Authors: James Patterson,Peter de Jonge
Tags: #0 General Fiction
|Tags:||0 General Fiction|
And with his wife, children, and a live television audience watching, a miracle takesplace on the 17th green that will change Travis, and his family, forever.
The Thomas Berryman Number
The Jericho Commandment
The Midnight Club
Along Came a Spider
Kiss the Girls
Hide & Seek
Jack and Jill
Miracle on the 17th Green
(with Peter de Jonge)
Copyright © 1996 by James Patterson
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
First eBook Edition: May 1999
For Matthew and Joseph.
For the good folks of Toms River and Sleepy Hollow.
A Little Noise from Winnetka
It was Christmas morning and a balmy 38 degrees. In other words, a perfect day for golf, and there I stood on the semifrozen mud of the 17th tee at the Creekview Country Club in Winnetka, Illinois.
My marriage was disintegrating. My three kids, whom I love more than life itself, didn’t know what to make of me lately, and I had a terrible feeling that come January, I was going to be fired from my job at Leo Burnett. Who knows, if everything went as badly as it possibly could, there was a chance I might be one of the homeless after that.
Ho! Ho! Ho!
I bent down, teed up an old scuffed Titleist, and squinted through the wind at the long tight par 5, lined on both sides by towering black leafless elms.
Now what follows is one of those mystical, largely unexplainable,
out-of-body experiences, so please bear with me. Or as Vin Scully used to say at the start of his golf telecasts, pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable. I admit that in sheer unlikelihood, this probably ranks right up there with Truman upsetting Dewey,
It’s a Wonderful Life
, and John Daly winning the British Open.
What can I say? Stuff happens to people. Tragedies befall saints. Fortune smiles on cretins. Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. And this happened to me.
Since it is such a crucial number in this story, I should point out that I was starting my round on 17. Despite the unseasonable thaw, it
Christmas, the course was empty, and 17 just happened to be the tee closest to where I parked. Anyway, I knocked the cover off my drive.
Nothing unusual about that. I hit the ball farther than the pro here at Creekview. I even hit the ball farther than the current champ, Mark Duffel, who’s twenty.
I trudged down the fairway, nudged my ball away from a sprinkler head, and hit my second shot, a 185-yard, 5-iron, stiff. Suddenly, I was feeling better. To hell with my problems. Golf can have that effect.
Now, here comes the weird part. This is where everything gets a little spooky, and I took my first step on this road — either to salvation or damnation.
I stroked that putt so clean and solid.
I put such a pure sweet roll on it, the ball traveled over the grass like a bead of mercury rolls across the floor after you break a thermometer.
The beginning of a miracle. A harbinger. A sign.
The little white ball dropped into the little white cup for eagle.
I was hooked.
I was elated.
I was doomed.
I must tell you right now however, that this isn’t the so-called Miracle on 17. Not even close.
I hurried to the next tee.
I know what you’re thinking. What’s the big deal about a nine-foot putt in a practice round on a deserted golf course in the dead of winter, with the only witness a skinny red squirrel who had hopped onto the green in search of an acorn or two?
Let me give you a little quick background.
Except for tap-ins and your basic no-account three- or four-footers, I don’t make putts less than twelve feet. My nickname, borrowed in a most unflattering way from the former world welterweight champion Roberto Duran, is “Hands of Stone.” In spite of that, I’ve been club champ here at the Creekview Country Club in Winnetka five out of the past twelve years.
But it wasn’t just that the putt on 17 went in. Everybody gets lucky sometime.
the putt went in.
It didn’t creep in the side door, or dribble in the front, or start off-line and get corrected by a spike mark. It was dead center from the instant it touched off my blade until it rammed home with all the subtlety of a Shaquille O’Neal dunk.
But even more important was the
I had as I stood over the putt.
I knew it was going in
Knew it in my hands, shoulders, legs, and bones.
Knew it with a degree of certainty that was almost spooky.
It was like something that had already happened, and all I had to do was patiently wait for the present to catch up.
For the first time in forty years, I could actually
see the line
. My nickname notwithstanding, my putting problem was never really my touch. It was in my eyes, or somewhere behind them in the plumbing of my brain. Does it break three inches or two? Does it break at the beginning or the end? Your guess was as good as mine.
But that morning as I stood with my eyes directly over the Titleist logo, my putting dyslexia was cured. It was as if someone from the Winnetka Highway Department had painted a dotted white line between my ball and the hole. Or better yet, had laid a small stretch of track about the size of my younger son, Noah’s, train set, and all I had to do was get the ball started right and then watch it roll as if it were on rails into the center of the cup.
But, as I said before, this isn’t the miracle I’m trying to tell you about.
Like a middle-aged man who suddenly discovers Santa Claus is real after all, I raced to the next hole. I thumbed a tee into the cold dirt and smacked another solid drive out over the deserted course.
For the next few hours, I raced around the blighted landscape in a birdie-feeding frenzy.
After rolling in a fifteen-footer on 18, I jogged back over to I and played a full eighteen, then another nine, then nine more. In thirty-eight holes, I one-putted twenty-nine greens, had twenty birdies, and in four nines didn’t post a score above 33. Time seemed to stand still.
During one unconscious stretch, where I birdied four holes in a row, my heart started beating so fast I had to lean against a tree and make myself take a few slow breaths.
I was afraid I was going to keel over and buy the farm right then,
cut down — as it were — in my prime. And I don’t know what would have annoyed me more — dying, or dying before I had a chance to tell anybody about these scores.
But my reverie was suddenly broken.
Standing on the 16th green for the third time that day, I happened to look out over the evergreens beside the fairway. There, wafting above the treeline, tethered to a nearby house, was a helium-filled Santa balloon.