The story of Golfer Al is one that I remember from my early childhood. Every summer, I would attend a day camp at a country club a few towns over in Connecticut. While we typically would only engage in day activities, the first weekend of August brought with it the annual “camp-out”. For one night, all of the campers and counselors would pitch tents on the golf course, and enjoy the next best thing to true camping. Although it was 10 years ago, I remember very clearly the camp director bringing all of us together in front of a fire, poised to tell his classic scary story. While I heard the same story again and again, each time it made me quiver just as hard as the previous year.
Unfortunately, I was not able to simply regurgitate what I knew from memory for this assignment. Instead, I made a hopeful call to Round Hill Club to see if Jeff was still the summer camp director. My request was met with disappointment. I was told that several years ago Jeff retired, but now Chris Mason ran the camp. It was a long shot, but I had to at least ask him he had heard of Golfer Al. Immediately Chris cracked up and shouted, “You remember that s@#t? Aren’t you in college?” I told him that yes, I remembered the story and that I would appreciate him telling it from his perspective. I copied what he told below, and to my elation it almost exactly matched what I remember as an 11 year-old kid.
“Many years ago, on a cold, rainy day, a man decided to play a round of golf. This man was Golfer Al. Golfer Al was a brave man, not afraid of the rain or cold, and always up for a challenge. So, out went Golfer Al for his last, final round.
He said goodbye to his wife who was enjoying lunch at the snack bar. She was not suspecting of anything bad to happen. Al had played in bad conditions hundreds of times, what could go wrong?
So with that Golfer Al was off, headed to the first tee. He placed his shiny white ball on a perfectly aligned tee. After taking a step back to gauge the fairway’s length and width, he positioned himself next to his ball. With a slow backswing, Golfer Al eyed the ball like a dog eyes your steak. He accelerated through the ball, striking it perfectly. It flew for as far as Al could make out in the rain. He then set off after it.
This was the last that was seen of Golfer Al. When he did not return after 3 hours his wife assumed he was just having a bad round. After 5 hours she began to worry. When 8 hours passed she decided to call for help.
The course patrol set out in carts with a megaphone shouting “Al! Al!” But it was to no avail. The police arrived first thing in the morning, and searched for the next three days, but found no one. Golfer Al had vanished. Several years passed. With time, everyone forgot about Al, and moved on with their lives.
But then things changed. Members of the club began noticing missing golf clubs from their bags. As dusk approached, gold carts began to stall and even stop working. Something about the club just hasn’t right, but no one can put their finger on it.
Some say that Golfer Al is still out there. They say he is waiting for someone to wander out on the course alone at night, because when they do, they’re not coming back.”
Chris concluded his version of the story there, pretty much just where I remembered it ending. After some reflection, it has occurred to me that there may have been more to this story’s purpose than simply temporarily scaring a big group of children. Perhaps it was in fact originally intended to serve as a right of passage in the club’s culture. Chris had been indoctrinated in the story’s main points as a junior counselor. Now, as the director of the camp, he is responsible for continuing the story of Golfer Al with the Round Hill Club community for years to come.