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What's in a name? A weighty matter, indeed, at The Club

British humorist and novelist Sir Pelham Grenville (PG) Wodehouse was famous for his wry tales of country club life. With apologies to ol’ PG, I’m trying my hand at it today:

The president of our club, Ormond Whipkey, married into a family that had rights to four Augusta Masters tickets each year. Some say it was the tickets that sealed the deal. Given that his bride Agatha had little outside of that to present her as attractive, there may be more than a thimble of truth in it.

Whipkey comes back from Augusta each year fired up to bring some of of the Masters and Augusta National Golf Club to Mayflower Country Club.

It is an undeniable fact of golf that every club in America, no matter how lofty its status, longs to be like Augusta National Golf Club, the Eden of golf where the Masters is played each spring while a choir of angels sings in the breeze.

But wanting to be like Augusta National is like a plain woman yearning to look like the women in the magazines. Not going to happen, even with plastic surgery. It’s true, Augusta National has had its share of surgery through the years, but that’s been like flicking a dust mote off the Mona Lisa. Augusta National is still Augusta National. It’s heaven’s own creation.

One of a kind.

Nevertheless, Whipkey keeps trying. His notion this year (he had earlier introduced pimiento cheese sandwiches at the turn room, old winners hanging around on the lawn as decorations during the club championship and wisteria winding around the pine tree standing beside the practice green) was to give each hole at Mayflower a name.

All of the Augusta National holes are named for flora, he said, flora like tea olive, pink dogwood, flowering peach, magnolia, camellia, golden bell, etc. With eyes bright and a smile, he proposed that Mayflower do the same.

But then one of the board members pointed out that there was not a lot of tea olive or flowering peach or magnolias on the property and they’d likely wind up naming about half the holes for pine trees.

Ed Abernathy, a longtime board member who saw humor in almost everything except slow golfers and downhill putts, grinned and said, “Why don’t we name the holes for what we can see on them? Like, on No. 12, we could name it ‘Equipment Shed.’”

There was laughter all around the boardroom table except for Whipkey, who snapped, “Dang it, Ed, this is serious. I try to do something nice for this club and you have to joke about it.”

Sam Johnson, paying no attention to Whipkey’s anger, said, “Why don’t we call the second hole “Proctologist,’ because that’s what it feels like every time I play that one.”

Haywood Clodfelter jumped in. “The sixth hole has to be ‘Loch Ness.’ Remember what happened to ol’ Charlie there?”

Everyone did but that never stopped anyone from retelling the story.

“He’s playing out of his mind and comes to the sixth one under,” Haywood went on. “Career round going, by miles. He hits a good tee shot down close to the pond, close enough he can get across on his next shot. But just as he starts his downswing, a monster comes rising up out of the water and Charlie foozles his shot into the water.

“Of course it was one of those guys who wear scuba gear and dive for balls lost in the water and sell them. This guy had been under the water a good while so we didn’t know he was there until he came whooshing to the surface like a breeching whale.”

Clodfelter was laughing so hard now he had to pause and get his breath.

“I thought Charlie was gonna faint or fight, maybe both. Anyway, he was so messed up he hit three more balls in the water and finished with about a 90.

“To this day, he’ll put at least one ball in that pond every time he plays. We don’t help him any, whispering real loud to each other about the Loch Ness Monster.”

Whipkey, exasperated, said, “Gentlemen, could we please get on with this? Since we can’t name the holes for flora, I suggest we solicit suggestions from the membership, if that’s all right with the board.”

Sam Johnson’s eyes got big. He held up his hands, shook his head from side to side and said, “No, no, no. That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard. Never, ever ask the members for suggestions. If you don’t do what they suggest, they get mad and start emailing you and dogging you on the practice tee and all, and they are not going to like whatever you do if it’s not their idea. Besides, what do they know?”

“You’re obviously forgetting,” said Whipkey, “that you are a member.”

The matter was discussed loudly and at some length before it was agreed that the members would, indeed, be solicited for suggestions.

Which is why the holes do not have names today and may never have names.

Betty Bishop wanted to name holes after members’ dogs, including her Precious, which she said should be the name of the first hole because Precious had won best of show in a show put on by the local parks and recreation department.

Earl Whitmire, who had just returned from a European vacation, thought it would be good to give the holes French names like musee and pont and soufflé, “because French words just sound so elegant and if I’m reading this right, elegant is what we’re looking for at Mayflower.”

Tracy McFadden’s idea of naming the holes for great golfers was actually a decent one, except he wanted to include his great uncle Porky Oliver on the list, which kind of took the edge off. The club didn’t have to include Porky but it was Tracy’s idea so it wouldn’t feel right.

Phyllis Addison thought it would be clever to name the holes for food. Something spicy for the hard holes, like jalapeno, something soothing for the easy ones, like ambrosia. Several other women put their names on her email but Haywood Clodfelter said to some other board members that he would personally burn the clubhouse and do donuts on every green with his SUV if Mayflower named one hole for something to eat, like a biscuit.

Whipkey pondered the submissions with his board members and said, “I give up. Augusta gets Golden Bell, Pine Valley gets Hell’s Half Acre and I get Pot Roast. I’m going to the bar to drink heavily. If I pass out just let me lie there. The members, being of good taste, will think I’m just part of the décor.”