One Last Shot

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  The breeze through the treetops brought little relief on this warm, hazy day. I felt the perspiration, small heavy droptlets pouring off my nose. Should I wipe it off? Should I back away? A million thoughts passed quickly through my mind. Damn it! Where was my father when I wanted him most? I imagined him standing greenside, his arms loosely folded, his right hand at his chin, just as he used to stand admiring a summer evening or having a smoke. Backing away, I mopped up the sweat with my shirtsleeves. As soon as you start to think so much, it's time to regroup, to start your routine all over again. I knew how important this was; I was standing over the last three feet of my round. Luckily, there were no officials around to penalize me for slow play. Taking a deep breath, I surveyed the scene. Two hundred yards behind me, through the warm summer haze, the group behind mine waited patiently for me to putt out. Off to my left, a multitude of cars pressed urgently past on the road beside the golf course. 

  Before stepping back over the putt, I shot a glance at my wife, Jane. She was shifting from one foot to the other, putting her hands to her face. Jane had never seemed more lovely to me than at that moment, standing on the side of the green, nervous for me. Even seven months pregnant she was beautiful: long, lean legs; lithe, gentle curves, like a dancer's; soft chestnut hair falling down over her delicate shoulders. And in her belly, our unborn child, due to arrive in our lives in just a couple of months.  

    Finally, I approached my putt once again. "Here we go," I said to myself. And immediately, I knew that backing away from the putt had been the right move. Smoothly, slowly, my left hand pushed the putter into the backswing, and I knew there was no turning back. 

  "Here we go," I thought again, as my left and right hands, sealed together, started the putter head moving forward through the ball. I watched as though someone else was putting as the club struck the ball, a bit thin, but rolling nicely. For a moment, worry and doubt entered my mind. Had I known that all I had to do was put a perfect roll on the ball, I would not have worried. But I knew that perfect putts didn't always go in the hole. The golf gods saw to that.

  Finally, I looked up. The ball rolled slowly toward the center of the hole, looked in for what seemed an eternity, and finally fell: the gorgeous, unmistakable sound of the ball settling in the bottom of the cup. 

  For the first time that day, I smiled brightly. At forty-three years of age, I, Mark Levin, was on my way to my first United States Amateur Championship.



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