[Photoset] When I first became an avid fan of the Nationals and started pouring out my mostly inane thoughts on this here website, I would have just died to think I might have an opportunity one day to spend the better part of a day golfing with one of the players. Oh wait, I don’t golf. So what I mean is, spending the day following him, the #2 golf instructor in Maryland according to Golf Digest 2007-2008, my husband, and friend around an 18 hole course with camera in hand. I also wouldn’t have believed it, even if I dreamed it. Yesterday it really happened with that player being pitcher Joel Hanrahan, thanks to volunteering his time for a charity auction Mr. Chatter won in support of Chartese Burnett’s fundraising drive for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Golf Pro Harvey Haddock, who also generously volunteered his time and expertise, rounded out the foursome. And wow, was it awesome! Not only for me, but for my husband and our friend, who the experience was really about. As we rehashed the day over our weekly Mojito Monday gathering on their patio last night, the boys were still glowing. Me, I had never played on a golf course or even walked/rode one before, so the entire experience from the feel of the buzz-cut squishy wet putting greens (hey, it’s not artificial turf like miniature golf!) to the Divot Mix containers was entirely new for me and made for some interesting observations. Plus, I couldn’t wait to drive a cart, another first for me.
(Group shot before the round began courtesy of Andrew)
I carried my camera around because, well, it’s what I do and a hard habit to break! I hoped it wouldn’t make anyone nervous or self-conscious. I found photographing golf is not quite as easy as baseball. In baseball, there are always people involved in the great plays. In golf, the ball is usually traveling on its own and not very exciting to look at in a still shot. All the great shots are of guys in the rough or hitting out of sand traps, so don’t exactly showcase their athletic prowess. At one point, I brought out the Flip video camera, but Hanrahan seemed a little leery of appearing on YouTube in a That’s Chat’s Nats episode, so I stuck it back in my pocket. He immediately hit a long drive that was amazing, turned around and asked, “Did you get that on video for YouTube?” Ha, no, sadly I didn’t! I had put the camera away because I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable! All the while, Andrew (who set this day up) was teasing, “She’s recording everything. Better watch what we say!” (Ha! That’s what Manny Acta said to me once!) For the record, I just wanted a laidback easy-going day (which we definitely got) and was not recording anything! Did I mention what a great golfer Hanrahan is? He kept pace with Harvey quite well, particularly on the back 9, ending only 3 strokes behind Harvey, who started three under par and completed the round at par. My boys? Well, they had a fantastic day, but not so fantastic golf game, although they were given a lot of pointers from Harvey. I think Mr. Chatter was a little nervous.
We witnessed some phenomenal moments during the game. Harvey eagled on the 4th hole, something one rarely gets to see. Watching the ball soar through the air, then drop and disappear at the flag was amazing. I was watching for a bounce that never happened. Hanrahan sunk a putt from 65 or 70 feet (the number kept growing as the day went on) on a hole he birdied. Apparently Joel has been golfing his entire life and it shows. Man, color me impressed!
I also learned scuffed balls are great in baseball, but to be avoided in golf! Mr. Chatter (Kent) didn’t replenish his ball stash before the round and used old dirty ones. He now blames that on the worst game of his life. Heh! Harvey lost a ball and Kent tossed one of his over. Harvey glanced at the scuffed ball and exclaimed, “I can’t hit with that!” and tossed it back. Apparently it makes the ball fly screwy – good for baseballs, not good for golf balls.
As our friend Don’s wife put it later that night, “golf always provides great stories and they’re all true!” Such as Kent finding his ball in the tall reed-grass. “I think I can play that. It’s kind of up on a natural tee.” Joel replied, “Yep, but I wouldn’t.” Kent tried anyway and the grip twisted in his hands and tore his nail away from his finger. He says he might have to go on the nerd disabled list since it hurts to type. He also hit the ‘P’ parking brake to stop the cart instead of stopping with the brake first, skidding to a screeching stop, prompting everyone on the nearby holes and driving range to turn and stare. I decided to head back to the clubhouse and leave them on their own without a camera in their faces for the last three holes and apparently Kent nearly nailed me with his drive off the tee and never did find that ball! He was probably subconsciously retaliating for my joking, “Isn’t that ball supposed to go up in the air?” comment on the hole before where his drive skipped down the tiered landscape. My joking provided a male bonding moment for Kent and Joel as Joel commented, “well at least she isn’t busting [on you] or anything.” Ha!
There were some great lines from the day, but I can’t seem to remember any of them! Kent had a ball roll 360* around the hole before popping out on his last putt and exclaimed, “that would have gone the other way in Australia!” Where I should have been using a voice recorder is on the neighbors’ patio last night as they laughingly recounted the day so I could make a scrapbook for them to remember the day with!
Don, Kent, Joel, Harvey after a great day. I’m going to have this printed and framed with the score card (which Kent forgot to have Hanrahan autograph before he left) for both guys. I know they are going to treasure this day forever, largely due to how nice and down to earth Joel and Harvey were. Good times and many thanks to them!
If I remember correctly, Hanrahan also auctioned off another golf date with him for his Red Cross fundraising efforts for the Iowa flooding, so another lucky group will get to repeat today’s excitement. You’d never have known this was Hanrahan’s first time out this season as he didn’t seem rusty at all. Must be muscle memory from all those years of golfing!
And the off-day is now over, so it’s back to baseball. We’ll be at tonight’s game and are really looking forward to our trip to NYC and Shea in two weeks to enter hostile territory and watch the Nationals play the Mets there. Other than Camden Yards, I’ve never seen the Nationals play anywhere but at home, so am really looking forward to it!