Two best friends. Four months. Three major tournaments. One special bond that rises above it all.
DISCLAIMER : The Characters of the story is of my creation. I do not own the USGA and any of its tournaments or the R & A and any of their tournaments. And other golf tournament and course belong to their proper intuitions.
August 22, 1999
Swenson Park Golf Course
18 Days until US Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach
Those were the only sounds that could be here from the small make shift driving range. Sweat became to trickle down my forehead as I continue to hit shot after uninspiring shot down, the range, each one more unsatisfying as the last. Growling at the results, I toss my club back into the bag and take off my blue visor while running a paw through my neon green hair. It was already getting late and I really had made no major improvement on my swing. Looking at the surrounds I could see myself being the only one on the range.
'That's how it usually is though' I thought to myself with a self-satisfied smirk. 'Well...HE's also here as well; I wonder if he finished up on the course yet? It should be about that time, maybe he's in the clubhouse?' Sending a sideways glance towards the building in question before shrugging it off, he was bound to show up soon, rather than later. Deciding to get more work done I pulled out a shorter club hoping to find the flaw that has been plaguing for the last couple of days. As I began my pre shot ritual a familiar voice rang through my ears.
"Still have problems puppy?"
I didn't even need to turn around to know who that was. Gavin Hendrickson, the 6 foot 3, 195 pound pure white artic fox who has been my best friend, possible since the beginning of time. Why he calls me puppy? I will never know. Why do I allow it? Questionable sanity on my part, who knows maybe a part of me, likes it despite being a ferret.
Physically, we couldn't be built any different. His tall frame towers over my 5'10 self, I'm more compact than his slightly lanky self, topping out at the 200 pound Gav. His pure snow white fur is the bane of every fur existence, it looks so sleek and well kempt like he was royalty or something to that extent. My own fur was a mixture of on white, brown and grey as was a strange mixture of prickly needles and smooth fur, like if sandpaper was fused with yogurt. He has the most adorable scar across his nose, which gives him that boyish charm the girls seem to go for. He's the perfect physical specimen.
"You're still having that same problem pup? I though Rey had come up with a solution for your issue already." He stated, placing his clubs down for the time being.
"Yeah that's what I though also, but I still turning on the ball too early" I grumbled as I took another swing, with it having the same disappointing result. "Besides we not going to see until Tuesday, I would like to figure out why myself so I don't do this tomorrow." I gritted my teeth in frustration, stepping back from the makeshift tee box the range had. Gavin smirked before walking towards me handing me bottle water from his bag.
"Let me take a look at it then. I'm no Rey but I might be able to come up of with a solution" My friend spoke, nodding in agreement with himself. I nodded in agreement to let him help, figuring that I had nothing to lose.
You see, Gavin, along with his looks, always had a swing that I long admired. The way he swings looks so smooth and easy looking, it's the prettiest golf swing I ever seen. Plus with his height and length, the leverage he is able to generate allows him to hit the ball with incredible distance. I have to put more force into my swing to match his distance, I can hit as far as he can, but with him there no stress from his movements. This probably explains while my woods and drivers can be off line compared to his. I beckon him over to my area where I was set up to see what could be down
"So how did you played today Gavin?" I asked the fox which he merely flashed me a smirk and pulled out two clubs and placed them perpendicular down the range before answering me.
"Okay I guess. I'm going to have to putt better though, 29 putts to day and I hit all 18 greens in regulation......that's not going to cut it." He sighed. Putting was one on my friend's biggest issues, like me with driving, his putting is not up to the standard the rest of his game is. "I probably work on it tomorrow, besides it's getting late and I'm tired, so I going to show you this trick and you're going to help me with my speed tomorrow." He grinned goofily as I rolled my eyes in response.
"Fine Mr. Swing coach, impart me with your great wisdom." I replied, receiving his patented glare that seems to be reserved mostly for me. I smirk to myself I allow myself to setup my usual swing motion. While I did that, Gavin looked over my form studiously rubbing his chin in a mocking critiquing manner.
"Puppy I never understood why you're so compacted together like that, you should have the club farther way from your body and use that extra leverage to generate more power and have more control over the club its self." He stated as he closed in and pushed me back about 5 to 7inches from where I was. "See not so cramped up, now swing a couple like that." Sighing, but much to my amazement the changes seemed to work much better than I anticipated, I was able to control what direction I wanted to hit the golf ball. "See Matt...ain't I a genius?" Gavin cheesed while watching me hit ball after ball with much more precision that the last week.
"Genius...not too sure about that, but geez is your ego huge. I hope I win the US Amateur, I don't know if the world can handle it if you did" I said dryly causing a chuckle from the fox.
"Hey it's not my fault that I'm the greatest thing in golf since sliced bread." The fox responded.
"I stand corrected, the universe won't be able to handle it, well Mr. Sliced Bread, are you read to go, since its late, my mom is cooking dinner and I wanna go home now." I complained. Gavin snickered and reached down to collect all of his clubs and placed them is his bag as I also help clean up my area.
The two of us made our way to the clubhouse/pro shop that the held our scoring and hour sheet that Rey left for us to sigh during each day we come to Swenson to make sure we don't skip days with our training, ever since we took our game to the next level last year. Running the clubhouse was the very sweet Bengal tiger name Mr. Kenosha or Ace as he was nicknamed and preferred to be called. Ace was a former pro golfer himself, and helped both of us with our game over the years. Ace smiled over the counter as he pulled out our special sheet for us to sigh as he approached the counter.
"Hey boys, you guys are done for today?" The tiger asked us as he grabbed a pen for us to sign our paperwork. Gavin grabbed the pen then stuck his tongue out at me causing me to shake my head at my sometimes immature friend.
"Yeah were done for today, we will be here after school though, since he start back up tomorrow." I replied snatching the pen away once the fox was done writing his own name. Signing my name the Tiger smiled down at both of us
"That's wonderful to see you both working so hard, you have the whole city of Stockton rooting for you to the finish the job you started last year." Both of us rubbed the back of our necks embarrassed. Last year in our first appearance at the US Amateur, we both made to the semifinals, and this year we would be competing and several high profile worldwide amateur tournaments starting with the US Amateur in 18 days.
"Yeah that's for the support Ace, if one of use wins somehow, we will make sure you get your name out for you, free publicity and all" Gavin replied signing his score card before handing it to Ace who stamped the back of it.
"Ready to go Gav?" I asked, ready to eat then head chill out on my roof for the evening.
"Sure let's get the heck out of this joint" The fox responded as the two of us slanged are clubs and headed for his black 1996 Chevy Blazer. Soon are clubs were loaded and the back and I found myself in the passage seat of Gavin's birthday present from last year, and the two of us were gone from the golf course.
"So Matt, are you coming over for dinner tonight?" It was never unusual for one or the other to stay for dinner, which made our mothers happy since they would usually alternate on which one would make dinner. Tonight however was not the case. My father had gotten a promotion at work and my mother was cooking a huge dinner to celebrate the occasion.
"Nope I'm eating dinner, besides I think you day is beginning to think I'm a freeloader." I chuckled dryly which also got a laugh from Gavin.
"But Matt...you ARE a freeloader, you're the biggest freeloader I know." The fox smirked before I smacked him hard in the arm. "HEY! Watch it I'm driving, were not going to make to the US Amateur if I flip this vehicle you know." He said with and evil tone in his baritone voice, which got a devious looking smirk from me in return.
"You flip this vehicle you know my mother will try to kill you execution style like the Godfather, you know that right Gav?" I responded calmly.
"Yes I do. Scary mother ferret is scary" He replied as I laughed hard as I saw get shivers.
"Oh come on, my mom can't be that scare to you?" I asked curiously, laughing hard as he turned dead pale, which was a feat in itself given his white fur.
"Dude...women scare me...and moms are like 5 times worse, and your mother is 15 times worse than that...so yes she IS THAT scary to me." He responded as he kept driving to our neighborhood.
"So Matt, next weekend, we have our final tune up at the country club right?" The fox asked
"Yeah we do, Rey sighed us up for the Safeway Classic. It should be fun, making fun of the rich folks for 3 days" I responded back. We both never really liked playing at the country club, the owners of the club kind of look down at us for practicing at the local public course, instead of the their club. "Don't worry, just 3 days of dealing with them then they are gone." Matt nodded before his eyes slighted and he looked directly at me with a very annoyed expression.
"I thought Rey said we were just going to do practice sessions until the US Amateur, so why were we signed up for the predigest Safeway Classic?" He asked which I knew he would eventually would.
"I give you three guess"
"Our father's right?"
"Ding, ding, ding. We have a grand prize winner." I responded with twisted amusement as Gavin began to pull at his white head fur. "They want us to have a little friend competition before the big one. Isn't that great?" I added with extra sappiness to drive home my own annoyance at the situation.
"Ugh....of all the place to, it had to be the country club tournament, their rivalry has gotten out of control, and you know that right? Remember the North/South Championship? Your dad though my dad was cheating by giving me drugs, I got tested after the tournament." He finished, which caused me to hold me to do a mental double take. A drug test...really?
"Wait so when you were taking all that time you were...."
"Peeing into a cup...all thanks to your father" he growled out obliviously displeased about that particular memory, as was I now.
"Yeah that's...stupid...but I have to ask Gav, I know you don't do drugs, but did you test positive for Kool-Aid?" I snickered as the same displease look crossed his face again as he pulled up in his driveway of his home, mines being across the street.
"Get the hell out of my car you ass." He simply said as I dealt with another fit of laughter.
"I just saying which as much of that stuff you drink, it they were ever to ban it you will be screwed...are you coming to the roof tonight?" I asked as he reached his door waving to me as a yes. Sighing I jog across the street and head straight for my own home where dinner was most likely being served.
My household (The Harrison's)
7: 30 pm
Walking in, the distinct smell for stir-fry hit my nose immediate as I placed my clubs near the doorway. I could immediately here my parents laughing from the kitchen, singling everything was ready to go as far as dinner was concerned.
"Matt-dear, is that you...I know your clubs are put away in your room or car and not by my front door, like I told you not to over a hundred times am I right?" The voice of my mother yelled, which always seem to know when I was not complying with here many house rules. Mumbling a few curses to myself I picked up my club and head for my 1997 dark blue Chevy Silverado pickup, since I would most likely be driving us to school tomorrow morning. Completing that detour of a task, I make a beeline to the kitchen, washing my hand in the sink and grabbing a plate to get ready to eat. Sitting down across from my parents, my mother continued here rant.
"Honestly son, every day we have the same conversation, is it really so hard to but your clubs in your room or your truck? Anyway how was your day today?" My mother said as she picked at here food, she was a good cook but a very picky eater.
"It was decent, just fine tuning for the US Amateur, Gavin wasn't happy that we are entered in the Safeway Classic. Dad...why did Rey sign us up for the Safeway classic at the damn country club, you know very well we hate the people who run that shade low-class place." I said with narrowed eyes, as ice seeped into my glare at my father, who at least had the decency to look guiltily. "I thought we agree that we and Gavin could pick our events state side and we would talk about nationwide and international tournaments." I said with a cold tone. Both me and Gavin have our huge issues with the people who run the country club golf course because the fact they hate us due to the fact that we were top rate amateur that don't play at the course and further promote and make more money off our likeness. Wonderful people they are really.
"Well first off, language. Second of all, I asked for Rey to sigh you up because, I thought you need some actually competition before the US Amateur. You have been a tournament in 2 months; you need that edge if you want to win. I was just thinking about your best interest. " My father stated nodded as to almost convince himself.
"In other words son, your father has made a wager with Mr. Hendrickson to see which one of you will finish better." My mother added, reviling the truth, which cause me to smile oh so sweetly at my father.
"It's kind of hard when we going to be in the four-ball portion isn't it dad?" Winking at my mother as my father began to show signs of throwing an apoplectic fit. Serves him right for using me and Gavin for his and Mr. Hendrickson own little personal feud/friendship, I swear it has gotten out of control. Having enough of my food I excused myself the dining table, with the remainder from both parents to not to stay up to late and my father to remember about my run in the morning.
I head up to my very modest room, my desktop computer and TV hooked with my Nintendo 64, along with my various other achievements from golf and school filled my room. I change into my sleeping night clothes fairly quickly then headed out the window, and directly to Gavin front yard, and looked up to see a certain artic fox all ready lounging up there, waiting for me.
The Hendrickson's Roof
The ritual of me and Gavin ending their days on the roof actually came about on accident. It happen last year when I had won the California Junior State amateur, a huge party was thrown by my father to celebrate and partially rub in Mr. Hendricks's face. It was a terrible affair, my father and Mr. Hendrickson spent most of the night fight while I was forced to deal with family members that I had never seen before, but most certainly trying to find a way to take advantage of this success for their own greed. Eventually Gavin would take pity on my soul and drag me away from the madness and pull me to the roof, where we would listen to music and hang out until everyone begin to filter out. We made our own special end of the day habit, barring sickness or tournaments, we would end our day on Gavin's roof.
I arrived on the roof soon to see Gavin sprawled out across the roof, taking in the site of the beautiful stars and sky. He smiled at me as I laid down next to him, his body was always warm, like he constantly had a personal furnace inside of him.
"Howdy puppy, did you have a fantastic evening meal like I did?" He exclaimed, sarcasm dripping off every word he utter. I could help but let out a large sigh as my answer before scotching over close to his warm form.
"Wow...That bad huh?"
I thumped his nose in response before running my paws through my messy head fur before answering his asinine question.
"Oh yes lots of fun...just finding out that our dad's put us in this damn tournament this weekend because they have a bet with each other. Best dinner ever." I replied to a dry chuckle from the white fox, who was rubbing his previously offended nose.
"Yeah I got that same spew from my dad, but at least this time it was only over a case of beer, so were doing the four-ball format right?" He asked with a knowing glance at me which I return in spades.
"Your damn right four ball, ugh our dads are out of control, what are we going to do about then?" I asked the fox, and instantly wishing I hadn't. Gavin could come up with some off-the-wall and demented stuff at times.
"How about we just stick them in a steel cage and let them fight to the death, can we do that?" He suggested bouncing up and down like the puppy he always calls me. Shaking my head I scooted closer to the larger fox and laid my head on his chest which brought a purring like rumbling from him.
"Gav you're nothing more than a big kitty cat, you even have the purr down, you're sure you're not a tiger like ace parading around in a fox suit" I asked poking his nose and giggling as I watch him go cross eyed and wrinkling his nose. He could only respond by glaring half-hearted at me before betting my ears with cause me to murr softly. The two of would turn our attention the sky again before the fox would open again.
"Shut it pup-pup, my purring shouldn't be the topic of focus, he have to go to the worse place on earth tomorrow, school." He moaned, a sour look crossing his muzzle. School wasn't defiantly an something I was particularly looking forward to, but I was going to try to at least attempt to put a positive spin on this situation.
"Oh come on Gavin, is not that bad" I responded, before catching the look of the fox that clear said 'you're joking right?' Rethinking it over my mind quickly, I decide it was impossible to be positive and came to his line of thinking "...okay your right; it is the worse place on earth." As both of gave long pitch groan in stereo
"Yeah....Matt our lives are going to be hectic for the next 5 months, US Amateur in 18 days, The Amateur in October, Walker Cup in November, plus school, and keeping our dads from committing felonies against each other." Gavin added, lying back with an almost bitter smirk edging across his face. I nuzzle in his chest more getting comfortable. I couldn't help but let out a rather large snort in disagreement though
"Our lives have ALWAYS been hectic; it's our way of life, chaos, disorder and French Fries, lots and lots of French fries. Which reminds me, same bet on?" I asked looking up at the fox who nodded in total agreement.
"Lowest total in the stroke play rounds buys fries for a week? You know it I think I will take my fries from Carl's Jr. this time puppy." He stated with total confidence....The asshole.
"Oh man, that's was so funny, it was almost like you think you were going to win this bet, it was so cute." I responded reaching up to pinch his cheeks like a little kid, making him scowl down at me harshly.
"Bite me puppy"
We laughed as we spent the rest of the night looking at the stars before we decided to head home to turn into bed. We are Matt Harrison and Gavin Hendrickson, two best friends who will be competing on the highest levels of amateur for the rest of the year while trying to balance school, and so sort of a social life.
This is our story.
This is our journey.