By Bill Borel and John Borel
(The continuing saga of two fine brothers rediscovering they are two fine brothers while running after little white balls. Please note: These letters were also written lovingly to two patient wives: Danelle Borel and Phyllis Bader-Borel. I imagine they’ll be hearing these stories forever! )
Bill: 6th day….As everyone knows, the fourth day together can get old. Funny quirks become irritants. The question, “Why did you do that?” becomes a reason to question one’s manhood. But on the 6th day, laughs replace sneers and the golf battle becomes reason to join forces and best the common enemy, the golf courses. Here is the most common view of John trying to find something.
John: Day 6 We were beat to a pulp after playing two rounds of golf yesterday, but we really aren’t the worse for wear. We didn’t even try to go to the hot tub or swim pool afterwards. Just sat on our balcony and ate up the snacks in the frig, and listened to all of the goings on at this place. Someone was cooking steak and burned them. Gaa!
Of course, I think Bill is getting annoyed with me. He accuses me of picking fights, whereas I am merely attempting to impart some wisdom. On the golf course, he told the couple we were playing with that mother would have frowned on the bad shots I was making, or something like that. I forget what was said, actually. But I assure you he is trouble. Perhaps this sibling competition has gone too far?
Our second game was played at a course that wound through a huge development called Cathedral City. We had to travel miles of roads between holes, following little signs. It took a lot of guesswork. And the scores weren’t too good. In fact, Bill stopped keeping score, and I had a 112 in that second game. (I had a 102 in the first game, but we were given a really nice free lunch there.) I had to pay him $4, but he picked up the $5 tip. Hmmm. I guess that means I paid most of the tip, but he also tipped the ball boy. This morning we’re off to Joshua Tree National Park and then, you guessed it, more golf in the afternoon.
John: November 14. Hi, these are some photos of Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree National Park (where rustlers used to hide their contraband cattle) as well as a couple of photos of Bill and me. I’m not sure what he is doing in the golf course. We’re both tired- I was too tired to shop for dinner, but my hunger drove me on. We didn’t even bet on the game today. We were just trying to survive. I had a score of 106. We went to the hot tub after dinner. We’re going to play two rounds of golf again tomorrow. We may go out to dinner, because we’re running out of food. The sunrises and sunsets have been beautiful, and we keep seeing exotic birds.
John: Day 7 – early morning golf at Tahquitz, my worst game ever. We stopped keeping score. We blamed it all on the May-December couple we were playing with, who were racing around the course like maniacs, the older, successful businessman trying to impress the cute blonde…causing all kinds of mayhem as they raced in front of us while we were in the act of shooting. Most of the time we felt invisible. For both of us, it was probably the worst pairing with other golfers ever (along with being a pretty pitiful performance on our part). Fortunately I found more balls than I lost. Bill and I had time for breakfast and a Bloody Mary before the next group behind us came in. The Ranger had stopped to talk to us twice to say we were setting a speed record.
The natural environment here is special. Today, before our second round , at Cimarron Golf course, we sat on the veranda downing some soft drinks and watched a fox run across the golf course , perhaps checking out the rabbits. Migrating birds dot the fairways. A hawk flew over our car this morning.
And a postscript : after our second round, at Cimarron, one of the nicest couples we have ever played with – two days ago – came out on the veranda and we all enjoyed a beer together. They had been playing just behind us. What fun. Strange though, the golf the course restaurants and bars here shut down after the last golfer has come in. The door locked, and we left our glasses on the veranda. But what beautiful sunsets and sunrises.
Second postscript. Bill will write about this, but we figured it out – too late. The couple above wanted to leave us in the dust, but we were too rushed to even realize it. We should have told them to go ahead.
Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort, Palm Springs, CA, United States
John Borel: We are free ! We are free! We will be making a lot of strokes today, but we’re a bit worried about the Big Stroke. Two rounds today, again, in 80+ temps. There’s no reason we can’t improve our golf and still have fun. We’ve been perfecting our bad swings, grooving our muscle memory. We’re having fun! We’re Free! We’re living our fantasies. It all reminds me of the joke about the poor golfer who can’t hit over a certain ravine. So he puts down an old ball on the tee but a voice comes out of the heavens and says “Use a new ball!’ He doesn’t see anyone, but he figures it must be providence and puts down a new ball. “Take a practice stroke” the voice says. So he dutifully takes a practice stroke and then lines up again to hit the ball. “Take a second
practice stroke ” the voice says. So he takes a second stroke. Then the voice returns, “Use the old ball. ” Well, that’s how our golf has gone. The moral here is that all of this golfing hasn’t changed anything. Intensive golf (9 rounds in 7 days) does not seem to improve our games. But we have given it our best shot.
Today we did play two rounds. And we have waited all week for two things – a birdie and a game in the low 90s. Today we got both. I scored a two on a par 3 for our first swig of brandy. And Bill’s score was 92. at Cimarron golf course. (I had a 102). Yes, we’ve had our troubles, but we have lived our fantasy. Golf, golf , golf. We don’t even think about food. And, yes, we aren’t great golfers. We either make old mistakes or invent new ones. These golf courses have been tough, but so are we! Me
84035–84037 Terra Lago Pkwy, Indio, CA, United States
John: November 15 It’s our last day. Friday. I’ve been reading this bad book all week. … But I’ve been tired after a day of golf and a couple of drinks. So, for example, last night when I finally hit the sack at 12:30 and picked up the book, I didn’t read one word. I woke up at 4:00 AM with the light on and the book beside me in bed. The book is only 275 pages long. I think I’m near the end. I know I can finish it.
We’ve finished our last game of golf at Eagle Falls, one of the most difficult but most beautiful courses we’ve seen. I like to learn something new every day, and I learned two things today.
One: I now have a much better idea of how to measure the difficulty of a golf course. I could probably get hired as a course rater.
And two: I am getting a better understanding of how to tell when I am tired. (I. E. I had no patience for grocery shopping yesterday, and I usually love to do it ; today on the golf course I went through a period of not being able to hit the ball. I lost six or seven, can’t remember, and had to pick up twice when my score got above 8 for a hole. )
My score was 111.
But we were playing with a very nice couple. She was as good as he was. Another Canadian couple, who live here four months of the year. He noted that golf is 90 percent mental, and the other 10 percent is also mental. Well, it was a beautifully landscaped course to play; pristine water, lush green fairways, desert jungles for roughs and deep, white bunkers to trap you wherever you are playing. We have this last evening and then our great adventure is over. More later.
Indio, CA, United States
Bill: Day 9, sitting in a motel somewhere between Indio and Seattle on a day that started at 2 AM.
The idea of a brother reunion was hatched at a mini family reunion in Zion National Park 5 or 6 years ago. We both love golf and love to compete with each other. That is why we made it a golf week.
We didn’t know what to expect. We have only seen each other every four or five years, and only at family events. I left Arcata in1961, and he joined the Peace Corps to find many adventures around the world and he settled in New York. As kids we competed, but we were friends even though Mom always protected him. As kids John taught me many of the things I have used in life; and I always hoped to follow his example of experiencing as much as possible in life. I was lucky to be part of the renegades Mom called, “Oh, those last three, May, John and me.
But after all those years, and having different career and family paths, would we be able to survive in a competitive environment for a week? Would an off hand remark be cause for concern or harsh words, or even anger. Well, yes, of course. But it wasn’t. After 50 years we resumed the same relationship of friendly competition we had as children. The only difference being he couldn’t take advantage of my youth like he did when I was 10 and he was 14.
John has done a yeoman job of updating Pen in Hand and I have little of the daily events to add. We met incredibly nice couples (because we were a twosome we always were matched up with man and woman couples…almost all married couples). The one exception was a rude couple who raced around the golf course in record time and treated us as ghosts. It was only in our analysis over a beer after the game that John and I realized they were trying to get rid of us. Speculating why that would be, we considered the elderly looking rich guy was afraid his Viagra would wear off before he could get his young girl friend back home. Bad of me, I know.
I think Anna, the wife in the couple we played with on our last game summarized us best. She and her husband, Rick, were obviously very wealthy and travel around the world playing golf. But we had a great time with them. They were our best partners of the week, laughing at bad shots and giving compliments on good ones. On the 16th hole John and Rick had short drives to the left side of the fairway and Anna and I were standing by our carts on the right. Suddenly she put her hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said, “You are the nicest people we have ever played with.” Not, “One of the nicest,…the nicest”. I felt humbled and honored.
We are a good team Bro.
Ps, she also said our wives are very lucky. It’s True 🙂
John: Saturday morning, November 16,
Our adventure is over, and Bill and I both agree it could not have been more perfect. No illness or serious problems here or at home, no untoward incidents, only a few funny Borel genre mistakes, typically variable golf, beautiful weather, many unforgettable moments and lots of love. I give full credit to Bill for this crazy idea of writing contributions for Cathy blog, and you can also give him full blame for making you, our imaginary readers, wade through it. And thank you, Cathy, for making this possible to share with others. If we had tried to take notes and pen a story it wouldn’t have happened.
Bill is the best of brothers and the best of persons. Also he’s a better golfer than me, and he actually improved his golf during the week. Mother is up there smiling down on her two aging, sporty sons. And I finished my bad book; Bill found the word to describe it when I read him a paragraph: juvenile! And he was right on…but I did get a new appreciation of the life of spiders (lots of discussion of insects in this mystery “thriller”, and the bad guy gets stung to death by hornets. He’s allergic, and that’s also the solution to the mystery.) In retrospect I realize I may have starved a spider to death when I kept destroying his web in front of our door. Phyllis warned me not to bring my book home, but I couldn’t bear to leave it behind. One of the funniest stories on our golf trip came from a couple who said she knocked a nest of fire ants from a sand trap onto her clothing, and she couldn’t get rid of them until she got home. Well, dear reader, that’s about it. Thanks for sticking with us. I’m on my plane home to Saratoga Springs, and Bill is on his long drive to Seattle. Thank you.
John: PS: When I got home, I was telling Phyllis about all of our interesting conversations.. Phyllis asked me an interesting question: “What did you talk about? ” I realized we hadn’t really put that in our blog. Our answer would take a book, and I didn’t really want to put all of that in the blog. It was a conscious decision. But suffice it to say, we talked about anything and everything; like we were joined at the hip. I’m the Time Bandit and tended to talk about and analyze the day’s events. Bill is the Shapeshifter and poses piercing –alright – pushy questions, which drove long deep conversations over a beer or scotch or wine about things that aren’t often talked about like mother, prostate cancer, politics, religion, sex, God, and opera. (I tried to tell him he should just try it.). We’d sit on the balcony watching all the kids and their parents cavorting around in the hundreds of pools and hot tubs, and if we had to we’d call our wives for information we were lacking. Turns out both of us had problems remembering anything, so you can imagine how interesting those conversations must have been. Se la vie.
52° Mist and Fog
Saratoga Springs, NY, United States
Bill: Wrap up
So Dear trouble making niece, I see John suggested I do a wrap up of our conversations other than jokes and golf. I think we have taken too much of your space and maybe of your time so I will make this short…or at least as short as I can…by topics.
Family: On the fourth or fifth night we finally delved into the bottle of scotch and proceeded to love our siblings. We are so proud of them: Mary, the exciting intellect and undeniable leader of the pack. Ann, a woman ahead of her time, particularly on the environment and volunteerism. Joan, the consumate mother and wife, and adventurer. Gene, as good as it gets and no one loved our family more. May, unquestionably the most popular of all the Borels: pretty, smart, loyal, teacher and mom. And John and me, the competitive but best friend brothers.
God and religion: I think it was wine this night, but we did delve into the hereafter. And it is fitting we did not try to define God or the lack of God. Although a strong scientific case can be made humans are an accident of nature, there occur some unscientific events that do open the possibility of a force, or forces, that we simply cannot understand. And late into the evening we agreed to look at the act of dying as an opportunity to find ultimate knowledge.
Politics. We didn’t need anything to drink to discuss our frustration with our government and with the greed of those who control it. We know the only way this country can endure is to elect a government more concerned with the middle class and education than concentrating on tax benefits and laws for the wealthy. And we have a solution. It has never been suggested before to our knowledge, and we know it would take a constitutional amendment by the people to enact it because the politicians will hate it and fight it. I am prepared to give you, Cathy, a full description of this idea but not in this blog. But I am not trying to be secretive. The basic principle is campaign contributions can only come from individuals (humans only) who are in the immediate jurisdiction of the candidate. …The political parties can match the funds raised by the candidate, but not more. I know this idea is too big, but if it is a good idea it might start on your blog. We have to get the money out of politics.
Thank you again for giving us this opportunity to express ourselves. It has been a lot of fun.
©2013 Bill Borel and John Borel