Let me be clear here. In the vast majority of cases a golfer is not very happy to get a bogey. Some bogeys are worse than others and there is no question that the least favorite is a three-putt bogey. The shorter the first putt, the unhappier a golfer is going to be.
Can a bogey be a good thing? Take two penalty strokes on a par-5 and still come away with "just" a bogey, and you are not nearly as unhappy. But you still have a bogey and you are not exactly jumping for joy either. So what do you think? Can a bogey be a good thing? I think it can.
This, then, is a story about a good bogey - a very good bogey indeed.
My golfing buddies headed south this week. The destination was Hidden Creek Golf Club near Beaverdam. Fifteen golfers would try their luck on this day, hoping to put some birdies on the card and also hoping to avoid bogeys. The latter, as it turned out, would not be the case.
As we headed for the clubhouse something near the door caught my attention. There was a wicker basket of sorts with towels inside and feeding dishes nearby. Standing in front of the basket was a little kitten. He watched as the golfers paraded by. I could almost hear him. "Hey, look at me. I'm down here. Don't you think I'm cute guys? Won't someone pet me?"
Golfer after golfer passed on by, until one reached down and picked the little feller up. Yeah, you guessed right. It was me. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I haven't met a dog or cat yet that won't get me to stop for a little affection. Whether the affection is showered on the critter or on me is certainly open to question.
Before I could put the kitten against my chest his motor was running. Though I guess I'm more of a dog person than cat person, there is something quite special about holding a little kitten while it purrs contentedly in your arms.
I let the guys pay their green fees while I enjoyed the attention of my new friend. Finally I had to put him down and head inside. I would pay my fees and then get the lowdown on the little fellow. After all it is not real common to be greeted by an adorable kitten when you arrive at a golf course.
I talked to Wendy Young Miller, the club manager, about the feline. The story I got was both shocking and heartwarming. It seems someone "dumped" the little guy on or near the golf course. Now I don't know what kind of person can just abandon a young animal such as this, but I'm pretty sure I don't care for anyone that does so.
Wendy told me that when she discovered the kitten, its fur was all matted and the creature was very skittish. What she said next made me sad.
"Did you notice the bump on its head?" I had not.
Wendy informed me that she took the kitten to the vet and a BB was found lodged on the top of its head. There were also a couple of other BB's located in its body. Someone used the poor thing for target practice.
Maybe sad was not the adjective I was feeling. How can anyone abuse a defenseless little animal? I don't like to use the word hate because it has such a serious connotation, but to whoever did this - I loathe, detest or otherwise really don't like you! OK, I got that off my chest.
The guys started drawing numbers to see what teams they would be on. I picked No. 4. I would be on the last team teeing off. That meant I had time to go see the kitten again. I noticed the embedded BB this time, but it didn't stop the kitten from cranking up his engine again. Wendy told me he warmed up to her quickly. She also told me his name. He was called Bogey.
I had yet to start my round and I had a Bogey already. On top of that, you couldn't get the smile off my face.
Begrudgingly, I put Bogey back in his basket and headed for the putting green. We were there for the golf and we had a beautiful course to play. Hidden Creek was in fabulous condition. The tees were flat and nicely manicured. The fairways were awesome. Three words can best describe the magnificent greens. They were huge, they were fast and they were undulating. I'm not sure if the word undulating fully describes these greens. There were more hills and valleys on these greens than any I have ever seen.
On more than one occasion, my playing partners and I would hit shots into the green that would disappear beyond the pin. We thought we went over the putting surface, but once we arrived we found that the ball was still on these monster greens. That left some incredibly difficult putts and unfortunately a few of those dreaded three-putt bogeys. A little local knowledge might have helped us avoid certain areas on the greens. Who am I kidding? We shoot for greens not particular areas on the green.
If you have been following my columns recently, you are aware of the fact that birdies have been hard to come by for yours truly. My golfing "buddies" have been quick to point out that fact to anyone who wants to listen. This day found me going to the 18th tee with again nary a birdie on my card. Facing a 185-yard par-3 through a tunnel of trees convinced me that I was likely to go sans birdies for one more week.
My tee shot with my trusty 7-wood arched majestically toward the flagstick. It hit on the front of the green and pitched toward the hole. From our vantage point, it looked like a great shot. Maybe I'll get a birdie after all. I quipped that it would probably be 25-feet from the hole, and the putt would have five feet of break. Turns out I was right about the distance, but I slightly misjudged the severity of the break.
I played for three feet of break and the break was actually about 10 feet. Needless to say I didn't make the seven-footer coming back and had another three-putt bogey to end the day. Bogey seemed to be "par" for the course on this day.
As we unloaded our clubs following the round, everyone was commenting on how great the course was. They also mentioned that they wished they had played better, but all were anxious to come back. When I returned the cart I went to the clubhouse with three thoughts in mind.
I wanted to tell Wendy how much we enjoyed playing the course. I also wanted to thank her for taking care of Bogey. Of course, I also wanted to say goodbye to the little guy.
Wendy and I walked outside together but Bogey was not in his makeshift home. Wendy said he likes to hide in the bushes outside the clubhouse, and sure enough there he was - sunning himself on the mulch between two bushes.
I leaned down to scratch his chin. The purring commenced and he looked at me as though he was grateful for the attention. He then looked up at Wendy with an expression that I can only describe as loving. Wendy is going to adopt him and he will soon be at his new home complete with a few other animals and of course - kids!
Thanks to the love and affection of Wendy and her family, this is one Bogey that is going to be just fine.
And that, my friends, is a good thing.
Al Stephenson is The A-T's golf columnist.
Read his blog at: