Porcupine GolfTales RJSmiley

Porcupine Hazard

When playing golf up-north on Minnesota's resort courses animal sightings are not unusual. But having a round of golf halted by a porcupine is rare.

The four of them had been teammates on the high school golf.  In 1982 they let the 3-A State Championship slipped through their fingers by one heart-breaking stroke.  After the round each of these fine players had recounted how, “If I had not missed that little two footer on #3, we would have won.”  “If I had not hit it OB on the fifth, the trophy would be in the school’s trophy case forever.”  And so on.  

Annually since that fateful day the group has gotten together to play a round and reminisces over a few beers.   Now, thirty years later, this group of successful business men were together again.  This time they were standing on the first tee at Dutch’s Legacy Course at the famous old Cragun’s Resort in the beautiful Brainerd Lakers Region of Minnesota’s Lake Country.  

The teams were always the same.  The heavy lawyer, with snow-white hair that made him look older than the rest, and the shinny little CPA, with the flat-top.  They were a great team.  The albino-head lawyer, his body had been a lemon since high school, had to have a “gimp” flag for his cart.  But the guy with the bad wheels and pot belly had the softest hands and the lowest handicap of the group.   His partner, the flat-toped accountant, who figures the odds correctly on every shot, had no real game but could grind out a par from a trash can.  The handsome stockbroker, the natural athlete of the group who has a pair of golf shoes to match every outfit, was paired with the vanilla looking real estate developer, who always wore a Ben Hogan hat and was famous for making “the big putt.”  

Tee shots were struck and the game was on.  Soon the friendly match had taken a serious tone, money was not the issue as winners always bought dinner and drinks, but the competitive nature of this group made losing not an option.  

On the thirteenth green, Ben Hogan and handsome broker stood near albino-head’s flagged cart parked on the fringe.  Albino-head studied his delicate down-hill chip to go two-up.  They were astonished at the extremely quick side step that albino-head made suddenly made.  He then proceeded to limp back up a few more steps.  “What is that,” albino-head said pointing to a slow-motion mass of black-white bristles moved through the bunker and onto the green.  

Flat-top studied the creature for a second then said, “oh that is just a porcupine, why don’t you use your wedge and shoo it off the green.”  

“I am not going near that damn thing.  They shoot those quills at you,” albino-head screamed.  

Ben Hogan walked over to the beast to give the porcupine a push.  Instead of running away the creature assumed a defensive position by rising up and extending its quills then rolled into a 360º thorn ball.  The problem was the porcupine was only two feet from the hole and directly in albino-head’s line.  

“What are we going to do now,” the handsome broker said.  

Flat-top thought for a second then said.  “Let’s move away from the hole.  When it doesn’t feel threatened he will move off of the green.”  As usual, flat-top was correct.  In less than five minutes the bothered beast moved slowly to the nearest tree and using its cat-like claws climbed into the safety of the branches for a nap.  

Albino-head chipped close for a tap-in to go two up.  He and flat-top maintained the lead to the seventeenth tee where Ben Hogan and handsome broker pressed.  The final two holes were halved with pars.

Dinner began with two martinis each for appetizers.  The group needed two bottles of the best cab to wash down their filet topped with blue cheese.  After dinner while sipping a snifter generously filled with brandy, flat-top presented each of the 1982 runner-up State Champions with a trophy to remember the day.  Each received a few quills from the rodent that forced a time-out during their reunion golf match.

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