Fore!

It was Friday, late morning, and George Blaumquist cast a woeful eye across his computer screen, watching the sag of his favorite stocks. It had been this way for weeks bids in free fall, phones in mock readiness, the glory days, now a wistful memory. George needed an escape an escape from bear market bondage. Mr. Blaumquist, it's Mr. Iversen on line two. Thanks, Margaret. Hey, big guy! George, whadya

It was Friday, late morning, and George Blaumquist cast a woeful eye across his computer screen, watching the sag of his favorite stocks. It had been this way for weeks — bids in free fall, phones in mock readiness, the glory days, now a wistful memory. George needed an escape … an escape from bear market bondage.

“Mr. Blaumquist, it's Mr. Iversen on line two.”

“Thanks, Margaret.”

“Hey, big guy!”

“George, whadya doin' this afternoon?”

“I dunno. Thought maybe I'd paint a target on myself and call a few clients.”

“No good. I gotta better deal!”

“What could be better than telling a client they had a garage sale today for the stock I bought him last week at 50? If I throw in an antique love seat, we might get 20 for it today.”

“Who'd want an antique love seat?”

“Somebody who wants to sit down after they cut the dividend on the stock!”

“Look, Blaumquist, you gotta take a break from this! You gotta get out of the office and …”

“And what?”

“… and play golf with us!”

“Golf?”

“Yeah, golf. You know. Little white ball. Green grass. Blue skies. Buddies.”

“I hit a little white ball once that detoured through some guy's windshield.”

“That was a fluke, Blaumquist! I bet it never happened again!”

“You're right. It didn't. I quit playing. I'm a one windshield guy.”

“Look, George, Harry Ames of Jupiter Fund wants to sponsor four of us on the links today! How does that sound?”

“Sounds like he doesn't care about his windshield.”

“Ames is not playing. He had to take his kid to the dentist at the last moment.”

“OK, I'm in. What's the tee time?”

“In two hours! Meet you at the muni course.”

“Hey, wait a minute! I don't have any of my stuff.”

“No problem. Just rent whatever you need at the club. Harry's paying.”

The Ultimate Diversion

George's spirits managed a modest uptick. He was 10 minutes early for his odyssey with the white ball.

“George! You made it!”

“Barely. The guy in the pro shop had all the rental clubs out, so he had to outfit me with this new set of Pings. Think that Ames guy will mind?”

“No way! Just put that little white ball down on that tee and give 'er a ride!”

“Where's the hole?”

“Dogleg to the left, Blaumquist! Just aim for that tree over there.”

“OK, here goes.” (Whack!)

“George?”

“Yeah?”

“Did you hear me? I said dogleg to the left! You sliced into Rhode Island somewhere.”

“Yeah, but it sounded good don't ya think?”

“I'll let you know when we start keeping score by sound.”

The Ultimate in Self-Torture

The afternoon warmed the backs of the players as they made the turn for the ninth hole. Blaumquist began to feel the first pangs of fatigue.

“Hey, Tom, can you see my ball ahead?”

“I think you're in the trap on the right, George.”

“Again?”

“I think you've been on the beach at every hole so far.”

“Loan me your sand wedge.”

“Where's yours?”

“I think I left it back on the seventh hole. Or maybe the eighth.”

“You've already lost a brand-new Ping sand wedge, Blaumquist?”

“Someone will turn it in, don't ya think?”

“Someone may not already own a new Ping sand wedge, George!”

“How about a 5-iron? Or have you lost your 5-iron, too?”

“I wasn't having much luck with it so I laid it down as we approached the fourth hole and tried my 4-iron.”

“At this rate, Blaumquist, whoever is following us will finish 18 holes with a new set of Pings, courtesy of Jupiter Fund!”

“Maybe I'm playing with too many clubs.”

The Ultimate Finish

George addressed the 18th hole. It was a 150-yard par 3 into the setting sun, requiring an easy 5-iron down the middle over a nasty water hazard.

“Whadya think, Tom?” George inquired as he looked blankly at his diminishing supply of clubs in the back of the golf cart.

“I'd use a 5 here.”

“I lost my 5.”

“Oh, yeah. I forgot. What have you got left?”

“I gotta 4.”

“Too much club. Try your 7.”

“What about the water?”

“What about it?”

“Will my 7 carry it?”

“I dunno. Lay up, why don't ya?”

“That's kind of a wussy thing to do, isn't it?”

“I won't tell anybody.”

“OK, here goes. Mr. 7!” (Whaacckk!)

“Nice arc, George.”

“Hmmm.”

“Maybe a little … (splash!) … short.”

“Tom, that was a $3.50 ball!”

“I won't tell Harry. Hit another one. This time give it some juice.”

“You're the doctor.” (Whaaaccckkk!)

“Nice arc. Maybe a little … (splash!) … short.”

“Tom, maybe my 7 is not the club here!”

“Look, George, I told you to give it some juice.”

“I did, but a wind came up.”

“I didn't feel anything.”

“Well, I'm into the water with $7 worth of balls, and furthermore, I'm lying 4 and not even off the tee yet!”

“So what do ya wanna do? Apply for disability?”

“I'm using my 5-wood.”

“It's up to you, George, but I think it's way too much club.”

“I'm thinking wind, here, Iversen. So here goes! (Whaaaacccckkkk!)

“Wow. You really got a hold of that one!”

“It felt good!”

“You're gonna clear the water, Blaumquist. But omigosh! (Crash!) FORE!”

“Don't tell me.”

“Well, you carried the water, but you also carried the patio.”

“What was that noise?”

“There's a Budweiser sign hazard on the side of the bar.”

“Did I break it?”

“Hard to tell. It's lying on the ground.”

“How come you yelled, fore?”

“I should have yelled, Budweiser?”

“So how much are Budweiser signs, Tom?”

“I dunno, but if you're gonna run a total, don't forget a dozen or so balls at $3.50 per, a new Ping sand wedge, a new Ping 5-iron and what else?”

“I don't imagine I'll be able to return these golf shoes I borrowed.”

“… a pair of golf shoes and a Budweiser sign!”

“You know, Tom, if we played another round of 18, I know I'd do better. I'm sure I wouldn't make the same mistakes twice.”

“I'm sure you're right, George. After all, you've got fewer clubs to make mistakes with …”

“… and fewer balls to lose.”

“… and you've already killed the Budweiser sign.”

“Whadya think, Tom, should we do another 18?”

“Well, George, in stock parlance, don't you feel that this is a little like averaging down on a stock that's fallen out of bed?”

“Maybe.”

“Has that ever worked for you?”

“So I'll meet you in the bar?”

“Nice out.”


Bill Roth is a rep with Salomon Smith Barney in Palo Alto, Calif.

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