What a fortuitous moment of serendipity today. It was a pristine day in the greater Philadelphia area. Not only was the weather an absolute gem, but 1/2 of the albatross weighing down our beloved Sixers was removed of his duties late Thursday morning. Things were really looking up. What else to do on such an afternoon? Well, play golf, of course. I piloted the whip over to Dog Track Golf and Polo Club for a quick eighteen. The old game still needs to be a little thawed out as they say, but I was out there swinging hard. The rest will eventually take care of itself. Things were going pretty easy and breezy until about the sixteenth tee when out of nowhere this cart comes flying up over the hill in a cloud of dust. My friend and I step back and take in the sight. Out of the cart wobbles this 5′ 4″ character wearing a giant Daiwa visor and representing the worst case of bald head sunburn I’ve ever seen. I can’t help but think the guy looks a lot like Jeff Van Gundy.
VAN GUNDY: Mind if I join you guys for the last couple. I’m kind of in a hurry here.
(Van Gundy shuffles onto the tee. He’s rocking a straight 90s wide-stripe golf shirt with sleeves that come down to his forearms and a wrinkled pair of cuffed khakis that almost swallow his bright white sneaker cleats)
ME (under my breath to my friend): Is that Jeff Van Gundy?
VAN GUNDY: Damn straight it’s me.
(Van Gunds gives us both dead fish handshakes, and at this point I notice the giant war club he’s dragging behind him)
ME (Pointing at the driver): Is that Jack Hamm’s “The Hammer” you’re wielding there?
VAN GUNDY: This old gal? This is a Killer Bee son. It’s 56-inches long.
(Van Gundy stands the driver up so I can see it, and the top of the grip tucks neatly under the brim of his visor)
ME: Oh sweet, what’s that made of? Notanium?
VAN GUNDY: US Steel, baby. Mind if I lead us out?
ME: By all means.
(Van Gundy tees his ball up on this giant contraption. It’s a good six inches off the ground. He sets up to the ball, all spread out and nine miles away with this flag pole he’s swinging. He takes two waggles, jerks it back about waist high, whips it through, and comes dead underneath it. He obliterates the tee. The ball drops softly onto the tee box.)
VAN GUNDY: Where’d that go?
ME: You’re on the short grass.
(It takes Gundy a second to see the ball sitting there, and when he does he goes off on a wild streak of profanity. For a second I think he’s going to snap the Killer Bee over his knee, but he gathers himself, and re-tees. This time he starts it dead left, and shapes one back into the right rough about 165 out.)
(Van Gundy seems immensely satisfied with himself. I let him admire for a moment before shoving him out of the way, and teeing off myself. I rip a knee high trap-pull into the left rough. Ball speed? 170 mph. Launch angle? 1.4 degrees.)
VAN GUNDY: Why don’t you ride with me kid, I can help you with that hook.
(I’m about to correct him, tell him it was a rope-smother draw, but instead I just get in the cart. When we sit down, I have an unfortunate look at his sunburned head. He catches me staring, and I realize I have to say something.)
ME: So, your parents must be wildly unattractive.
VAN GUNDY: What’s that now?
(Van Gundy is working on his scorecard. Quick math on my part reveals he has himself at 4-under par)
ME: I said, so how close did you actually come to biting Alonzo Mourning’s ankle?
VAN GUNDY: Oh, well. Pretty close. Damn close. Heat of the moment.
(Van Gundy floors it, and drives up the fairway. About 100 yards past his ball, he stops the cart and gets out)
VAN GUNDY: Somebody must of picked mine up.
(Van Gundy tosses a ball onto the fairway, and I look around, not seeing another group within three holes of us.)
ME: I think it’s about a 9-hybrid back in the other direction.
VAN GUNDY: Horse sh*t, I nutted it.
(Van Gundy skulls a grounder up the fairway, jumps back in the cart and we head over to my ball. Of course my clubs are on the other cart, I’m standing there waiting for my buddy to hit and drive over. Van Gundy get impatient.)
VAN GUNDY: What the hell you waiting for? Hit one of my clubs.
( I look into the bag of mis-matched garbage. I need a 7-iron, and find a Cleveland VAS. Morbid curiosity makes me hit the thing. I safety chunk it onto the front fringe. I get back into the cart.)
ME: So, what’d you think about Eddie Jordan getting canned?
VAN GUNDY: Who?
ME: The Sixers coach.
VAN GUNDY: Are they in the D-League?
ME: I don’t know to be honest with you.
(Van Gundy watches my friend hit up onto the green, and then motors along the cart path. We pass his ball again. He hops out of the cart, unzips a pocket of his bag, and takes out a ball. I exchange a couple glances with my friend, and then we both watch Van Gundy saunter over to about 15 feet from the pin, and mark an imaginary ball.)
ME: Nice shot in there.
VAN GUNDY: Wait’ll you see me putt.
(Van Gundy is plumb-bobbing with the first Teardrop putter I’ve seen in 20 years. He has one eye closed tightly, and I realize for the first time that his fly is down. I wobble one up to about 4 feet and throw a dot on it, my friend lags it up and taps in for par. Van Gundy puts his ball down a good yard ahead of his coin, and then steps away.)
ME: Fifty Bucks says you miss.
VAN GUNDY: Bank that.
(Van Gundy gives his putt a rap, and its going to miss by a foot, but he chases it to the hole, and does the triple tap-in.)
VAN GUNDY: Bingo! You can owe me, boy.
(I’m stifling laughter as I put my ball back down for my par putt. As I line it up, Van Gundy jams the flag in the hole, and walks straight through my line.)
VAN GUNDY: Let’s keep it movin’ ladies.
( I guess this passes for “that’s good” in Van Gundy speak, and we go back over to the carts. He coaxes me into his again.)
ME: What’s the hurry anyway? You meeting with the Sixers or what?
VAN GUNDY: The Sixers? F*ck no. I’m here to go shopping with Jay Wright.