Frank T Bird
Fear and Loathing At St Andrew's
My friends and I took a trip at the home of golf
It’s ten am at Golf Mecca.
I meet up with Gary and Tim. We take selfies to start the day — I look like a drug dealer in golf clothes. Unbelievable.
It’s as windy as Lucifer’s anus, and I’m at some racetrack without horses. Do they send the horses out when the race starts? I see every atom of this racecourse, and each atom is a horse. We can’t see the horses because the horses are the atoms of the racecourse. Now it makes sense.
Tim reminds me that we are playing golf at St Andrew’s. He’s right.
Somehow Gary makes it back from the kiosk with antarctic water for everyone in this antarctic weather.
Is the shop or Gary to blame for this faux pas? Yeah, he should have brought hot tea, but perhaps everyone drinks iced water here. Maybe it’s in the rules. This is a prestigious club, after all.
I realise the weather determines the water temperature, not Gary or the shop.
“That’s quite profound,” I say out loud. Then I remember the fridge and say, “Nature, you no longer get to decide that.” I laugh uncontrollably.
Tim tells me to get up off the floor and that I'm making a damn fool out of myself. I don’t get why he is saying damn fool. I’ve never heard him say the words damn fool until this conversation.
I should know where I am and who I am, but I don’t. Then the wind changes and I remember we are playing golf at St Andrew’s. Im feeling fine. I know where I am. I know who I am.
Tim asks whose shot it is, proving he has lost it too, since we are still sitting in the cafe. He was getting all big-headed about telling me it wasn’t a racecourse and there were no horses.
“Now, who looks like a fool?” I shout at him.
It’s raining, and each drop feels like a tiny electric shock as it hits me.
I try and hold it together, but my body is filling up with electricity from these tiny shocks. I’m like a Tesla battery filled with electric horses, and they are all neighing electrically. I need them to stop.
“Do you feel the electric horses?” I ask.
Gary says something, but I don’t hear because I realise I've been staring with vast black eyes at a man sitting with his family. They are eating sandwiches, and he keeps staring back at me as if he knows me.
Is it my Dad? I try to think if he came to the racecourse with us, but it’s impossible to remember.
Maybe Dad got us some sandwiches from the kiosk, and I wonder what flavour they are. They could be egg, perhaps even curried egg cos the filling is so yellow — very yellow, actually. Luminous yellow shirts — it’s some coach and his players doing laundry.
No egg sandwiches. Damn.
There‘s’ no family either, just players. But the coach is waving at me. Maybe it is my Dad.
“Did my Dad come with us?” I ask the others.
Tim shakes his head. Gary shrugs.
I look again. It’s not even a coach with players. A staff member is picking up white towels with yellow labels.
Gary says we need to get a grip.
He has said nothing else to this point, and I want to explain to him that the electric horses and the curried egg were life-changing moments for me.
I notice he's wearing black, and it reminds me that we are playing golf with Gary Player at St Andrew’s. How did we get here again? Did we win it as a competition prize or something? And whose shot is it? Is it Gary’s? Are we playing a round with Gary, or is he just giving us lessons?
Gary asks whose shot it is, so we must be playing a round.
“Mr Player,” I say. “Excuse me, Mr Player?”
“Why are you calling me Mr Player?” Gary says.
“Sorry, do you mind if I call you Gary then?”
“Of course, you can call me Gary Frank. It’s my name.”
Garifrank. What does he mean by that?
“You know you don’t have to do these formal introductions before teeing off,” Tim says. “It’s not compulsory, but anyway, I’m Tim.” He holds his hand out, and I shake it, then Gary’s. It’s very formal, like a business meeting. Then we all laugh because nobody knows why we are shaking hands.
Tim asks whose shot it is again. I think we need to sit down for a bit. I’m feeling tired, and we need to get our heads straight. I look around for one of those benches they put at tees for you to rest on between holes, but I can’t find one because we're still sitting at the cafe.
Powerful Celtic music is playing.
Of course, it is. This is Scotland. They play this music everywhere in Scotland.
“I love those rumtatumptarumbtatumptarumpta drums,” I say. “It makes me want to dance a jig right here.” I stand up and start twerking.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Tim asks.
“I’m doing a traditional Celtic JIG. FUCK. I love this music.”
Gary joins in with the twerking. That’s what happens. This type of music gets you. It’s like that scene in Titanic when they are dancing. Gary and I are twerking in the cafe, and it’s life-changing.
Tim points out that there is no music but just the sound of the rain and the wind. I stop and listen. He's right. That’s unbelievable.
He says we should go and tee off, and we put all our faith behind him, following him into the green abyss. Tim asks where we are going, and I have no idea until I see a tee box with a number one.
“We are teeing off, you damn fool,” I say.
There are people already playing the first tee.
“What is this?” I ask the others.
“The club must have double-booked us,” Tim says, and everyone agrees.
“EXCUSE ME. We've booked this tee,” I say just as a woman in her sixties is teeing off. She shanks the ball into the bushes and glares at us.
“Yes, we booked it,” Gary says. “On the, on the — ”
We should have stayed at the cafe. Now we're in trouble. We're standing in a field, and none of us knows why we are here.
“We are playing golf at St Andrew’s,” Tim yells, punching the air in victory.
Gary and I agree and celebrate like Tim is the captain of our team, and we have just won something. We are jumping up and down and hugging each other. Gary starts twerking to the Celtic music again.
“What did we win?” Tim asks.
A man with a white beard, a military-type green vest and aviator sunglasses comes up.
We all just stand there, frozen with fear.
“Now, what the hell is this?” he says in an American accent.
For a moment, I think I’m in the military and this is some kind of training camp. I adjust my posture and try to stand in a very straight line next to Gary and Tim.
“Sir, YES, SIR,” Gary shouts. He obviously thinks the same. Tim is half with us but is not sure. His eyes dart all over the place, and he says,
“I didn’t sign up for this.”
We all crease over with laughter.
“You guys are off your rockers.” the Sergeant Major says. “You better come around with us, or I think you might get kicked off.”
It’s not funny now. I feel like the military police are arresting me. I know Gary and Tim feel the same cos they are both standing to attention with looks of pale terror on their faces.
Get a grip on yourself. This isn’t military prison. It’s golf.
I remember what golf is. I remember who I am. I remember that I’m playing golf at St Andrew’s, and I start to tell the others, but the Sergeant Major shushes me aggressively and then steps over his ball to tee off.
All three of us leap in fright at the terrible sound as he hits the ball. Gary hits the deck and covers his head with his hands.
The ball starts low, rises higher and higher, and goes further and further. It seems to go forever. Almost a minute later, it’s still going. Now it’s my turn.
“Well, go on then, you hoodlum”, says the woman.
This is easy. I know I need a tee first, and they are in my golf bag.
They were in this side pocket, or maybe they are in the front pocket. No, that’s all the balls. Wow, there are so many of them and so many tiny dots. Each dot has a horse at its centre, and then each horse has a horse within a horse, then a golfball. They are layered in various patterns. My whole body is made of golf balls, and Im filled with bliss. A horse and a golf ball, and my own body are all the same thing.
I love golf. I am golf
The Sergeant Major shoves me out of the way.
“Move, you stoned bastard,” he says, and I wonder how long I’ve been rummaging around in there. He effortlessly grabs a ball and tee from my bag and then hands them to me. I’m okay with this. I stick the tee and the ball in the ground — that’s the easy part.
I stand over the ball, trying to remember what to do next. I think I have to take a stance, so I squat a little with a straight back. Now —
There's a tap on my shoulder, and the Sergeant Major hands me a driver.
I look back at the others. Tim is still standing to attention in sheer fright. He is pale white with tears flowing down his face. Gary is still on the ground covering his head.
I’ve never been so terrified in my entire life.