Twenty-five years ago, on July 21, 1994, my golfing husband got his first hole in one. Not only did he achieve that feat, he won a car as a result: a shiny new Ford Thunderbird.
It’s true that I tried talking him out of entering the tournament held at Ferncroft Country Club. However, I didn’t say, “You never win anything,” as he told a reporter. What I said was, “You never win anything good.” A silver-plated shrimp dish with toothpick holders is not my idea of chi-chi swag. A new T-bird, however, works.
The tournament, sponsored by the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, was held on a hot, humid day, with temperatures reaching 90. The night before, I’d tried to reason with him. Weather stations were warning people to avoid exerting themselves. Only a golfer would stand under a blazing sun for hours. The other members of his foursome were Bill Sheehan, Jack Dolan and Chuck Costello.
I figured my husband would come dragging home, telling me I was right, though that’s never happened before. Nonetheless, when he finally returned from the tournament, he wasn’t worn out — he was on a hole-in-one high. Winning the car, donated by Thomas Ford, was frosting on the cake.
For me, the timing was right. My 10-year-old Peugeot had developed issues. Its mechanic had warned about undercarriage rust. Some areas were so thin you could see the road below. (Rubber floor mats solved the problem.)
Therefore, to commemorate the win, I applied for a vanity plate at the RMV. There I learned that HOL-IN-1 and similar combinations had been taken. I had to settle for ONE HOL Most people, including non-golfers, got this. Unfortunately, I soon learned that my vanity plate had a double meaning. One day, in a parking lot, I was approached by a middle-aged couple. “We like your plate,” they said. I thanked them, asking if they were golfers. Looking confused, they said they were hobbyists who “collected” vintage one-hole outhouses. “It’s very popular,” the wife said, “although there aren’t many left.”
I wondered if they bought the antique structures or merely photographed them. Regardless, I was dismayed. Here I’d been driving around feeling cool about my ONE-HOL plate, thinking people identified me as a good golfer. Instead, I’d become someone who collected outhouses. It wasn’t the last time the plate created this confusion.
Yesterday I told my husband I was writing a column about his 25-year anniversary. He said it wasn’t a big deal: “Lots of golfers get holes in one.” I asked how many win a new car. He mentioned his friend Win Fairbank, who’d done just that, two years earlier at Ferncroft.
“Okay,” I said, how many golfers get a hole in one, win a car and appear in the National Enquirer?” He didn’t know of any, outside of himself.
You see, the night before the tournament, I found, in the Enquirer, something called the Blue Dot. Rubbing the dot, supposedly charged by “psychics,” brings luck. Photos of ecstatic-looking people were featured. Some had won big at Vegas or the lottery. I decided my husband needed that boost. He, however, was uncooperative. I enlisted our son’s help. He held the magazine while I rubbed his father’s hand over the printed dot. “It can’t hurt,” I said, feeling foolish.
After he won, I learned the tabloid was seeking “blue dot” stories, so I wrote about my husband. Eventually they contacted me. Their photographer wanted to photograph us with the car, wearing golf clothes and holding golf clubs. It was February when we stood outside the T-bird, trying to look ecstatic despite the 20 degree weather. The photographer had stretched out on the ground, aiming her camera upward to avoid capturing the snow drifts.
We appeared in the February 25,1995 issue of The National Enquirer, with O.J. Simpson on the front cover. People admitted to having seen us. They all claimed they’d leafed through the magazine while at the supermarket.
Twenty-five years later, I don’t find it so embarrassing, You get a hole in one. You win a new car. You appear in The National Enquirer. What’s not to like?
Sharon L. Cook of Beverly is the author of the Granite Cove Mysteries and the new Young Adult novel: “Lying Under the Stars (and Spying on Mrs. Kirby).” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org