Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

July 23, 2013

Gain an edge wherever you can

Bryan Helvie The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — I was out of the office last week and spent a wonderful week with my wife and daughter in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

It is one our favorite places to vacation. I had visions of a scorching heat, but I think we were better off than the folks in southeastern Indiana.

In addition to the time spent with my family, I was able to play a little golf. Golf is something I rarely do anymore. It is just hard for me to find the time.

Golf in lower Alabama is a little different than in Indiana.

Hazards and rough sometimes mean more than the words describe. I had played a few times on other trips to Alabama and on a couple excursions out West. I knew of the dangers of hitting the ball outside the fairway. Critters are just a little less friendly than the common squirrel, chipmunk or turtle often found around here.

The person I was playing with was a bit of a novice to the conditions and what might lie in the tall grass and near the watering holes.

On two different occasions I was able to gain a bit of an advantage. I did hit a shot or two off target (hard to believe for a person who only plays a couple times a year) and was forced to cautiously approach the hazard where the ball might have come to rest.

In the process, I got a little closer to nature than needed. Still, I kept calm and knew this would be much more distracting for my reptile-fearing playing partner. I asked him to come over and help me look knowing there on the edge of the hazard rested a relatively large snake. Just as he approached (No, I was not going to let him get too close), the snake took off deeper into the tall grass. I am not sure who moved faster – the snake or Aaron.

I would say the encounter with the snake set Aaron back two or three holes and allowed me to stretch my lead.

A similar situation took place a day later at Gulf Shores Country Club. This time, the creature was a bit bigger with much larger teeth - only this time I encouraged him to get bit closer for a photo. Little did I think he would do it.

Again, my hope was to gain an edge in our game.I think it worked.

As he gradually built up enough courage to step well clear of the cart and approach the small gator for a closer look, it lunged forward into the water. Aaron was not nearly as shaken this time, but still a bit on edge.

His next shot screamed well into a hazard … a costly penalty in a close match. The plan seemed to work again. The advantage was short-lived, but did allow me to gain a stroke or two back.

Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods we are not. When you are not very good at golf, it is sometimes the other experiences that make the time and money spent worth it. The memory of Aaron racing away from the two reptiles was well worth the price of admission.

I am sure I will remember that much longer than a drive I hit or a save from a green side bunker.

Bryan Helvie can be contacted at theheraldtribune@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or (812) 934-4343 ext. 112.