archives # 11 Scoop Goes Golfing!

 

 

PLAYING GOLF FOR BIG STAKES…Medium-Rare with Lobster On The Side!

Or: 'Scoop Jackson Faces Defeat But Has A Brilliant Idea.'

It's near the end of the camping season for most of us, and I was ready to write my end-of-the-season column, a bunch of non-related thoughts and opinions. Yes, I know most of you are saying: "But Scoop, isn't that what most of your columns are anyway?" And so, I was desperately searching for a theme.

I decided to mention my favorite restaurants and bars and golf courses, sort of give them a plug. I did this several years ago, and was favorably rewarded with many cocktails and beers from various owners of these fine establishments. Was this wrong? Was I violating a reporter's code of ethics? Did I care?

But I was racked with remorse. There are so many great places in this area that I could mention, and I had a deadline. I couldn't possibly do everything and drink free drinks everywhere in the limited time available. Well, I could, but I would lose most of my remaining brain cells and this column would be virtually unreadable to anyone, unless you too were drinking a lot of beer, in which case you would find every word made perfect sense. ("But Scoop," many of you are saying, "what would make this column so different from the others?").

And then Inspiration struck like a wet, sloppy gulp of a dry martini. I was dining at Luke's Supper Club in Milton, enjoying a fine New York Strip with Mrs. Scoop, when our waitress told me that I was wanted in the kitchen. I hadn't had to wash dishes to pay off a tab in more than 20 years, so I was curious. Kevin Lukas ("Luke") works too hard, and I had tried to get him to take a day off to golf, to no avail, but 2nd Chef Ryan Peterson was cooking that night, so I had no clue. I entered the kitchen and was greeted with a sharp knife pointed at my nose. Here is the conversation:

Ryan: "If I ever hear you shouting out the answers to 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' at the bar again, I'll cook your liver with fava beans and serve it as an appetizer!"

Scoop: "That line's taken. You'll have to use a different body part."

I'm just kidding. This is the real conversation:

Ryan: "I know you're trying to get Kevin to golf. Let me tell you something: He hasn't golfed in four years, he won't take a day off to golf, so you're not going to get him to golf. I, however, do golf, and I have a proposition for you…

"You and I will golf. You pick the time and the course. If you win, I'll buy you and Mrs. Scoop any meal you want plus all your drinks. If I win, however, you have to mention this restaurant in your next column. Say what you want, good or bad, but you mention it."

Scoop: "Duh…OK!"

It's a no-brainer, Folks! I can't lose. Also, the other fine dining establishments can't be upset with me for being selective…this was a direct challenge! I am going to call Ryan tomorrow to set a date. We have some preliminary details to work out…Ryan likes Towne Country Club in Edgerton, and I like Oak Ridge in Milton. They are both fine courses. We'll have to flip a coin. If I lose on the flip, we'll go two-out-of-three, because I'm still naming Oak Ridge as the course. Mr. Pat Meeker, a fine and handsome gentleman, will certainly buy me some beers for mentioning his golf course.

I also had to remind Ryan of my Rules of Golf:

#1) We don't walk--we drive carts.

#2) We drink.

#3) We gamble.

Then I asked around about Ryan's golf skills. These kids nowadays take up golf in High School instead of doing sit-ups in Gym class (Excuse me--'Phys. Ed.'). That's not fair. I didn't start golfing until about eight years ago. Ryan is perhaps 23, whereas I remember seeing Moe Howard visit Andy Clyde on the 3 Stooges Show on Channel 9 back when Bob Bell was a very young Bozo. (If you understand what I mean, you know my age, more or less. If you don't, you took golf in High School. Can't do a lot of sit-ups, can you?).

So I want a 15-stroke handicap. We'll see. No matter what, it's not going to be easy for this young upstart. I've been practicing. Since I can't golf every day, here is my training schedule off-the-course, which you may want to follow:

#1) I walk as little as possible.

#2) I drink whenever possible.

#3) I play poker in the clubhouse.

Also, I want my equipment in tip-top shape. As a good-luck thing, I've asked Mrs. Scoop to clean my balls. I don't know if this part of the training program is going to work out. But I was ready for the challenge…

And then tragedy struck! What began as a minor household chore turned into a two-week nightmare. I was too busy to golf or even train and days slipped past. Feverishly finishing my work, I tried to reach Ryan in time for this newspaper's deadline. We played phone-tag, each leaving messages. Only two days remained before this column was due…would we golf in time for a story?

That is when I had my brilliant idea. If other writers can do it, so can I. So to find out the thrilling conclusion to this tale, send $1 to my new web-site: www.scoopjackson.net. If 75% of my readers send me a dollar, I will finish the story.

OK, maybe that idea won't work, for at least two reasons I can think of right now:

1) Judging by the response to my last contest, which was zero, my total take on this scheme would be about $2.75.

2) I don't have a web-site yet.

But I will, as soon as I figure out how to do it. The name is already registered, so that's a start. Try looking me up in about two months. Really.

………………………………………………………

One Week Later:

Mr. and Mrs. Scoop sat at the long, shiny bar at Luke's Supper Club in Milton, enjoying a delicious Brandy Old Fashioned. The olives were particularly good. 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' was on the TV up high in the corner.

"'Pee-Wee Herman'," said Scoop, beating the contestant. The people at the bar cheered Scoop for his wisdom. A nice considerate waitress came to take orders. In a short while she carried the Scoops' drinks to their table. Joyful diners at other tables were busy with the nightly Prime Rib Special or racks of succulent ribs.

Scoop ordered a NY Strip, medium, with a side order of jumbo shrimp. Mrs. Scoop had her favorite, deep-fried walleye, and she soaked each delicate piece in melted butter.

"Ah!" said Mrs. Scoop.

"'Rasputin'," said Scoop, beating the contestant again. He finished his tasty steak and ordered an Amber Bock from the bar.

"Will there be anything else?" asked the attentive waitress. "Something for dessert?"

"Yes," said Scoop. "A large lobster tail, please!" He leaned back from the table and smiled. "Another fine meal in this fine supper club," he said to Mrs. Scoop.

Meanwhile in the kitchen, 2nd Chef Ryan was busy washing dishes. An angry Kevin Lukas stood over him, arms crossed. "Don't worry," said Ryan. "They can't possibly eat anything else!"

"Just keep scrubbing," Kevin said.

…………………………………………………………………………

All's well that ends well. By the time this column went to print, Ryan and I had not yet golfed. But the story above will come true.

Ryan, you said I could name the tee-time. I did. By the time you read this, it will be too late. Check your answering machine. I was at Oak Ridge last night at 6:30PM. I know it was raining and I know you had to cook, but strict rules of golf are in play here.

You forfeit. You lose.

I'll see you at Luke's in a day or so. I'll have the 'Scoop Special' for starters..

……………………………………………………………………………

Goodbye, everyone! Have a great winter, and see you in the spring. Ryan and I will golf before then. If you want to find out the result, try my web-site in a couple of months…really.

Send a dollar if you want. I'll probably need it to pay for my next dinner.

_______________________________________________________________

Luke's Supper Club, 118 Merchant Row, Milton--868-2022. Thank You, Ryan!

And I'm not kidding about the web-site…check it out in about 2 months for other great restaurants and golf courses and saloons, plus a ghost story and a few columns from the past. By the way, Ryan, I will kick your butt on the course…

and now, the Conclusion...sort of:

THE GOLF CHALLENGE DEATH MATCH!

(a new Scoop Web-Exclusive)

During the Fall of 2000 I was issued a challenge by 2nd Chef Ryan Peterson of Luke's Supper Club in Milton, WI. The game would be golf, and the stakes were…well, they were steaks. If I won, Mrs. Scoop and I could eat and drink all we wanted in one evening, compliments of Chef Ryan. If I lost, I was to mention Luke's Supper Club in one of my columns.

Since I was going to do this anyway, as sort of a year-end plug for my favorite places to eat and drink, etc., I couldn't lose. With no time remaining to have a golf game before the newspaper deadline, I went ahead and favorably mentioned Luke's and the golf challenge in my final column of 2000. And there it was left…until now.

3 weeks later, Ryan and I were able to juggle our respective schedules and finally play golf. But first, I need to discuss what I consider to be a serious infraction of the rules.

One week prior, at Luke's, in front of the crowded bar, Ryan was distinctly overheard giving me a 15-stroke handicap. This was later confirmed by Cheryl, the beautiful and capable manager of Luke's. Now, you may question why I insisted on so many strokes, or why they were necessary. This can be explained in 4 words: I stink at golf. Also, I am "middle-aged", whereas Ryan is a mere puppy of 23, full of vim and vigor.

The infraction occurred at Oak Ridge Golf Course, prior to play. I had a plan of intimidation all set up, in which Ryan would be forced to golf with myself, "Big Frank" Comisso, who looks like a hitman, but probably isn't (he's not--Scoop), and Jimmy Barnes, retired Chicago Fireman and Irishman extraordinaire. Between Frank's intentional ominous stare and Jimmy's beer, Kid Ryan wouldn't even be able to tee up the ball after a hole or two.

Alas, there was some confusion, and Frank and Jimmy went on without us. That's a shame…I could have used those guys. Instead, it would be just Ryan and I. And then Ryan started his own intimidation, starting with the infraction.

"OK, you get 10 strokes," he stated. "But that's for 18 holes."

"I only golf 9 at a time," I said. This is a fact.

"Then you get 5 strokes for this nine. Then we'll golf at Edgerton Towne and Country, and you get another 5. If I need a third game, you'll get the final 5 strokes. That's what we always said."

That was an out-and-out fabrication, but I had no witnesses there to challenge him with. And this had been discussed at the bar. Wondering if I had been a bit fuzzier than I recalled, I agreed. Now I was down to 5 strokes, and he looked pretty confident. After all, I figured, why would he have made the challenge in the first place if not expecting success?

Then he upped the intimidation a notch. We were both driving pickup trucks. Our bags were in the backs. I started walking up the path to the clubhouse, intending to return with the cart to get our clubs. Ryan looked about carefully. "Shouldn't we take our clubs with us?" he asked.

I thought he was joking. I play with the same clubs I bought as a starter set 8 years ago. The entire set cost me $50, and that included the bag and a handful of tees. (I've since added another driver that I got as a birthday present, but the damn thing doesn't work. It only hooks and slices. You can have it for $10. It's in the water hazard on Hole #4).

But Ryan seemed serious. "I've got almost $4,500 worth of clubs there."

It's a good thing I wasn't drinking a beer right then, because I would have spit it out all over myself. Actually, I probably should have had a beer. This guy was making me nervous.

And now, without further ado, here's the Play-By-Play:

1st Hole, 476 yards, par 5--Ryan hits a nice long drive. Scoop slices into the other fairway. But Scoop digs himself out and is even with Ryan as they approach the green. Both players are still working out the First-Hole Jitters. With some lucky putting, Scoop loses the hole by only 1 stroke.

2nd Hole, 155 yards, par 3--Ryan slices, Scoop hooks. I think Ryan went into the sand trap. I went into the woods, but hit a big branch and bounced out. I win the hole by 1, and we are even.

3rd Hole, 367 yards, par 4--Here, I astonish myself and do a wise thing. Ryan has asked a few times about the rules, and accepted my answers about tournament play without question. Thinking ahead, I tell him that another rule is that no player can score worse than a 9 on any hole. "OK," says Ryan.

I get a "9". But Ryan loses a ball in the woods and takes a 7.

At this point, I need to add a few things. One, we were obviously not playing the best game either of us has had. I think we were both still nervous. There wasn't much joking around, as is usually the case when I golf (and usually about my game, as a matter of fact). Ryan was definitely the better golfer on an even playing field, but being Oak Ridge, we didn't have an even field. I mean that in a good way, Mr. Pat Meeker, owner.

On the other hand, I was regretting those extra martinis the night before, because what was supposed to be a high of 65 became 80 and sunny. I was parched, and I had violated one of my strictest rules: I always drink on the course. Thinking it might help for a change, I had declined Ryan's suggestion of getting some refreshments before starting. I was a fool.

Finally, after the game was over, I told Ryan I would publish the outcome of the game. "Fine," he said, "but for God's sake please don't tell the scores!"

So I won't…for now. Now, back to the Game:

4th Hole, 175 yards, par 3--I see Frank and Jimmy on the next fairway and call them over. Jimmy gives me a beer. I feel invigorated, and beat Ryan by 2 strokes. For the rest of the game, Jimmy calls Ryan "Brian" or some such variation. This was not planned--that's just Jimmy. Frank starts singing Italian songs, which Ryan apparently interprets as being from the "Mob Hits" or "Sopranos" CDs--in other words, dangerous songs. Also, as an added distraction, here is a typical example of Jimmy Barnes after hitting the ball:

Drive: "!*@#??*!"

2nd Drive: "!@#@%^!"

Putt: "!@##@!!"

5th through 8th Holes--Ryan gets the only Par, on #7, but he also got a "9" on #6--Boo-hoo. At the end of the 8th Hole, I am only down by 3!

9th Hole, 409 yards, par 4--This hole ends near the Clubhouse, and I was thinking of beer when I was forced to take my 'mulligan' and drive again. The next drive was no better. My chip-shots were junk and my putting game went to hell. When it was all over, and I added in my measly 5-handicap….

We had tied.

 

Now we must play at least two more games, probably three, to determine a winner. Since the temperature is steadily dropping and leaves are falling, I'm not sure we can finish this year. But I will keep you informed, and I promise you one thing…

There will be beer on the course.

 

UPDATE 9/28/00: Mrs. Scoop and I and friends dined at Luke's last night. Ryan was cooking. He had golfed yesterday in Johnstown Center. He readily admitted he lost nine balls at one water-hole. Either he doesn't know he can take a penalty stroke and drop a ball, or he's using psychological warfare on me.

UPDATE 11/15/00: This will probably be the final Update until Spring. We haven't golfed again, and 1-4" of snow is expected tonight. So I am sorry to say that you golfing fans will have to wait...

UPDATE 12/01/00: Ryan challenged me to Virtual-Reality golf in lieu of a real course. More psychological warfare, no doubt! Sorry, Ryan, but I'll wait for the real thing. See you in the Spring!

UPDATE 11/01/01: OK, it's been nearly a year, and once again, nothing happened! I didn't golf much, but Ryan and I did set a date for a game, but he got sick (probably out of fear) and didn't make it. In all fairness, he did offer to give me a forfeit, but I turned the offer down...I win or lose on the battlefield!

    What am I, an idiot?! Don't answer that! Anyway, you'll just have to wait until next year.

    Thank you for your patience, Kris. 

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Scoop Rambles On...an ongoing conversation...
SCOOP RAMBLES ON…

I don’t like personal web sites that people create solely for the purpose of telling what they did at Uncle Nick’s birthday party, or why they love seashells. Or, especially: Hey, look at me! That’s why the ‘Scoop’ picture on my home page is purposely small and vague. But that is a tuxedo I’m wearing…

Anyway, I had no new ‘Scoop’ tales to tell at the moment, but I was in the mood to type. I was reminiscing, sort of daydreaming, and wanted to write this stuff down. They were personal fond memories. So I decided to do it here. You won’t find any laughs or giggles, so feel free to leave at any time. I just felt like talking…

Daniel P. Mannix III

I always liked to read. I had books, but never enough. By age 10 I was constantly riding my bike to Walgreen’s, a long jaunt. It had rows of paperbacks, and I always had enough money to buy one…just one. Later, at the ripe age of 12, I would take the Archer Avenue bus in Chicago down to the Loop, and walk the rest of the way to the hidden bookstores that had old MAD and pulp fiction magazines. But it was at a return trip to Walgreen’s that I found the most fascinating book I have ever read.

The title was: ‘Memoirs Of A Sword-Swallower’, by Dan Mannix. It had a cover like a circus poster, with a color drawing of a guy swallowing a sword, banners streaming behind him. I went home and read it in one night, and read it again 20 times. Dan Mannix told of joining a carnival passing through, and learning how to swallow swords and eat fire. There was also the Fat Lady, The Human Ostrich (who could eat and swallow anything, including live rats), a mentalist, and the ‘Hindu’ fakir who could pound nails into his eyeballs. Yes, this was good stuff.

Alas, I lost the book in a move. But I would always talk about it to Mrs. Scoop, telling her how great it was. At one point, she told me there was no way these carnival tales were true, and no way could a man swallow a sword. So I was on a mission that would take years…

I searched used-bookstores, visited yard sales and wrote letters to dealers. No luck. The book I remembered had vanished off the face of the earth.

Then, about 15 years ago, Mrs. Scoop, always thinking of me, came home with a paperback entitled ‘The Wolves Of Paris’, by Daniel P. Mannix III. "It’s all I could find," she said. And that’s just one of a million reasons why I love her.

It wasn’t the book I was searching for, but now I had a publisher. I wrote a letter to Daniel P. Mannix III, c/o the publisher, telling him how much I enjoyed his ‘Sword-Swallower’ book, and that I could not find it. I also told him that my wife did not believe that such things he told about were possible.

A year went by. At this time, we were all doing whatever had to be done to keep people happy at the campground I worked at. This particular day had been especially nasty…hot and muggy, dumping trailers with mosquitoes having a feast as you lay prone more worried about getting a face-full of somebody-else’s shit. I came home for lunch feeling about as crapped-out as a man can feel.

I checked the mailbox by instinct. There was a package in there, along with the usual bills. I thought nothing of it—I had been sending manuscripts out all along and getting rejected just as often. I sat down to a sandwich and opened the mail.

It was a first edition hardcover book with the jacket (cover) in great shape. The title was ‘Step Right Up!’ and it showed a cartoonish carnival barker with various performers just behind him. It was written by Dan Mannix. I started to get excited. It got better…

The book was nicely wrapped, and the mailing envelope had the return address of Daniel P. Mannix IV. So it had been sent by the son. I was happy enough with the book, but when I opened the front cover I found a treasure.

Dan the III has had a revival on the Internet lately. I’m going to purchase the paperback copy of the book, which in the new edition has photos, one of which I’m sure is him eating fire. But I have the sword photo, because he pasted it to the inside front cover, along with a photo of the ‘bally’, with all the performers on stage anxious to get that last crowd.

He also wrote a personal note, which makes this book even more precious: (below a photo of Mr. Mannix swallowing a sword) ‘Dan Mannix swallowing a sword. This is the first edition of the book. It was later republished as "Memoirs of a Sword Swallower". It has recently been broadcasted over BBC in England and a musical is being made of it in London.’

The other photo, the bally platform, shows just about every performer I had read about. No Fat Lady, no Human Ostrich, but the main gang was all there. Dan listed each one, and then wrote a note to my wife and I: "…who liked my books, so I like them!"

And he signed directly below.

Daniel Mannix III died in 1997. I found that out on the ‘Net the other day. I had also ordered another book directly from him, ‘FREAKS: Those Who Are Not As Us.’ I sent a check, and I got the book and another personal message: "From one freak to another."

I consider it an honor.

Thank you, Mr. Mannix. I’ll bet right about now you’re ready to give a show. The crowd is anxious, popcorn is being served, Cap’t Billy and Paul are waiting. Jolly Daisy is in her tent, and it’s no more ‘grits and fatbacks’ for you.

This show is going to be heavenly. And eating fire is going to go over really well up there.