September 7, 2007
“What is it with you and this pond?”
Rich Phillips asked me that very good question on a recent Saturday, and I didn’t have a good answer for him.
This wasn’t the first time he had been with me and observed something unusual involving the little stream that splits Shawnee Country Club, near the bridge that golfers use to reach the white and blue tees for the 18th hole.
When he asked me that question, however, I was in no position to correct him about it actually being a stream, and not really a pond.
Before that point in the round, things had gone my way very nicely. I played the front nine at only four over par, and my back nine was nearly as good. I had just hit a little chip shot onto the seventeenth green, and had a reasonable opportunity to make a one-putt par on the hole.
Before attempting the putt, I pushed my three-wheeled golf cart past the 17th green and onto the paved cart path separating it from the red tee box for the 18th hole. The path wound past that tee, across the bridge, and up toward the white tees we’d be playing next.
It’s common among the Shawnee golfers to leave their carts near the red tees, and walk to the back tees for their last drive of the day.
It’s less common for their golf carts to keep rolling downhill.
I hadn’t noticed that my cart hadn’t stopped where I planned, until Phillips called out to me from his stance on the 17th green.
I turned and ran toward the cart, and managed to reach within 15 feet of catching it when the cart pitched forward and plunged into the water, golf bag first.
For some reason I noticed the cart’s back tires spinning in the air. Then I heard an ominous buzzing noise from inside the bag.
I pulled the bag and cart out of the water, frantically unzipped a compartment, and pulled out my cell phone.
The long buzz stopped as the phone’s battery shorted out completely.
After making sure the cart wasn’t going to move any more, I returned to the 17th green for what turned out to be a two-putt bogey.
Phillips and Dave Pyne, our playing partner, just looked and laughed, and then Phillips asked me that question.
As I said, he knew the history, because he was there when it happened.
Almost two years ago to the day, I was playing with him and two others when I tried to jump across the same stream at almost the same spot, but from the other side.
For those who don’t remember this story from a prior column, here’s what happened.
My left foot landed first, about a foot or so past the far side creek edge. It immediately sank down a foot and a half deep, into the muck I didn’t know was there when I jumped.
I felt myself falling forward, as both feet then left the ground.
I remember feeling the impact on my left shoulder and, soon after, my left rump as I rolled up the slope to a stop a few feet away. Mud and water coated my left leg and my clothes.
As Phillips said at the time, “I hear a commotion and I turn around, and the next thing I see is Fritz’s a** up in the air, spinning. It’s the damndest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Therefore, it was only natural for Phillips to ask me that question on this new occasion.
As for the phone, it’s fine now, thanks to the folks at Atlantic Cellular. An overnight stay on a heating pad dried out the phone’s circuitry, and all I needed was a new battery.
Chase Kocher of Atlantic Cellular told me that a lot of their customers somehow manage to drown their cell phones—usually in swimming pools or by spilling their drinks and such.
Having one dunked in a stream while stuck inside a golf cart, however, is admittedly a bit unusual.