Basically, the scenario goes like this. If I say or do something, I ask, will others react negatively? If the answer is likely yes, then I’d better ask myself if their reactions are going to cause more stress or work for me. And then, if the answer is yes again, I’d probably better take responsibility and act accordingly with my initial action.
That way I control the situation. That might make me a bit of a control freak or a micro-manager, but I can live with that. Either way, the world would be a better place if more people thought before they talked.
I was covering the boys Division I North Golf Championships at the Resort at Red Hawk earlier this month when one of those aforementioned kind of moments took place. A guy talked before he thought. Or then again, maybe he was just acting like a numbskull who doesn’t understand you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.
Play at the first day of the regional golf tournament was suspended with most competitors having completed about two-thirds of their round. Heavy rains and a few flashes of lightning forced golfers to head back to the clubhouse to stay dry and avoid unsafe conditions with the electricity in the air, pun intended.
I went to the clubhouse during the suspension of play to stay informed on the plan of attack. As I pulled up, there was a Sparks PD police car with a stern-looking officer talking to a group and looking bit annoyed.
I remember thinking, ‘that can’t be good.’ As it turns out, I was right.
Just before play was suspended, a golfer was crossing Wingfield Parkway between the third and fourth holes. This particular golfer was crossing with a group and was a step or two outside the white lines of the crosswalk. A driver, with nothing better to do, noticed the golfer straying a bit wide of the pack. The driver rolled down his window and yelled at the kid, something to the effect of ‘get in the crosswalk.’ There may have been a little more to it, but that was the message.
Apparently, the golfer proceeded to tell the driver he was No. 1, without using any words, just one finger. It probably wasn’t the most appropriate reaction, but probably somewhat predictable given the driver chose to make a pretty big deal out of a mild case of jaywalking.
Then, the driver really over-reacted. He drove right over to the clubhouse, stormed into the office of Red Hawk PGA pro Chad Pettingill and demanded the exuberant golfer with a quick trick finger be removed from the tournament immediately.
Pettingill is a good guy with a good sense of humor. I’m sure part of him wanted to laugh. He told the driver he was not going to remove the golfer from the tournament. Why would he? Even if he thought that was a fair punishment, he wouldn’t just suggest to tourney officials the golfer should be disqualified based on one guy’s rant, not without corroboration.
Pettingill told the driver that he was overreacting and the kid would not be DQ’d. Apparently, the driver didn’t like that answer. So he then made a bigger deal out of the situation and called Sparks police. Hence the SPD officer was forced to leave whatever he was doing, probably something much more productive and important, and cruise out to Red Hawk to interview the teen golfer and the driver with, presumably, a large stick up his backside.
Luckily, the driver didn’t approach me making demands. I probably would’ve laughed at him. He’s lucky the teen golfer only signified the proverbial bird sign and not told the driver what he really thought or where he really thought he should go. At 16 or 17 I might have.
Ultimately, the kid finished his round of golf, although I wonder how his nerves, and score, were affected the rest of the day. He was not punished, nor should he have been. He was probably scolded a bit by the police officer and asked to have a better response in the future.
But I wonder if the officer scolded the driver a bit. I heard this story recounted to me by several people from Pettingill on down to a couple golf coaches. Each time I wondered what kind of pristine life that driver led that he felt he needed to overreact the way he did.
Had he just said whatever to himself, after the golfer ranked him No. 1, drove home, kicked up his feet and enjoyed his favorite beverage, his evening would have been a lot less stressful. Shoot, had the driver not even said anything about the kid walking a little wide of the white lines and let that roll off his back, it would have been better for all involved.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that driver carries an ulcer or two around. If he gets that fired up about a kid walking astray of the crosswalk and flipping him off, how does the guy respond when he faces real adversity in his life?
Let me be clear. The high school golfer should not have flipped the driver off, but his is not the biggest sin of the whole tirade. Sparks’ finest have much bigger fish to fry than teenagers sharing their appreciation with hand gestures. The driver probably should’ve realized that long before he called the police.
After 16-plus years, I was beginning to think I’d just about seen it all around northern Nevada’s high school sports scene. But that was a new one. I can’t wait for what’s next.
Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s managing editor. He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org