Hoof and Mouth Disease - Whisky Run Golf Club

Hoof and Mouth Disease

Hoof & Mouth Disease

Alexander Pope penned many famous quotations in his 1706 edition of “An Essay on Criticism” however the one that I have truly adopted is “to err is human, to forgive divine.” As most of us mere mortals know (with the exception of Fred and Darryl they are in a league all their own) mistakes fall upon us from time to time. Sometimes those mistakes are of our own choosing. Our freedom to choose is, in my opinion, an eternal principle, but coupled with that freedom to choose, is the necessity to accept the consequences of our actions. Those consequences are not up for debate and are meted out with precise precision after each choice is made. It is not our response to the problem but how we navigate through it that truly counts. Ok, enough with the philosophy, I think you get my point.

Early on in my career as a young golf professional I was taught a valuable lesson from non-other than my 18-hole ladies. These ladies cherished the game as much as I did, and they were all champions to me. It was because of that love for the game that I, and my staff, decided to make their Club Championship something special. We decided to give them a, live up to the minute leaderboard experience for their championship.

The idea was simple and sound. (remember that word ‘sound’ it comes up again later) We put our portable scoreboard behind the 18th green and Bubba Cool was selected to man the board as I recall. Rodney and I would be dispatched to follow along with the last two groups since the odds of the champion coming out of one of them were greatest. While tagging along and acting not only as a conduit to the scoreboard by radioing in the scores for the last hole completed, we also acted as a Rules Official for each group.

As fate would have it on that hot August afternoon my group, being the last, and not wanting to be rushed, played the final 9 holes in just over 2 ½ hours. (which is funny considering that on a normal day these ladies could play 18 holes in less than 3 hours, but the championship did bring out the competitive spirit in them) So it was a welcome relief when they finished the 17th hole and headed to the 18th tee. As I marched up and radioed the scores to Bubba Cool, I was overcome with emotion and finished my transmission with what I thought was a clever quip on the final scene about to unfold. I mused the saying, which today would have sent millennial's running for a “safe zone”, I said, quite eloquently I thought, “Bubba, the cows are heading to the barn.

Since I was raised on a farm and had on numerous occasions accompanied my grandfather in herding the cows into the barn for the evening, I really thought nothing of the saying. Oh, was I wrong! Since you see, Bubba Cool had to record the scores that where transmitted so he kept his radio on full volume. You guessed it; my colourful quip was heard by all the 18-hole ladies that surrounded the 18th green and the scoreboard.

Here is where I learned the saying, “to err is human, to forgive divine.” On my walk up to the green I was greeted not with smiling faces as expected, but rather something akin to a Klingon death stare. If looks could kill, I was a dead man walking!

Now the natural thing for the ladies to do was to inform the 3 ladies I was accompanying on to the green of my non-PC comment. Once I clued into what was starting to transpire, my only thought was how do I resign gracefully? Then the miracle of miracles began to unfold, one of my ladies took charge of the situation before it erupted into a feeding frenzy with myself being the main course. This wonderful lady quickly put an end to the saga by stating with absolute certitude, “come on now, we all know Jeff, he meant nothing more than a silly attempt at humour and nothing more! I am not offended in the least! Now come on, we have some trophies to hand out and some late afternoon beverages to consume.

​​And with that comment, the end of the controversy was relegated to the history books but the lessons I learned have stayed with me to this day; never speak over an open mic for all to hear, and forgiveness knows no bounds. As my career stopped flashing before my eyes I truly came to understand the meaning of “to forgive is divine.


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