He bribed me to go with him, like “I’ll buy the beer and you can drive the cart.” It was better than sitting in the motel room watching ESPN. Back home, back before we started selling tools, Gary talked me into to giving it a go.
There was a new course called Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, way back before they held the TPC there. Gary wanted to check it out, we started by banging a couple buckets of balls at the driving range. I hit a pretty good drive that bounced off of the 250 yard marker. Gary said I bet you $50 bucks you can’t do that again. He was right. After buying two more buckets of balls and me losing the bet, we decided it was time to try our luck on the links.
I was only good for nine holes, after that I lost interest but not Gary, he wanted to wear it out. I teed off on the back nine, I hooked it to the left a little and my ball went into the trees. A large Live Oak tree had one big branch over hanging the course some and my ball disappeared into it. Then mysteriously two golf balls fell out of the tree and a squirrel. Yep you read it right, a squirrel. I drove the cart up to the spot and there were two golf balls and a Fox Squirrel, dead as a door nail. He was beautiful, the first one I had ever seen in person. Fawn colored with a black mask, a bloody golf ball lying right beside him. Back then Fox Squirrels were on the endangered species list, before anyone could see me, I scooped up the squirrel and the bloody ball and tossed them into the cooler on back of the golf cart. Just about that time, a fairly large fella came charging at me from the front nine (The front nine and back nine ran along side of each other). He was hollering at me ,”Hogan, you got my Hogan, give me back my Hogan punk.”
Well I was from Dinsmore, them was fighting words and he was holding a driver, I didn’t know what the hell a Hogan was but I wasn’t gonna take no crap off of this son of —— (well you know what). I had a driver too (I believe it was a 3 wood). I backed him down and he left, but he came back with the manager, red in the face and still mad about his durn “Hogan”. Come to find out his Hogan was a brand named golf ball. He said he paid $10 bucks for that ball. I told him that was his problem, “I don’t have your damn ball.” I opened up my ball bag and most of my balls had red stripes on them. Gary stepped up between me, him and the manager and said “Hey, I think I saw it roll off into the pond.”
We all walked together to the edge of the water hazard and there were hundreds and hundreds of balls lying at the bottom. Gary was wearing some polarized sunglasses and could see the sandy bass beds spotting the bottom of the pond and each one was loaded with golf balls. We convinced the manager that the guy’s golf ball was among the many that lay at the bottom and that seemed to cool things off. Gary spoke with the manager and made a deal with him that we would come back and dive for the golf balls if he would let us fish for the bass.
The manager agreed to pay us for the balls and allow us to fish early in the mornings, if we would also pull some of the over abundant sawgrass from around the bank, so it would be easier for golfer’s to find their balls. Gary told him okay we’ll do that, but only if you let us come back and play for free.
When we finished for the day and was loading up our gear, I opened the cooler, made sure no one was looking and reached for the last beer, there at the bottom of the cooler, amongst the melted ice, beer and dead squirrel was the still bloody ball and on it was printed the word “Hogan.”
From then on, we were the “Pros from Dover.” Just like in the movie MASH. We took turns diving for balls and pulling up sawgrass, while the other kept an eye out for gators. We also caught lots of bass, I mean big bass. A five pounder was a minnow to us. Other golfers would see us and want some fish. We found new golfing partners, some pretty famous. We made so much money selling the “Hogans” back to the club, that when we showed up to play golf we were wearing the best golfing attire available.
Argyle socks, knickerbockers just like Stuart Payne or was that suppose to be Payne Stewart (?), knitted caps, sleeveless V-neck sweaters, leather gloves, saddle oxford cleats, we were dressed to the “nines.”Me the front nine and Gary the back nine. It still didn’t make me any better of a golfer, but at least it made driving the cart more interesting and instead of drinking Budweiser, we drank Michelobs. After all of the time that has passed, I don’t feel like my little brother is dead, to me he just out on these rocks waiting for the tide to change so he can crawl back over them. I hope he don’t forget the fish.