One of those shifting salt-and-pepper skies hung over The Country Club in Brookline the other day, the kind that bodes so well for a round of golf on a true links-type course. The first rounds of spring are often the most memorable, and so it was on Wednesday, when Spence Fitzgibbons took up his springy driver and embarked on a nine-hole jaunt over the Primrose course with a playing partner who will remain anonymous.
By way of introduction, Sepnce is the number two player on the Harvard gold team, having served in that capacity for two seasons. His full name is Edward Spence Fitzgibbons Jr., though he has acquired a long train of nicknames during the course of his career, the most endearing of which are "Four-Year-Old," "Jumbo," "Watty," and "Fitzleman." His playing partner on this occasion was a certain young slasher who sometimes writes about golf for the Harvard paper.
Below is the scoreboard for the day's round. The name of Spence's partner remains a dark secret, to protect him against any charges of cowardice, since he tore up his card after the seventh hole.
Fitzgibbons: 4 3 4 4 5 3 4 5 3
S: 13 7 9 20 12 5 11
Even a beginner compiling a golf score will realize that the scoring of the above was no easy task. It was a rare hole indeed when Fitzgibbons played less than three balls. He is more in his element tinkering with the loops and gyrations that must be meshing perfectly for him to strike the ball "pure" than tallying accurate scores.
Player "S," on the other hand, is deeply concerned with his score. Arriving at an accurate score becomes all the harder when endless haggling ensues over whether a "gimmee" putt should have been granted, not to mention the arithmetical difficulties posed by such astronomical numbers.
Although it may not be apparent, "S" carded a courageous 11 on the redoubtable seventh, a hole replete with a meandering fairway and a menacing water hazard. Reaching the green of the par five eighth was an arduous business, and he found a greenside bunker. After unleashing a frenzied rain of blows, his ball had not budged. "S" suddenly lost the will to go on, so his incomplete scorecard will be preserved for posterity as a noble fragment.
Aside from the discrepancy in the duo's scores, there were also temperamental difference. Fitzgibbons claimed to be "psyched out" by the high scoring of "S." Fitzgibbons has an affinity for shooting "low numbers," subscribing to the philosophy of the Scottish prof of old who gritted his teeth and said: "I 'ate heights." The plight of "S" is just as pitiful, for he faced an unequal task in competing with Fitzgibbons. He was not "playing a proud game," as caddies are wont to say. Nor is Fitzgibbons always the most encouraging of playing partners. His own words attest to his highstrung nature: "I can be a pretty intense player because I'm always hitting it rude."
The following is a telling commentary by Fitzgibbons on his round. On the first tee he declared: "The key here is to set up to the right and boom it." His drive flew off to the right and disappeared from view, which led to the comment, "I want a mulligan, then I'll be ready." A second drive followed the line of the first, which prompted: "God damn it, I'm having trouble hooking it today."
While preparing to hit his fourth drive on the fourth tee: "If I don't hook this one I'm going to be ragged. That's one of the things I hate about golf--when you think you're doing something with your hands, and you're doing something else." Later on, a stray putt elicited: "What a rude putt. I just can't get the line right today."