Saturday, July 21, 2007. Tiger Woods hits an approach shot on the par-5 sixth hole at Carnoustie Golf Course on the third day of the British Open. . .
Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. Matt Kane hits an approach shot on the par-5 eighth hole at Cokato Town & Country Club during the first and only day of the Winsted Wildcats Open. . .
Both high-arching shots veered off course slightly, slicing away from each player’s swing to the right for the right-handed Woods and to the left for Kane, a lefty missing the green by a good 30 yards. And both came down to the sound of a sharp rap.
Trees were around, but neither golfer’s shot struck a branch. No, instead, the rapping sound was made from a Titleist, in Wood’s case, and the red-striped range ball (a ball is a ball), in Kane’s case, striking a human skull.
I’ve always wanted to be like Tiger Woods on the golf course, but the golf gods must have misunderstood about the way I wanted to be like him.
In both instances, the un-targeted victim of the golf-by ended up being all right. Besides their pride, the only signs of the two being hurt were the blood running down their foreheads and the a newly-formed Looney Tunes-like bumps on the tops of their heads.
In the Woods’ case, the victim was 63-year-old Jennifer Wilson, from Antrim, Northern Ireland. I never got the name of the guy I plunked, but he was a friend of friend who was golfing in the other foursome that was playing the Wildcat Open with my foursome.
Golf.com reported that Woods gave Wilson an autographed glove. The Delano Herald Journal (in this column) reports that I (Kane) gave my non-target a verbal ‘Sorry.’
What else can a guy do besides apologize?
The thing about my own golf-by is I knew the guy and my friend were up ahead looking for their balls, but I couldn’t see them behind several mature trees. I knew they were searching to the left of the green, and, when I saw my shot heading that way, I yelled “Dan, look out!” or something like that. Apparently, I didn’t yell loud enough.
I was told the victim and my friend were walking around looking for their balls, and that I led him perfectly with my shot.
“It felt like a shotgun blast,” the victim told me.
He said he dropped to his knees stunned, and, obviously in pain.
I, nor the guy on my team who was hitting his shot from my lie, thought I hit anybody. My playing partner even hit his shot. Golfers on an adjacent tee box said my shot hit the guy in the head, but, knowing who those other golfers were, I had no reason to believe them. Until, that is, I saw my victim walking around with a golf towel to his head.
I felt horrible inside, but I didn’t know what to do. I walked up to the victim and apologized. He accepted, and said, “It’s OK, I’ve been hit before.”
I haven’t heard how my victim has been doing. I know he kept playing, but he and his group decided to let my group play ahead. I think they said something about we all could play faster, but maybe he just wanted to get me out of his sight.
So, in the group ahead of my victims group, I played the final 14 holes with my head on a swivel. I thought for sure my victim would line me up in the cross hairs of his driver.
No golf balls came close to hitting myself or any of my partners, thank God.
I don’t know what happened to my game after my bean-ball incident, but it must have scared my golf ball straight.
I started hitting fairways with my driver, and actually coming close to the greens with my short clubs.
No more humans were harmed during the rest of my round. Maybe a few trees and definitely some grass, but no humans.
Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008. Matt Kane is still sorry for hitting that guy in the head.