There was a time when simply kicking rocks into puddles could turn into a vicious competition ending in an altercation, but since my brother Mark has spent the better half of the last decade with the Navy we have proven our parents correct with regards to all that “one day you will appreciate each other” type stuff.
We are still fairly competitive, though.
When it comes to golf, the battles are always close because we are equally matched and horribly skilled. No one would mistake our swings for Charles Barkley’s, but we do put up the same numbers the Sacramento Kings give up, which in golf is not a good thing. In fact, the best way to analogize my inept relationship with golf is to use other sports as I frequently do.
One positive in our fairway futility is the fact that we can’t get too frustrated. It’s not like we really expect to have a round that is memorable in a way other than nearly striking a greenskeeper, or almost shattering the clavicle of a goose, if they have them.
There are just enough good shots, maybe one every other hole, that make it appear we might know what we are doing.
Golf is also probably the closest competition we have now, as Mark is clearly better with a rifle, scalpel and diapers while I specialize in writing self-deprecating columns and catching fish.
It would be interesting though, to see where things stand on the basketball court. He used to have the advantage until he had to have his wrist screwed and plated back together after an on-base basketball mishap in Iraq.
Anyway, last week he was back state-side for some leave from his deployment in Guam. The family gathered in Oceanside to play with the newest Lund, a 1-year old with exactly six teeth so far, while Mark and I renewed our rivalry on the links.
We were equally and predictably awful through 17, which set up a legendary finish.
On the 18th tee, my brother asked for the score. I had a one-shot lead after trailing by three with five holes left. We both smiled.
The competitive DNA that had laid dormant due to distance was on active duty. We were back on the Klawock River tossing spinners at salmon, playing basketball before school in 30-degree weather, bloody-noses frozen.
It may have been the pressure of taking down Mark in the latest Lund Brothers Showdown that made me shank my drive into the trees — or simply the fact that I am no good.
Either way it didn’t matter, because he hooked his drive into the grove on the opposite side of the fairway. I had a nice lie between some eucalyptus and palm trees with a slight window to a very reachable green, but my shot was like an old Big Ten football game, “three yards and a cloud of dust”.
I turned to see how Mark was faring. I heard the distinct sound of golf-ball-on-tree and watched him walk backward for his third shot.
We eventually ended up on the green. For no other reason than to add suspense to our putts, we retraced the route to our current lie — we were both putting for double-bogey.
He was 10 feet out, I was three times that. If he holed and I two-putted, we’d tie, which is an unwritten violation of brother code.
I’ve never been described as patient, and keeping with my green routine of a quick check then lining up and tapping away I sent the ball I found on the hill side while looking for my errant drive on the 14th forward.
I watched it slowly traverse the 30 feet, invent a slight break right and disappear into the cup.
Never in the history of golf had there been a more epic championship-winning double-bogey.
I’m sure my brother would like to mention the round we played the day before, but he’d have to get his own column.
To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail email@example.com.