Bonding in a Best Ball at Mystical's golf courses in Myrtle Beach with son Mike
When Claude Pardue, owner of Mystical Golf in Myrtle Beach, S.C., invited golf writers and a partner to play in a three-day best ball tournament, I asked my son, Mike Pinckney, who lives just three hours away in Charlotte, N.C. I hadn’t played with him since we snuck out on a private course on Thanksgiving day 12 years ago for a family escape – our outings at a local pitch-and-putt don’t count.
With both of us carrying a double digit handicap, I thought we had a chance in the net division. All we needed to do was to execute the ham and egg thing. More important, I saw this as an opportunity to do a little mother-son bonding as well as have a lot of laughs. Mike is a fun guy.
I call him “My Wild Child.” Of my three boys, he’s the one who will drive his topless, door-less Jeep Wrangler to work on a snowy day in Charlotte. Just for fun. His friends hang on his porch, quaff a few brews and watch the Panthers on his TV mounted under the eaves. His fridge is filled with beer, fruit juices and Styrofoam take-out containers.
A single (divorced) dad to a 12 year old daughter, he takes her and her friends to play laser tag, hike in the woods, decorates the porch with horrible, scary creatures for Halloween and on a sunny Saturday, he takes her and friends riding in the Jeep, the music cranked up while the girls sing at the top of their lungs. He gets them feathers for their hair, breakfasts at Starbucks and manicures and pedicures.
He plays golf that way too. He swings hard, drills it 300 yards or more out there and if he’s lucky, he will even find his ball. His approaches to the green have a 50/50 chance of hitting. Out of the bunker? Just stay alert.
He’s a pretty cool character too. Doesn’t throw clubs or set fire to his golf shoes. “Hey, I’m building my business (advertising) not training to be a pro,” he’ll tell you.
Pardue, a man with a huge laugh and a love of life, greeted us as we drove up to the crazy castle-like clubhouse he built for the Wizard. It’s a hoot; constructed in stone with crenelated walls and stone pillars, medieval-looking doors and beams and furnished with studded leather chairs and heavy iron fixtures.
There was a slight drizzle, but Claude stood outside at the entrance, the water running down his face, as he greeted all his guests for his first annual tournament. Over the next three days Claude was ever present popping up as we teed off or lagged a long one. He was obviously having a great time.
We played the Wizard, the Witch and Man O War in that order, all first-rate tracks designed by Dan Maples, all very different. The Wizard was a good place to start, more open, less trouble unless you landed in the old-style sod bunkers or the feathery fescue.
“Reminds me of Scotland,” said Mike who’d been on a buddy trip to the Old Course earlier in the year.
“Maybe more Ireland,” said Claude adding, “I like the way this course flows.”
We did too until the last three holes where water narrowed the landing area. On the 18th, a shot to an island green, I hit the water while Mike managed to stay dry.
In typical giving-positive-encouragement-fashion, a mom thing, I gushed, “Great shot.”
“I didn’t even make the green,” he said.
“But it’s dry. It’s over,” I said.
“Mom, I’m a big boy. You don’t have to yell ‘Good shot,’ every time I get the ball airborne. I can handle it.”
After the first day, we were pumped. We were just three points off the net lead. Our ham and egg deal was on course.
As we played, Mike had set his Droid on vibrate, but I noticed he was able to blast out of bunkers, tee off, and check the yardage with his GPS golf app without missing a beat. If our opponents thought he was a bit obsessive about checking the distance, they would have understood had they known he was doing a pile of texting back and forth to his office.
The next day at the Witch, a tighter course winding through spooky wetlands and forests, our wheels fell off. The Witch is a fine track without gimmicks. Solid. Our game wasn’t.
I think that’s when Mike realized I was more competitive than he was. “We really need this one,” I said after sculling a ball into the swamp and muttering under my breath, “please, please, please.” He took a swing and crack, followed me in.
“S**t,” I said. It just slipped out. We finished the second day near the bottom of the pack. Humiliating? Uh, yes.
That night licking our wounds, we dug into a bounteous banquet worthy of feeding a knightly realm highlighted by great roast beef and good wine. Everyone agreed: Claude really knew how to throw a party.
Afterwards, we walked back along the beach to the Seaview Hotel, one of those highrise complexes on the ocean built in the 60s when Myrtle Beach got hot. The Seaview, a popular place with golfers looking for a good deal, isn’t the Ritz, but our rooms had great views of the sea and if you left your sliding glass door open at night you could fall asleep to the sound of the waves. Wonderful.
It rained hard that night but the next day it had cleared up so we could play Man O War, already a study for “Waterworld” as it’s routed around a 100 acre lake with water coming into play on all but one hole including back-to-back island greens. Mike discovered no matter what path his ball took, he could recover even from another fairway. Impressive stuff.
We played better – well, Mike played better – and he pared the 17th and 18th holes, the last requiring a carry over water. “Good shot,” I said. “Sweet.” Appropriate this time and not at all just a mom thing.
Back home I got an email from Mike. “Mom, I wish both our games showed up, but at the end of the day we accomplished what we set out to do. We had a lot of fun together.”
That we did. Now if I could just take back that four-letter word.
Note: Mysticalgolf.com offers several mystically affordable golf packages including golf, accommodations and lunch starting at $99.
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