Walter Mitty Champions Tour

Balboa opening hole


Red Underdog
Blue Commentator
Green Gallery
Black Acts of Nature

Today’s stop on the Walter Mitty Champions Tour is Balboa Park 18 in sunny San Diego, which opened on April 5th, 1919 as Golden Hill Golf Links. A design by William P. Bell opened in 1933 and was updated in 1995 by Halsey Daray Corp. That’s the history, as far as we know. Now it’s on the Underdog to find the holes, wherever they are, one way or the other.

1st tee

Playing through!

The sea of well wishers parts for the underdog, whose body language speaks of hitting fairways and making birdies. The weighty words “victory” and “champion” unfurl in the imagination as if written by dueling sky pilots. Yet they are left unspoken – for now. The underdog’s unwavering, Pacific blue peepers tell all present that the pressure-packed importance of the occasion makes no impression on him. He steps forward into the charmed square of the tee box.

Who is this dude? Looks like a newbie.

Stance, check. Shoelaces tied, check. Grocery list, check.

The world’s greatest ball (according to its manufacturer) is launched.

En route to 2nd tee

Under the pressure of competition, the underdog is searching his pockets and golf bag.

The golf widow’s grocery list is here somewhere…

2nd tee

The truth is, 2 gives me as much trouble as the widely feared 4 and 16.

The underdog’s admission of fallibility elicits respectful nods from some in the crowd. Others share looks of concern, their new favorite having revealed a chink in his armor. The underdog addresses the ball.

“Caw, caw!” quoth a crow.

The chaparral on the hillside collects another victim.

What quoth the crow?

2nd fairway

On the march, the combatants and their entourages pass below the clubhouse on the bluff. One question gnaws at many souls: Should this golden opportunity to grow old and die in the Club Grille be seized? Yet not one soul peels off. Mitty Tour officials scouting advance positions bark orders. Armies of the faithful encamp around approaches to the green.

En route to 3rd tee

Is that a knife in his hand? What is he doing with a knife?

Ladies and gentlemen, the underdog has a knife! Everybody, please remain calm!

When your scorecard pencil has lost its point, pioneer ingenuity kicks in. You whittle.

3rd tee

The broad fairway at the underdog’s feet resembles a country meadow or pretentious lawn. Enough is hidden of the structure crowning the opposite slope for it to be mistaken for a poet’s cottage or a fat cat’s castle. The underdog selects the meadow, the cottage and his 3-wood.

Holes 4 and 5

The raised greens of 4 and 5 have loomed over generations of golfers. The smart money is against the underdog. As whisperings in the gallery foretell disaster, he and his clubs suffer communication breakdown. The soaring walls protecting the holes repulse like flies his ineffectually lofted shots. Multiple duffs force him to crisscross hill and dale like a mountain goat in pursuit of the enemy, the golf ball. On top of it all, sweat smudges the ink of the grocery list; the flavor of the golf widow’s favorite muffin is now illegible. The underdog is at rock bottom.

7th fairway

The eyes of the world are elsewhere as the underdog executes a blind carry over a thick stand of trees.

See, it didn’t sail out of bounds into the windshield of a parked car! After such good fortune, I feel awful that my dog used to run here off leash at night. Wasn’t thinking in golf terms then. Hope his business became fertilizer, not a nuisance on somebody’s shoes.

10th green

The tee is back there somewhere. How did I get here?

The parvenu got this far with that putter? It could pass for a toy.

12th approach

No daydreaming…Admiring the design of the green and bunkers slows play…If I don’t hit into the eucalyptus trees, I can take in the ocean views…

Quit talking to yourself and play!

In defiance of distractions, the wannabe conqueror –

“The Pacific blue of his peepers…” murmurs a groupie suffering pangs of unrequited love.

…surveying the picturesque distance, swings for the flag short of the Coronado Islands and the sign reading “El Cortez” on a skyline roof.

16th approach

Golf cruise
“I’ve got him now!” says a rattler waiting out of bounds left of the fairway.

“I’ve got him now!” says the narrow approach to the green.

18th green

In the gathering twilight, the underdog lines up his long putt. His fans, worry written all over their faces, stand side-by-side at a safe distance, like a squad of executioners. His caddie holds the flag. With the gallery cameras raised, pointed and aimed at him, the underdog appears immersed in thought.

If the golf widow – and Mom! – could see me now, and not bring up grocery lists…

“Caw, caw!” quoth a crow.

The coup de grace is on its way!

image credit
Al Bruton