Monday, May 16, 2005

Top Gun Golf

Every golfer has an Iceman hole once in a while. I have an Iceman hole once every nine holes.

You may not even know what an Iceman hole is. Let me learns you a bit here. The Iceman hole takes its name from Val Kilmer’s character in the 1980s classic “Top Gun.”

Kilmer’s call sign was “Iceman.” In the target-rich environment known as the bar, Goose (Anthony Edwards) explains to Maverick (Tom Cruise) how Iceman got his nickname.

“It’s the way he flies,” Goose said. “Ice cold. No mistakes. Wears you down. After enough time, you just get bored and frustrated, you do something stupid, and he's got you.

Starting to make sense now, isn’t it? How many times did you break a 9-iron over knee because you should have hit the 6-iron instead? How many times did you birdie the 4th hole, then hit driver 14 feet, top your 3-iron another 37 feet, shank the 4-iron onto the wrong fairway, chip into the trees, chip over the green, chip back over the green, chip onto the green and then three-putt on the 5th hole?

That, my friends, is an Iceman hole. That, my friends, is “Top Gun Golf.”

Footnote necessity: Lawyer friends Steve and Tim coined the phrase in golf terms.

I went ballistic on the fifth hole at Overpeck County Golf Course in Fort Lee, N.J., last Friday. It’s a seemingly average 418-yard, par 4.

I shank my drive to start the hole. I do that often, so I’ve had many Iceman holes. But practice makes perfect, so I have a better save percentage than Armando Benitez. Not exactly the best person to compare myself with, but after an approximate 126-yard drive, I’ll take what I can get right now.

Time for the trusty 3-iron. I hit “I’m not a player, I just crush a lot” shot and I’m back in the game.

Approaching my ball, lying 2, I noticed there’s a big ol’ weeping willow tree about 30 yards in front of me. A true golf stud would pull out the wedge and chip over the tree and plunk it on the green from 75 yards out. That was my first thought. Then I realized I’m not a true golf stud.

So, I turn toward my bag. Hurricane friend Fletcher asks what I’m doing. In true “Top Gun Golf” fashion, I say, “I’m too close for missiles. I’m switching to guns.”

Translation: I’m going to take out a low iron and punch it low under the tree and onto the green.
“You’re going ballistic?” Hurricane friend Fletcher said.

My 4-iron strikes the ball . . . and the ball does a fly-by of the green at over 400 knots. Not good. I walked around to the far side of the green and chip on . . . and off the green. Potential Iceman hole alert! Potential Iceman hole alert!

I walked passed Hurricane friend Fletcher, who politely tells me “Slider, you stink!”

Enter Maverick, who saves Iceman by chipping on the green and one-putting for the double bogey. For many a golfer, that’s not good. For me, that’s expected.

After About-to-be-lawyer friend Schatzie shanked his 12th straight drive, Hurricane friend Fletcher asked, “If you had to play in a charity golf tournament, would you want Schatzie with you?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t know,” I responded.

The 413-yard par-4 15th hole wore me down. I got frustrated. I did something stupid. Ditton on the 454-yard par-5 17th hole

We’ll begin in tee box, the birthplace of many an Iceman hole. Time to hit driver. Time for the ball to start off along the right side of the 15th fairway, then put the blinker on and wind up on the far end of the 14th fairway. Vanilla Ice alert! Vanilla Ice alert! Check out the hook while my Big Bertha revolves it.

I followed that with a monster 5-iron that faded slightly at the end, hit a tree branch and fell straight to the ground. Cue up the spiked hair and a volleyball scene because this has Iceman written all over it. Next shot has a brook in front of it that doesn’t really factor into my shot, except for that nice slab of concrete they call the wall of a foot bridge. Whammo!

My nice pitching wedge hugged the ground like a caterpillar and goes slamming off the front side of concrete. In any other world, the ball would have gone screaming back at my face and popped my eye out. But these must have been Mr. Tipton’s Laws of Physics at work here because the ball went left. Way left.

The ball settled next to a tree on the far side of the 14th tee box, some 60 yards left of the green. But, hey, I was pin-high. I lodged my patoot against the tree and launched what looked like a nice shot. Oops, too long. Chip onto the green. Two-putt. Seven. Triple bogey. Iceman.

On to the 17th, which featured a 53-foot swinging-bunt single for a drive, a nice long iron, a bad long iron, a “Caught in a jet wash” short iron, a crash-and-burn wedge and a “You’ve lost that loving feeling” putt that lipped out. Double bogey.

That’s Top Gun Golf.

The plaque for those shooting over 100 is downstairs in the ladies room. I’ll be downstairs if you need me.