For the first time in more than a month I was able to get out of the house and play a round of golf.
My dad and I were so excited to go we got to the parking lot of Schneiter’s Bluff 45 minutes early just to check in and get some practice time chipping and putting.
But at 7:35 a.m. no one was on the back nine of the course, so we were offered to go play the latter half if we felt ready enough.
We pushed our carts and were off to hole 10.
Then came the one little surprise: our two-some became a three-some with the addition of 10-year-old Jaylen.
“Everybody spells it wrong,” he said, so he made sure to spell it out for us, letter by letter.
Jaylen had been waiting at the course since 6:30 a.m. for a friend of his. The two of them were supposed to squeeze in a quick nine and get picked up afterward, but his friend never showed.
So with his bag on a push cart and a lot of different things to say, the three of us were off on a nine-hole adventure I won’t forget for some time.
At first we started talking about golf. The scheduler inside the clubhouse said Jaylen was a good kid and one hell of a player.
My first thought was “this kid is going to make us look really bad.”
I was right. For every bogey or worse my dad or I got, he was lining up for birdies and missing putts by inches.
As it turned out, this kid is better than advertised by the clubhouse personnel. He earned his Utah Junior Golf Association card, lost a tournament match-play final by a single hole, and likes to play Grand Theft Auto 5, a video game.
We talked briefly about each of those topics and then some, and in the meantime he takes a few seconds to pipe a drive down the middle of the fairway of a long par-4.
He also dresses the part of a professional golf player. A Nike golf hat, shirt and dress-like shorts completed the look of a pro to go along with the game he possesses.
He asked me about my favorite cartoon characters, if I had ever heard of someone called “underwear man,” (as it turns out, he was referencing a character called Captain Underpants) and reverted back to Grand Theft Auto every once in a while.
Then he’d hit a mid-iron to within 10 feet of the hole.
By my standards it was a great shot ... he simply called it an “OK” approach.
He made the putt, and it wasn’t easy either.
I two-putted for a bogey and was happy to get out of the hole with nothing worse than that.
By the end of the round I felt exhausted. I was ready to walk to the clubhouse, grab something to eat and head home.
Jaylen was back on the putting green practicing his wedges and putting from different distances.
It was one of the most fun rounds I’ve had that included being paired with a total stranger, and I’ve been with the best and worst of them.
But this kid takes the cake.
He’s smart with a golf club in his hands and fun to talk to as you’re chasing down your ball. At times I had forgotten just how old he really is.
This kid will be really good someday; he may just end up on TV.
If he does it’ll make for a good conversation starter.
“I remember playing with him when he was only 10 ... and he kicked both our butts.”
And his favorite character is Captain Underpants