19th Hole

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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My life is Constantly Changing to Remain the Same 

A couple of weeks ago, during the weekly Sunday game at Black Mesa, I was paired with some higher handicaps in the “game”. As always, my playing companion was my bride as is our weekly custom. Black Mesa during the fall is nothing short of spectacular with the changing leaves on the mountains signaling the last time for the boys and girls of summer. Baseball stole this from golf, as I am quite sure golf was played long before baseball was born. 

We had played around to number 17 and by now a gentle breeze was making the 17th become the true monster it was designed to be. A tough driving hole with a tougher second shot onto an elevated green… it’s a true test. Well, I had struck my tee shot to the far right side of the fairway giving me the very best angle to the tucked pin on the far left of the green. Riding the good mojo of having birdied 16 a second birdie here could well cement a good round. 

I am normally a very careful player who takes note of where the rest of the players are, and also always preaching course and area awareness to all my players. I knew that the remainder of the players in our group were well behind me and very far to the left side of the fairway which meant I would be very safe at my ball. What I failed to take into account would be a second shot shank by Dave, putting him now behind me and now to the far right side of the fairway. Danger Will Robertson, danger!! Dave did what any player who has struck a perfect shank does, he rushed to his ball and proceeded to hit a second shank only this one at Mach 4! 

I can tell you that the instant before you are hit by a golf ball you can hear it coming, a mild hiss precedes the impact. My top of the forehead is about a 3 square inch area, which Dave hit right in the middle. It would be very fair to say it was the most solid shot he had hit all day and at the very least surely the highest. After hearing the hiss, the next thing you hear is the whack from the ball off your head.  I am told that different balls make different sounds, I can assure you I will not test that theory. Your next instinct is to touch the area struck.  A sickening feeling now follows as your blood now flows.

My bride always seems to have stuff and had a bandage and needle and thread. I turned a little green at the needle and thread and she giggled that these were for fashion emergencies but would be glad to try them on my noggin. I respectfully declined and just opted to bleed some. Now being a typical man, I wanted to finish but my bride being sound of mind forced me to quit and put ice on the injury. I am now quite healthy and the resulting ability to forget bad shots is a welcome addition to my game.

Are you OK asked Dave? Friends…never ask a person who is bleeding if they are OK. I knew I was not OK as behind Dave appeared my lawyer and behind him a lawyer for the insurance company and one more behind him from the golf ball company. I must be truthful that I would never have guessed a PODO golf ball with four cuts would need representing. Yeah I am fine was my retort but other thoughts went through my mind. 

While getting hit in the head is nothing to joke about, the way we react to these situations is something we have lost as a society. It would be easy to blame Dave, but really I should have been more aware. I can honestly say I have never been hit in the head and now I have that off my bucket list. Next on the list is shooting my age. 

Tom Velarde is the Manager at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email tvelarde@blackmesagolfclub.com.