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Confessions of a weary pro shop assistant part III

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Anyone mad enough to believe that pro shop assistants get lonely in winter hasn’t worked in a golf shop. I thought Frank would never leave. I had to top-up his membership card with my own money so he’d fork out for a drink at the bar.

“I could’ve sworn I’d spent it all,” he insisted.

“Must’ve been a prize for breaking 110 on Tuesday, Frank.”

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It was worth it though – I’d entered the buffer zone – the couple of hours where those on the tee-sheet are already playing and the rest of the day is dead.

Take the phone off the hook. Take a seat in the shoe section and turn on the television hoping for an early kick-off.

Getting paid to watch… ‘Liverpool – United – lovely’.

The match was barely two minutes in when the shop door creaked and footsteps followed. I didn’t turn around – I didn’t have to. A dusty finger was presented before my snout.

“Did you bring me a gift from home, Sharon?”

She didn’t find that funny. Instead she pointed to a trail in the timber from the Galvin Green section to the shoe rack where her skeletal gangrene paint-chipped thumb had pierced through the dust like Moses parting the Red Sea.

“Your point?” I said, glued to the screen.

“This isn’t acceptable. The oxygen levels in here are worse than downtown Hong Kong and you’re sitting on your arse watching football!”

She was hyper now. I tried to tell her that this didn’t happen overnight. “I mean, I know Frank’s old but he’s not dusty.” But she didn’t get it.

I considered removing the stencil of encrusted mud from the bin that proved she didn’t bother hoovering the night before either. But I’m bigger than that, I think, realising I’ve put the muck in the recycle bin and she’s a stickler for the environment.

I hate working with Sharon. She’s worked behind the desk for 20 years and still doesn’t know the difference between a birdie and a par. She heard a member going on about an eagle on the course one day and she started up a conversation about falconry. Apparently she was at a wedding at Adare Manor one time – questionable – and there was an exhibition of falconry. If true, it’s definitely the closest she’s ever ventured to a golf course in her life, including this one.

“You must’ve had a busy morning then,” she said facetiously.

Little did she realise the pandemonium involved in restarting a tee-sheet after a frost delay. Grown men in accomplished careers who’ve negotiated just enough time on a Saturday to squeeze in a few holes being told to hold fire on the one activity that had got them through the week.

“Could you not just let them all play at the same time,” she pipes up triumphantly. “Or start them in order of urgency?”

Christ. Could you not just go home and let me enjoy the match?

She starts to talk to herself now; audibly running through a checklist of what she has on for the day when we both know, in reality, she’s going to hop on Flight Centre for the 400th time this week to ponder the latest package deals to Santa Ponsa.

“Kit Kats… yes, I need to count the Kit Kats,” she says. “Oh, and I need to follow-up with that society, what is it that their name was again? And the new order of Lyle and Scott… I must welcome them to the shop and spend four hours figuring out how best to curate that entire arrangement.”

I’d checked that morning. They’d sent in four polos.

As she paced the floor searching for her marbles, I spotted Frank’s unmistakable head peering through the pro shop door. You know times are bad when you’re willing him in to recite his memoirs, but as desperate and all as Frank normally is for conversation, even he wasn’t that desperate. Spotting Sharon, he performed a swift 180 and made a beeline for the carpark.

I almost wish he had taken me with him.

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