5 SUNDAY BEST
At least they had the right man of the group for the job – he had a prestigious business school degree and a diplomatic disposition to pull off the high wire act of balancing consistent follow up in a low-key and courteous way. Even then, there were many days of hand wringing over when was the right time to remind his boss of the invitation, and then to further press him to make the call to the club. Of course, he could not actually ever ask if the call had been made, but had to rush home every day to check the mailbox like a child waiting the dreaded six weeks after sending in his proofs of purchase.
During this waiting period, the middle brother began to burn with a low, consistent fever brought on by the sweltering jungle of pessimism. He best tried to soothe this malady by researching the reclusive course and its history, but there was little available – a book here, a few photos there, and nothing on auction sites, not even a scorecard. Online maps in satellite mode could at least show him a bird’s eye view, and he was able to piece together some of the routing. Also, he discovered a ridge of sand dunes that ran between Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill next door. He set out to scale those dunes after a chance business meeting in the area, though he had to come up with an excuse to miss dinner.
He soon learned these dunes were covered with trails, which made the going easier, and he first stumbled upon what he thought was Cypress, but then recognized as Spyglass Hill from photos. He then went west from there, and Cypress opened before him as he stood above what he thought was the eighth fairway and green, looking west to the clubhouse and ocean beyond. The view on a clear winter’s day with mid-summer greenness was spectacular, but it was hard to separate what he saw with how he felt to be so close to fame, like suddenly being rushed back stage. And even though he was on public land, he still felt like he was trespassing, and would hide behind trees as golfers came near. He half expected to be jumped by secret service agents hiding along side him, who must be there when at least some of the high profile and high net worth members play.
He was grateful to still live in a country where security equipment and personnel did not overrun every open venue, though such days seemed to be limited. Ironically, because of the low security, he was then tempted to steal on to the course, but did not want to doom his future playing privileges, and the call to his wife from the police station would have been unpleasant. Not exactly a strong moral compass. After a few more minutes, he picked up a golf ball he found as a souvenir, and took comfort that even Cypress members can really spray shots too. But he was also a little down this may be the closest he ever came to setting foot on the course.
He seemed to be right. Weeks passed, prayers went unanswered, burnt offerings were rejected, and the dream was on life support. The golf gods, like all deity, have a broader perspective and greater wisdom in deciding which requests to grant, but perhaps they too just get too busy. And what additional gifts or promises would make a difference to someone who has it all?
However, like finding a twenty while walking through the mall or getting an A when a C was expected on a test, life does serve up pleasant surprises every once in a while. The all-American member did in fact come through, and they would be going to Cypress Point that September! While it is an ideal month to play almost anywhere else, it is also considered the best time to play Cypress, a nice side benefit. But like a bobsled race or a soccer game decided on penalty kicks, September at Cypress would be hard pressed to feel like the winner when the difference between the runners- up is so tiny.
One of the four Bandon golfers chose not to make the trip, so a dad giddily joined them instead. The others were aghast one of them could not fit the trip into his schedule, but questioning his priorities then made them question their own, and guilt came calling. It would not be a quick or cheap trip, so the personal and career cost would be real. It was not surprising the defecting one’s career star had risen higher than theirs. But once again, they consoled themselves with Jack being a dull boy, and lightning does not strike twice. Selfish motives are easily soothed over with even threadbare rationalizations.
In late September, they arrived on the Monterey Peninsula to play Cypress the next day. Staying in the Stevenson resort of Carmel is nice but expensive, so they stayed in the Steinbeck town of Monterey. The weather, like most days of the year there, was perfect – temperate and sunny. Finding it hard to sleep, this time due to excitement and not work-related stress, they woke up early the next morning and dressed in basically their Sunday Best. Cypress did not allow shorts, rarely needed there anyway, but the rest of their dress code was very standard for a private club. So they did not need to be so gussied up, but it just felt appropriate, like going to prom or a job interview. What was not appropriate was the weather – they woke up to a thick marine layer, the usual result after a few days of warm, sunny weather when the central valley’s high pressure pulled in ocean clouds. They were not too concerned as it usually burned off early in the day. They should have been.