Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Alas, the time has come for us to point the big ol’ Lincoln Northeast and head back where we belong; the land of cold and ice and snow.
This vacation has been wonderful but there’s something unnatural about two South Dakota marshmallows dodging all the responsibilities of winter in order to wallow in the warmth of Arizona sunshine for a whole month.  I felt a little pang of guilt, for instance, when our Sioux Falls neighbor called to say she thought our house was on fire last week when she drove by to check on it. But it was just the furnace exhaust pipe belching out huge plumes of steam when the outside temperatures dipped to minus 13.
Another friend told me he couldn’t get into his car because the locks had frozen after he washed it..which you need to do, even in cold weather, in order to remove several layers of road slop and salt that have caked-on the metal turning every vehicle into a whitish brown rust magnet.
You also need to get rid of those big icy fender boogers that build up in the wheel wells from driving on slushy roads. They can wedge against the front tires and dangerously hamper turning ability.
Out here they only wash their vehicles twice a year to get a little dust off.
I ran into an old chum at a Scottsdale watering hole last Sunday who asked if I’d be interested in tickets to the FBR Open professional golf tournament that’s going on out here this week. Well, the truth is, I’ve been there a few times in years past and, aside from seeing a lot of great players at work, it’s just a lot of exhaustive walking to which I’m not accustomed.
“Naw, this is different mate” said J.C. in his fun-to-listen-to Australian accent. “ I’m friends with several of the Thunderbirds (a group of wealthy businessmen who’ve been sponsoring the Phoenix Open for over 70 years) and these are V.I.P. tickets. A limo picks us up and takes us to the course where we’ll have passes to a special area with free food and booze all day. There are giant TV screens everywhere so you don’t have to walk at all if you don’t want to.”
“Now you’re talking” I said.
So, at 9:30, Thursday morning, I’m sitting at an outdoor table at the “Greenskeeper’s Club” enjoying a gourmet breakfast and a screwdriver watching thousands of older golf fans, with tired looks already on their faces, parade by carrying  portable chairs and water bottles.
I could get used to this I thought.
 I’m in there somewhere enjoying chicken catchatorie and a free margarita
After a while I did walk over to the infamous hole number 16 which is a par three that’s now completely encircled in grandstands and skyboxes. It’s the only hole in professional golf where noisy fans (many of them University of Arizona students who’ve been drinking since sun-up) are tolerated. They cheer on every shot. The roars grow to a deafening crescendo for each ball that gets close to the hole. But the crowd will also send out a chorus of “boos” for golfers they don’t like or shots that miss the green.  Some players take the whole party atmosphere at 16 in stride, others won’t play the tournament because of it.
It was comparatively quiet the hour or so I sat there and, after watching guys like Tom Lehman and Fred Couples pass through the gauntlet, I headed back to the club where I spent the rest of the day above the action perched in a comfortable chair enjoying distilled beverages delivered for free (except for the tip) by beautiful friendly young ladies who seemed genuinely interested in my welfare; “How ya doin’ sweety. Can I get you anything?”
Occasionally I glanced up at the big screen to check the scores or watch a shot but that’s about it.
The better show was later in the afternoon as throngs of beautiful people in Oakley Sunglasses and Gucci sandals started showing up at the Greenskeepers Club. I’m pretty sure they were there to see each other and not the golf. Most wouldn’t know a putter from a pith helmet but they all looked and smelled terrific as they passed by my easy chair.
I got to know one of the Thunderbirds, Wally Kelly, a big time advertising executive with CBS Television. He was introducing everyone to a friend of his; a giant of a guy named Jared.
“This guy looks familiar,” I thought.
“What’s your last name again?”
 “Allen,” he said.
Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings?? The greatest defensive end in the team’s history who fought through injury and pain to set the NFL sack record this season…That Jared Allen!??”   
“Guilty as charged,” he laughed.
When I asked how he was doing physically, he said he was really looking forward to some serious healing-up time after the Pro Bowl in Hawaii next week. He also asked that I send greetings to all the other Vikings fans in South Dakota.
So, there you go. Jared says “Hey.”"Honey, I’m through blogging..would you fix me up a cocktail like this cute little girl did for me yesterday?""My my, such language!"This could be a long quiet trip home.

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