The Champion

April 23, 2010

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The tattered banner fluttered in the breeze.  It was faded by years of exposure to the sun, but still trumpeted its message to the world: CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP TODAY.

You could have cut the tension with a spork.  The 72 hole competition was going to come down to the very final hole.

Three time defending club champion Prescott Morris had played a flawless tournament, carding birdie after birdie.  In contrast, upstart Roger Blass had experienced an eventful tournament.  Blass’ card featured an impressive array of eagles along with a large number of bogeys.  Nary a hole went by that didn’t involve Blass blasting out of a hazard or draining an absurdly long putt.  Sometimes, he combined both in the same hole.

Morris was beginning to feel the pressure.  He had a one stroke lead on the final hole.  He had a lengthy conversation with his caddy before finally selecting his club.  His trusty Ping putter would be used for this shot – perhaps the most important shot in the history of Hillside Country Club.

Morris adjusted his purple and green plaid pants.  He tugged on his cap nervously.  Morris walked off the distance to the hole once again.  He studied the slope of the green.  At last, Prescott Morris felt that he had a good read for the shot.

Morris gave the ball a firm, measured tap.  The white sphere spurted toward the hole.  As it approached the hole, it appeared that Morris had hit the ball too hard.  The ball hit the back edge of the cup and popped up into the air.  The crowd held its collective breath.  The ball dropped harmlessly into the hole.  The pro-Morris faction of the crowd clapped politely.  Morris’ putt allowed him to save par on the hole, and retain his one stroke lead.

As Blass stepped into the tee box, his fans broke into frenzied shouting.  Blass was the underdog, a champion of those who clawed for everything they got in life.  Roger Blass had begun his career as a night watchman at the local bean factory.  Decades later, he owned not only the bean factory, but seven other plants.  He was the perfect example of the self-made man.

Blass basked in the glow for a moment before acknowledging the crowd with a nod.  Blass knew that his golf game was inferior to that of Prescott Morris.  He had compensated by adopting a feast or famine approach to the tournament.  The strategy was high risk, high reward.  Blass knew that he had been blessed with more than his fair share of good luck during the tournament.  He needed to take advantage and close out the 18th hole strong.  He needed an unlikely eagle to win or a birdie to tie and force a playoff.  Par simply wouldn’t be good enough.

Blass had found himself in the shadow of the billionaire oil baron for far too many years.  Morris drove a Rolls Royce while Blass had to settle for a Lexus.  Morris lived in a sprawling estate at the top of the hill while Blass had to settle for a 9500 square foot home with a somewhat smaller pool.  He finally had the chance to knock Morris off his high horse.

Blass  took a moment to gauge the wind.  He carefully selected a club and readied himself for the shot.  He took a moment to steady his nerves, then swung the club.  As Blass followed through, a drunk fan yelled “GET IN THE HOLE!”.  As the ball approached the green, it slid between the paddles of the windmill and dropped into the hole for an eagle.  Roger Blass had toppled the establishment and was the newest club champion.

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