Special Report # 7: A series from Stephen P. Bye; Correspondent for the Mirror Rearview, a fictional newspaper in Laicos County, an imaginary USA municipality.
(November 11, 2018) Yesterday, the County Executives had a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Sausage Creek Links to celebrate the grand opening of the renovated clubhouse. Alice N. Wonderland was given the honor of cutting the large blue ribbon at the front entrance of the building, as most of the Laicos County Executives linked their arms in solidarity. Lester “Duff” Hacker, the Golf Commissioner who orchestrated the transformation of the golf club over the past three months, made a few comments followed by a long applause. About one hundred county residents were invited to join, as well as several members of the press. Immediately after the sizzling hot afternoon ceremony concluded, one hundred blue sausage link-shaped balloons, were launched into the clear sky.
Ms. Wonderland led us on a tour of the clubhouse facility. Our first stop was in the basement where the comfort room is located. Hacker pointed out that his vision of the comfort room arose after observing frustrated golfers swearing, tossing clubs, or breaking them over their knees on the course, as well as kicking their cars repeatedly after completing their round. The comfort room was created for a safe place to relax before or after the round for golfers to handle their inhibitions or frustrations. Hacker added that he selected the basement as the perfect location for the comfort room, as no one could attempt to jump out a window, since there weren’t any in the subterranean level of the building. The padded walls are painted in soft pastel colors, with unique a specially designed indirect lighting plan, which changes intermittently. Six couches and two water beds, all adorned with large pillows, are separated by large natural plants. Each couch and bed have a headset for golfers to listen to an array of soothing music, selected by a team of consultants. Two private booths are placed in opposite corners of the room, where golfers can call an emergency number to speak with a psychologist at the Laicos County Hospital. Ms. Wonderland pointed to a dispenser, where the golfers can purchase a black mask to cover their eyes or a soft rubber ball to squeeze during their session.
The group split up to tour the women’s and men’s locker room facilities. Hacker led the men on a tour of the Gentlemen’s bathroom, where two attendants dressed in white tuxedos and white gloves stood at attention. I noticed their names stenciled on their silver-plated tags…one guy was named John Flusher and the other was Lou Lavabo. Hacker pointed to the air cleaning system, when every minute, a flowery scent was pumped into the air. The bathroom stalls are separated by soundproof walls, finished in natural walnut. Hacker unrolled a few stands of toilet paper and pressed it to his cheek, gloating about the moisturized feel and soft texture. He directed us to four private shower stalls, pointed to the multi-head showers that created a special rainfall effect. Finally, he pointed to the gold-plated sink fixtures, bragging that his bathroom upgrades were the highest quality of any public golf operation in the country. When a reporter of a television crew asked him about the cost of the improvements, Hacker shrugged, replying that he was given an open-ended budget. He further elaborated that money was no object if meant that the Laicos County residents had an overall pleasurable experience.
The men and women congregated in the restaurant, now called The Laicos Link-Inn, where the golfers could network with their friends and meet new folks around community tables. Hacker indicated that traditional square private tables were replaced with round ones at the recommendation of five sociologists, to promote friendliness and to encourage open conversations. The dining room was lit by ten gold-plated chandeliers and the walls were painted in a watercolor pattern. The wait staff was smartly dressed in white shirts and pants, with red waistcoats, red bow-ties as well as red and white polka-dot designer tennis shoes. Ms. Wonderland introduced the new chef, Russ Tarrant, who had been hired from a famous New York City bistro. Tarrant gave a brief overview of his menu plans, focusing on locally grown farm to table ingredients. He also introduced his assistant, Sue Sheff.
Our last stop was the golf pro shop, where light symphonic music was piped into through multiple speakers creating a pleasant stereo affect. The head golf-pro, Frank Furter, escorted around the room, which had many mannikins dressed in fashionable golf attire, ordered from designers in Milan, Paris, and Miami. I checked the price tags on several items, which seemed to be very expensive compared to other stores in the area where I shop. I peeked into one of the dressing rooms, which was furnished with two plush chairs are five-sided mirrors. Furter reported that a couturier named “Stich” Taylor, had been hired to ensure perfect fittings for the shoppers.
As I waited for the valet to deliver my car, I briefly spoke with Jim Nasticks, a long-time conservative member of the Laicos County Commission. He explained that he attended the ribbon-cutting event only to see how Les Hacker had spent County funds. He was livid at the outrageous expenditures and policies that Hacker had implemented. An avid golfer, Nasticks added that he will never play the three county courses again, sighting the ridiculous transformation of three great golf operations into silly amusement parks. He recently joined the Laicos Country Club and now plays golf there.
My next report will be in two weeks.
Special Report # 6: Stephen P. Bye; Correspondent for the Mirror Rearview, a fictional newspaper in Laicos County, an imaginary USA municipality.
(October 25, 2018); Last week, I met with Lester “Duff” Hacker, the Golf Director for the Laicos County Golf courses. The following is the full content of my interview with him.
Reporter: “After three months in the position as Director of Golf operations, how would you summarize your accomplishments so far?”
Hacker: “Terrific…I give myself a ten rating…naturally, on a scale of ten.”
Reporter: “Have you decided to start playing golf to evaluate the courses from a golfer’s perspective?”
Hacker: “I see no reason to learn the game at this stage. I have such great ideas without knowing anything about the game of golf. The positive e-mails are flooding my in-box…more every day too!”
Reporter: “I’ve been getting hundreds of messages from veteran golfers who are very upset with your changes. They feel that there are too many silly gimmicks and hundreds of rank amateurs playing who tie up the course for hours.”
Hacker: “Those golfers are way too serious. We want to expand the number of players in Laicos County and have them enjoy the experience. We want to see smiling faces…not grumpy ones who complain about getting double boogers and triple boogers.”
Reporter: “Mr. Hacker, I believe that they’re referring to double and triple bogies.”
Hacker: “Oh…I thought they were talking about nasal problems…you know…boogers. What are bogies?
Reporter: “A golf term when they score over par.”
Hacker: “So they don’t feel up to par, huh? They should eat in our new health-oriented restaurants.”
Reporter: “That’s another grievance. They miss the hot dogs, brats, fries, onion rings and nachos.”
Hacker: “Well, they should get over it…that junk food is not coming back. We want healthy golfers. No sugar either…we’ve cut out serving any kind of artificial beverages like soda…even diet soda. We only carry natural water and organic fruit and vegetable juices.”
Reporter: “Last week, I ordered sugar for my coffee from the half-way house and they didn’t have any.”
Hacker: “Stop right there, Mr. Bye. They’re not called half-way houses any more. You may recall that I didn’t want golfers to think that they were visiting a prison building or place for drug addicts. I’ve renamed them the “Sugar Shack”, “Love Shack” and “Psychedelic Shack”.”
Reporter: “If you’re a sugar free environment, why did you label it the “Sugar Shack.”
Hacker: “We wanted to be known as a sweet place, of course.”
Reporter: “Oh, of course…that makes perfect sense. I stopped in the Psychedelic Shack two weeks ago. The menu had some interesting names for the food dishes and beer. How did that come about?”
Hacker: “The course is named Round Trip Fields. Some of my old hippie friends told me that everything should reflect a hallucination trip, like they experienced after taking LSD. We looked up a lot of psychedelic terms for songs and music groups and picked out stuff that matched up with food.”
Reporter: “Yeah…the names for the holes too. Have you ever experimented with LSD, Mr. Hacker?”
Hacker: “Yes, I think that’s the brand of medicine that I take when I have a case of hemorrhoids.”
Reporter: “I know a lot of really good golfers who refuse play Round-Trip Fields ever again. Players travelled here from all over the country to play it too, since all the golf magazines rated it as one of the toughest public golf courses in the U.S. They won’t come to play there anymore.”
Hacker: “But now we’re getting hundreds on new players from Laicos County who’ve never played it before. They like the free golf balls, the bumpers and the curbs…and we’re collecting more fees with the designated golfer and the hypnotist. My best idea yet was for players to grade themselves by setting up their own scoring goals at Sausage Creek Links. People love to self-grade. That’s the procedure the County is using for annual employee performance reviews, since the new County Commissioners were voted in two years ago. That’s how I rose so quickly in the ranks in the Waste Department.”
Reporter: “But many golfers want a set goal, like the course rating to measure their skills against.”
Hacker: “They can always play Hammer Valley Club…they use the original par scoring system there.”
Reporter: “That course is very easy. Low handicappers won’t play there either.”
Hacker: “Mr. Bye…please don’t use the word handicap to describe our patrons. We refer to those folks as people with special needs.”
Reporter: “Yes…I’m sorry. Since you mentioned special needs, how is the comfort animal program going? I heard that a few golfers brought pigs, horses, and snakes…python snakes.”
Hacker: “Yes, I ‘ve had some pressure to restrict the type of animals. The horses and pigs deposited large piles of manure on the course and greens and two pythons crawled away into the brush.”
Reporter: “Well, dogs cause problems too. Have you ever seen anyone who had to play out of a turd lie?
Hacker: No, I haven’t…but it sounds like it would be a crappy hit.”
Reporter: “I played with a lady who had a dog that wanted to pick up my golf ball all the time. The mutt thought the balls were bones and gnawed through four of them, so they weren’t useable.”
Hacker: “We have pet caddies now…they could keep the dogs away from your ball.”
Reporter: “Why should I pay a pet caddie fee for another golfer who brings a comfort animal that’s not giving ME any comfort?”
Hacker: “Well, you don’t want any more of your golf balls damaged or eaten…do you? So, Mr. Bye…I see that it’s three o’clock and I’ve put in my challenging five hours for the day. I must end the interview now and get home to relax. This job is very stressing.”
Reporter: “Certainly, Mr. Hacker. I wouldn’t want Laicos County to have to pay you for overtime. Thanks so much for sharing your valuable time with me this afternoon. Good luck.”
Special Report # 5: Stephen P. Bye; Correspondent for the Mirror Rearview, a fictional newspaper in Laicos County, an imaginary USA municipality.
(October 11, 2018) This reporter investigated Round Trip Fields, the third Laicos County golf course that I’ve played since the implementation of the new golf policies by Lester “Duff” Hacker, the recently appointed Laicos County Golf Manager. For many years, Round Trip Fields has been rated in the toughest 100 courses in the U.S. by at least three golf magazines, so I was keenly interested in how Hacker had transitioned the course to entice new amateur golfers to play there.
I brought three golfing buddies along, avoiding the trauma of being assigned to a foursome who had no golf experience. Right away, I noted that all green fees were waived through the month of October. The club professional, Tim Leery, informed me that Hacker made that decision to encourage new players to play the revamped Fields course, as well as to provide three complimentary golf ball due to the common knowledge of multiple lost golf balls in the hazard areas, ravines, and multiple lakes. I discovered the complimentary balls were a hodgepodge of old range balls, probably not a bad idea, as most amateur golfers probably don’t care what ball they play if they’re free.
Exiting the pro shop, we saw a sign that read, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”. With kaleidoscopic images forming a prismatic pattern on the golden brick pavers, we followed the path to the first tee. The first hole, a par 4, was named “Good Vibrations”, a confidence builder for sure and the teeing area was created using curved multi-colored rainbow markers. A creek ran along the right side of the fairway, although I could see that a two-foot high rubber bumper had been erected along the entire length of the hole, obviously placed there to keep balls out of the stream.
The second hole was called “Strawberry Fields Forever”. A lake flanked the left side, although a thirty-foot high fence had been erected to deflect balls hit toward the water. A huge mural depicting a field of strawberries had been painted on the extensive wooden fence.
The third hole was a narrow par 4, bordered by deep ravines on both sides of the fairway, which required marksmanship-like skills to navigate. I was surprised to see that netting had been erected along the edges of the ravines to trap errant shots. The hole was named “Dear Mr. Fantasy”.
The fourth hole, called “Eight Miles High”, had a majestic setting on a high bluff with an eighty-foot drop to the narrow fairway below. The hole seemed identical to the former design until we reached the green, where I saw that all six deep sand bunkers had been replaced with artificial grass turf.
The fifth hole, named “Sky Pilot” was a par 3 requiring a two-hundred yard carry over deep a rock quarry to reach the green. A professional looking golfer was standing on the tee box and I quickly learned that he could be engaged for five dollars as a designated hitter to play my tee shot. All my pals hired the pro golfer, Cy Kilott, who easily hit their golf balls on the green. Feeling confident, I elected to play my own shot, but subsequently hit my three old range balls into the quarry and recorded a 7X.
The sixth hole was formerly a six-hundred-yard par 5, although it had just been changed to a par 7. They named it “Ball of Confusion”. No wonder…the hole was designed with dozens of mounds, resulting in curious golf ball bounces down the fairway.
The next hole was named “Purple Haze”. I noted that smoke form the nearby half-way house, renamed the “Psychedelic Shack”, was floating across the fairway, obscuring the ball flight. After heading toward the green, I could hear the Temptations song playing and saw that angled concrete curbs had been installed on both sides of the fairway, forming a funnel to the green. Creatively using both sides of the curbs, my ball carried into the cup for a natural eagle 2 on the par 4.
As I neared the eighth hole, called “Hypnotized”, I observed a lady wearing a turban and a long purple gown, sitting on a chair next to a couch. She was a hypnotist, named Clare Voyant, claiming she could mesmerize me to hit a hole-in-one on the par 3 hole. One of my pals engaged her, laying on the couch for several minutes, as she tried to transfix his ugly swing. Surprisingly, he struck his ball on the green, although at least thirty feet from the hole. As he demanded a refund of his five-dollar fee, I saw a small dog pick up his golf ball, carry it to the hole, and drop it in. We congratulated him on his first ace ever.
We finally reached the long par 5, ninth hole, called “Are You Experienced?” We were all experienced golfers but were tired of the silly gimmicks implemented by Mr. Hacker. The tee box had been placed two hundred yards ahead of the former markers, creating a three hundred-fifty-yard hole, that was still identified as a par 5. I easily hit the green in two shots and two-putted for a birdie. I quickly tabulated my score, shooting a 39, despite the 7X…not a bad round!
Deciding to quit, we eager to drain a few beers in the “Psychedelic Shack” to celebrate my partner’s hole-in-one. The Chambers Brothers’ song “Time has Come Today” played over the speakers as we sat down in the “White Room”, which had cream colored carpeting with the odor of incense permeating from the kitchen. Our table that featured a lava lamp and an odd-shaped bowl filled with miniature peppermint sticks.
Lucy, a blonde waitress with a diamond earning in her nose, came right over to take our order. The specials for the day consisted of “White Rabbit” stew, a chicken sandwich called “White Bird”, and a flat-iron butterflied steak called an Iron Butterfly. We elected to have a pitcher of “Magic Carpet Ride”, a craft beer brewed right there in the “Psychedelic Shack”. We ordered a second pitcher, just as another old song, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” started to play. We decided that we were in no condition to order another round, so asked Lucy for our check. My buddy decided that he wouldn’t pay for the entire bill, even though he had the hole-in-one, so he asked her to split the check. Lucy promptly ripped it into four pieces. After patching the bill together, I observed that there was a service fee charge of thirty percent, a huge tip for a waitress with her head in the clouds.
As we were leaving, the song “Legend of a Mind” began to play. Lucy immediately started to shriek and began to tremble, so we rushed to her aid. Between sobbing, she murmured that Tim Leery, the club pro, was dead. We quickly informed her that she had only heard those words in the old Moody Blues tune, reassuring her that the golf pro was still very much alive. Just to be sure, we checked on our way back to the parking lot. Sure enough, Leery was giving a lesson to a golfer on the driving range.
Upon referencing my Special Report on August 29th and after reflecting on the experience at Round-Trip Fields, it was very apparent that Mr. Hacker wanted to keep a hallucination theme for Round-Trip Fields by enhancing the references to psychedelic songs and bands in the era of the late ‘60’s and early ‘70s. I have arranged a meeting with “Duff” Hacker next week and will post the interview in two weeks.
Special Report # 4: Stephen P. Bye; Correspondent for the Mirror Rearview, a fictional newspaper in Laicos County, USA.
(September 28, 2018) This reporter played Sausage Creek Links yesterday, comparing it with Hammer Valley Club, that I tried to play two weeks ago when I gave up after one hole. To avoid being matched with beginners again, I scanned the online tee sheet, and observed open tee times on the back nine holes before nine o’clock, so I elected to just show up at seven-thirty.
I remitted the ten-dollar green fee to the new golf professional; whose was appropriately named Frank Furter. Directly heading toward the tenth tee, I skirted the driving range and practice green, hearing the old Perry Como song, “Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom).” I followed a path bordered by brown wooden markers designed as slightly curved sausage links, each with a smiley face stenciled at the top. After I turned a corner on the path, I saw the former half-way house, now renamed the “Sugar Shack”. The Fireballs’ old song was just concluding, when the Archie’s “Sugar, Sugar” began to play. I ordered a copy of coffee with sugar, although the attendant couldn’t find a packet or a container, so I reluctantly had to drink it black. As I turned to walk away, I suggested that they play the tune “No Sugar Tonight” by The Guess Who.
Near the tenth tee, I grabbed a scorecard from the box, observing that each of the holes now had been named based on types of sausages…Polish, Italian, Blood, Bratwurst, Knackwurst, Kielbasa, Liver, Summer, and Portuguese. I also noted that there was an additional column for par score for every hole, each of which was blank. I observed an asterisk with a footnote stating that each golfer could establish a personal par score, based upon self-grading.
The tees were marked with what looked like round sausage patties with smiley faces painted on them. The eyebrows were created as two arrows, pointing golfers to the direction of the hole, knowing that with hundreds of new golfers now playing, most wouldn’t know what direction to hit. The benches, which formerly had the names of local business painted on them, were now covered in multi-color floral patterns, drawn by local artists. I also noted that the cups were still regulation size and that all the green and pink checked pin flags had the words “Be Happy” sewn on them, as well as a smiley face.
Fortunately, no golfers joined, and I played in only seventy-five minutes, shooting a 43, or 7 over the established par of 36 for nine holes. I also decided to self-grade and established an adjusted par of 54, so my 43 converted to 11 under par…my best by far!
As I passed the “Sugar Shack” toward the clubhouse, I heard “A Spoonful of Sugar” playing over the speakers. Like the previous visit to the Hammer Valley Club, I noted several construction trucks surrounded the clubhouse. The foreman told me that work was progressing on the comfort rooms and restroom upgrades. I will return to Sausage Creek Links in a few weeks to evaluate all the final improvements in the next few weeks.
Special Report #3: Stephen P. Bye; Correspondent for the Mirror Rearview, a fictional newspaper in Laicos County, USA.
(September 13, 2018) This reporter decided to play Hammer Creek Club yesterday to evaluate the ongoing changes implemented by Lester “Duff” Hacker over the past month, since beginning his new position as Laicos County Golf Manager. I decided to play as a single golfer and made an online tee time at 9 AM for nine holes of golf. As I drove into the facility, I immediately noticed that the main billboard was gone, as well as several advertising signs bordering the parking lot, which had very few cars. I was able to park near the clubhouse, which was being repainted in pastel colors.
I entered the golf shop and noted that my cousin, Stan Bye, the former golf course starter, was working the counter. He had been replaced by Yogi Budda, who had the title of Golf Enhancement Greeter. She has a degree in Sports Psychology and also works as the course Yoga instructor. I showed my driver’s license, evidence for my $10 greens fee for a Laicos County resident. Stan issued me a frequent golfer card and punched the first tab. He pointed to a box of paper slips on the counter, showing me how to properly fold the piece of paper to form a tee.
I immediately went to the driving range, where the speaker system was playing “Home on the Range.” I was thrilled to see that the range balls were now complimentary and neatly arranged in a smiley face pattern, but I was disappointed to see that I had to hit off green mats instead of the traditional natural grass. A bright yellow arrow was painted on the mat, pointing out to the range. There wasn’t a rubber tee to elevate a ball in order for me to hit my driver from the mat and it took nearly a minute to fold the paper slip to create a tee, which obliterated on my first strike, forming a snowflake pattern in the air. Not wanting to waste more time to create another tee, I pulled a plastic tee from my bag and inserted into the grass in front of the mat. Before I could hit the ball, Yogi Budda rushed over and pulled the tee out of the ground. She lectured me for two minutes on the environmental damage caused by plastic and wooden tees, as well as the natural resources wasted to manufacture them. Fortunately, I was able to talk Miss Budda out of a fine and suspension, pointing out that the club hadn’t posted a warning sign about using traditional golf tees.
As I started my warm up routine, I observed Miss Budda leading a small Yoga class on the grass area near the tee area, where three women, two older gentlemen, and three kids were stretched out on the grass. I had struck only three practice shots when a ball caromed off my golf bag, pivoting to see a 10-year old kid set up 15 yards to my left. He apparently badly shanked his shot. Observing him closely, he whiffed five time before finally striking a ball directly at my head, although I ducked just in time. I decided to move twenty yards further down the range. A new tune, “Feelin’ Groovy”, now played over the speakers.
I sauntered over to the putting green, where a large mural of Jabba the Hut from Star Wars had been painted on the wall. As I got closer, I could see a sign reading “Jabba Your Putt” above the painting. I pulled out three golf balls, preparing to practice my putting, seeing that the cups were 10 inches in diameter. I made every putt that I attempted, even from over 30 feet. I’m convinced that the new experiment using wider cups is a pretty good idea.
I arrived at the first tee ten minutes prior to my tee time and introduced myself to the other golfers, who included Rick O’Shea, the kid with the shank problem; Jerry Atricks, an 80 year old gentleman, and an attractive young blonde woman, whose name was Lulu Doozie. Yogi Budda lectured us the course rules, which restricted smoking, swearing, club-throwing, and engaging in flatulence. She pitched us on renting an iPod unit with equipped with headphones. I read the song list, which included “Happy”, “Happy Trails”, “Happy Together”, “Oh, Happy Day”, “Happy Days are Here Again”, “What a Wonderful World”, “The Green, Green Grass of Home”, “Grazin’ in the Grass”, “Greenfields”, “Green Grass”, “Let’s Groove”, “Fly Like an Eagle”, “Bird Song”, “Albatross”, “Ace in the Hole” “You are my Sunshine”, and Bing Crosby’s “Straight Down the Middle”. I wasn’t interested, although the geezer handed her five dollars to rent the music device.
Miss Budda then handed each of us a yellow balloon and instructed us to blow them up, telling us that it would capture all of our golf anxieties. She then urged us to release our fears by letting the balloons go, launching them in the air creating flatulence-like sounds. I slowly let the air out of my balloon, creating a series of squeaks. She then asked us to hold hands and to close our eyes, leading us in singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. Immediately after finish the song, she gave me a big hug.
Deciding to hit first, I formed the paper slip into a tee and delicately placed my golf ball on it, noting the tee markers were white round spheres with a smiley face painted on both of them, as well as an arrow pointing in the direction of the fairway. As I swung hard, the tee shredded into confetti fragments, obstructing my view of the ball flight, although the kid spotted it in the middle of the fairway, over 200 yards out.
Jerry and Rick moved to the forward tees, designated for seniors and youngsters. Rick whiffed six times before shanking his drive off the right tee marker, the ball coming to rest between his feet. His next shot ricocheted off the women’s tee marker and ironically, his ball came to rest between his feet again. He finally topped his ball just beyond the woman’s tee. Jerry could barely bring his club back and nearly fell over on his practice swing. After several attempts, he simply bunted his golf ball near where Rick’s shot had landed.
Lulu now prepared to hit from the lady’s tee box, which was bordered in a flower arrangement. She reached down in her golf bag, and unzipped a large pocket and plucked out a black cat. She announced that it was her comfort animal, called Lovey. Apparently a beginning golfer, she took position as if to hit backwards towards the men’s tee box, although I alerted to the directional arrows painted on the pink tee markers. Lulu turned around and hit the ball about 10 feet after four tries.
It took us about 40 minutes to reach the green, when I observed that the cups were the traditional size. I recorded a triple bogey the hole, primarily because Lovey crossed in front of my ball on two shots. I decided to quit, feeling the black cat had cursed me and besides that, I couldn’t allocate four more hours to finish the remaining eight holes on the front nine. As I approached the golf shop, Yogi Budda scampered over with her arms held open. Knowing that she wanted to embrace me, I quickly pivoted toward the parking lot to avoid her.
As I passed the clubhouse restaurant, I noticed only two patrons were seated at the bar, and as I loaded my clubs into my car, I counted only fifteen autos in the parking lot. I couldn’t understand why so few golfers were playing yesterday as the weather was perfect. I’ll visit the other County clubs within the next two weeks and report on my observations.
Special Report #2: Stephen P. Bye; Correspondent for the Mirror Rearview, a fictional newspaper in Laicos County, USA.
(August 29, 2016) This reporter interviewed Lester “Duff” Hacker, who was recently appointed as Laicos County Golf Manager. Two weeks ago, the County commissioners voted to terminate a ten-year old management contract with Golf Really Incredible Management (GRIM) for the three County golf courses and approved a new position of County Golf Manager. Hacker is a twenty year County employee, who most recently, was a senior manager in the County’s waste management division.
Mr. Hacker has developed a new business plan for the three golf courses and has already implemented several changes. Hacker’s ideas, which were wholly embraced by Alice N. Wonderland, County Executive and the majority of the commissioners, are very revolutionary in the golfing business. In essence, Ms. Wonderland wants to provide citizens with a more enjoyable experience and expand the golfer population and believes that the County can increase overall revenues by operating the golf courses directly under Mr. Hackers’ leadership.
The following are the details of Mr. Hacker’s plans:
- No golf fees will be paid by kids under 12 and by seniors over 60. Hacker believes that the lost revenue will be replaced by increased food and beverage sales in the restaurant and concession stands, as well as strategically placing several vending machines throughout the course. In addition, non-resident golfer rates will be increased to $75 for 18 holes and $50 for 9 holes, plus an imbedded $25 excise tax. Fees for other County residents have been reduced to $20 from $30 for 18 holes, and $10 from $15 for 9 holes. In addition, a frequent golfer program will now provide a free round for every ten rounds paid.
- The maintenance staff is currently removing advertising on benches, tee markers, and in the clubhouse. In addition, the large billboards located on the roads leading to the courses will be demolished. Hacker believes that signs and billboards are aesthetic eyesores, destroying the natural beauty of the golf courses. Hacker anticipates that the advertising revenue, approximately $50,000 annually, will be replaced by fines for violating golf policies, as well as the doubling of the non-resident golfer rates.
- The toilet paper in all restroom has been upgraded to four plies of finely pulped paper, enhanced with lotion and wax, having been special ordered through a luxury paper supplier. The toilet paper has multi-color flower designs to match the interior wallpaper, which is being selected by a well-known national interior design firm. Hacker has also interviewed fifty candidates as restroom attendants for the four bathrooms in the clubhouse, the two restroom facilities on each course, as well as for the concession buildings. Hacker unveiled the suit designs for the attendants, which have been ordered from well-known fashion designer in Paris, France.
- Hacker strongly felt that the traditional concession stand name of “half-way house” implied that golfers were visiting a center for addicts or prisoners. Therefore, the names for each half-way house for the 3 courses have been changed to “Love Shack” at the Hammer Valley Club, “Sugar Shack” at Sausage Creek Links and “Psychedelic Shack” at Round Trip Fields. Those respective songs, recorded by the B-52’s, Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, and The Temptations, will be played repeatedly over the speaker systems. I questioned Hacker about the unusual choice of the name “Psychedelic Shack” on the Round Trip Fields course. He responded that most golfers need therapy, often hallucinating after posting atrocious scores the front nine holes. Round Trip Fields is rated in the top 100 most difficult public golf courses in the United States.
- Golfers can no longer use plastic or wooden tees, to comply with the environmental policies implemented by the County Commissioners in June. Free paper tees, which are biodegradable, are available in the golf shops. A fine of $15 will be levied for any golfer using plastic or wood tees and the violators will also be removed immediately from the golf course.
- Plastic straws are no longer supplied at the courses, although paper cups and glasses have been ordered with a special funnel design around the rim to restrict spilling. A 3-D printer has been purchased to manufacture the cups, as well as the paper golf tees.
- Hacker showed me the advertisement that will run in the Mirror Rearview this weekend for animal support caddies, who are also permitted to carry golf bags. Young kids with pet experience are preferred.
- A famous architectural firm has been engaged to design the two safe rooms in the clubhouse as well as the couches to comfort depressed golfers. Hacker has also developed a list of psychologists who will be interviewed as hot line consultants, as well as for permanent therapists for the “Psychedelic Shack”.
- A search has been initiated for a well-known chef, who will create rotating menus at the three courses and will use locally grown organic foods.
- Finally, 10-inch diameter cups have been ordered for the greens. This is one of Hacker’s key ideas, as he wants more golfers to record lower scores and feel happy. However, Hacker confessed that the state and national ruling golf organizations have threatened to remove the three County courses as officially sanctioned golf facilities, likening them to miniature golf operations. Hacker is consulting with the County attorney on appealing this.
I will update readers on Mr. Hacker’s plans in two weeks.
Welcome to my first blog. In this fictional presentation, I take the role of a reporter for the Mirror Rearview, a news service that covers the satirical events in Laicos County, an imaginary municipality in the United States. This blog will be updated at least twice per month.
Special Report #1: Stephen P. Bye, correspondent for the Mirror Rearview.
(August 16, 2018) This reporter has learned that the Laicos County Commissioners have held secret meetings over the past six months regarding the operation of the three municipal golf courses. A subcommittee, headed by County Executive Alice N. Wonderland, confirmed that the ten-year old contract with Golf Really Incredible Management, also known as GRIM, was terminated, due to the violation of a clause in the agreement. Wonderland also confirmed that a new county position of County Golf Manager has been approved by the Commission.
GRIM, has consistently been ranked in the top three golf course operators in the U.S. by Club News Today. In addition, two of the Laicos County Courses, Hammer Valley Club and Sausage Creek Links, have been listed in the best municipal golf operations in the country, based upon quality of service and the high level of maintenance of the golf courses.
Ms. Wonderland would not comment on the reason for the contract termination, although a spokesperson for GRIM stated that the cause was due to problems with the food service and restroom maintenance. “Several people have complained about pungent odors on theafter eating bratwurst, sauerkraut, and beans. The restroom problem was apparently related to the thickness of toilet paper supplied. The termination was grim news, as we were not given a warning or notice to cure the violation in the contract.”
Off the record, Jim Nasticks, a long term commissioner, told me that Ms. Wonderland’s independent research had confirmed that GRIM’s annual management fees and revenue sharing levels with the County were out of line with other public golf operations, even though Laicos County has consistently netted over five hundred thousand dollars annually under GRIM’s contract.
Ms. Wonderland confirmed that Lester “Duff” Hacker has been hired as the new County Golf Manager, under a twenty year contract with an annual salary of two hundred thousand dollars plus an incentive of one percent on all golf course gross revenues. Hacker will immediately leave his County position as a senior manager in the waste disposal department. Ms. Wonderland and the subcommittee members were overwhelmed with Hacker’s unique recommendations for new golf operations.
Mr. Hacker admitted that he has never played a round of golf, but boasted about his fresh ideas for the County golf courses, which include free golf for kids under twelve and senior citizens over sixty years of age with available tee times during prime hours; the elimination of advertising in the clubhouse, benches, and tee markers; converting sand traps to grass bunkers; encouraging golfers to bring comfort animals on the course, and enlarging the cups by three inches in diameter to foster happier golfers. Hacker also wants to build two comfort rooms in the men’s and women’s locker rooms, so golfers have a quiet place to reflect after a poor round. The rooms will have a state of the art sound system with headphones for golfers to listen to soothing music and hot lines will be installed to connect with one of three local psychologists. Hacker plans to replace unhealthy food items such as hot dogs, bratwursts, hamburgers, onion rings, chips and nachos with an organic menu of locally grown products. Finally, restroom attendants will be hired to maintain the highest of sanitary standards and toilet paper quality will be enhanced with lotion and wax with four plies of very finely pulped paper.
I will report frequently on the transition of the Laicos County municipal golf operations.