"Well, hell," Hayward Yost said.
He'd just hit his tee shot into a thicket of rhododendron one hundred yards down the right side of the eighth fairway, it being the sixth time that morning he'd done such, although the flora had varied hole to hole. His golfing opponent and life-long best friend, Soc Ninekiller, laughed softly from his seat in the golf cart.
Hayward and Soc – one of German descent, one Cherokee – had known each other for eighty years going back to their fourth and sixth years, respectively. Hayward's dad Ernst had been a dairyman, as had eventually Hayward. Soc's dad was Ernst's foreman, and when Hayward took over the dairy business, Soc followed in his own dad's traces, too. But as the years advanced, the relationship evolved into more of a partnership. Hayward just didn't see how he could be his older brother's boss. There kinship didn't come from blood, but through a span of life-tempered bonding – boyhoods, schools, sweethearts, work, wars, weddings, births, burials.
Neither had sons, only daughters, none of whom expressed the least bit interest in the dairy business. So when the years overtook their decreasing physical ability to keep up with the demands of the job, Yost sold the farm assets to a corporation and the land to a real estate developer. Hayward became a wealthy man in his seventies after of the deal, and gave his friend Soc a hefty percentage of the proceeds, too. The developer built big houses and a country club with two golf courses on the farm land, and the two old friends bought cul-de-sac homes next to each other which backed up to the thirteenth fairway on the Red Oak Course.
Hayward had taken up golf first, but Soc considered it a silly white man's game and refused to participate. Hayward kept badgering him, though, so just to get him to shut up about it Soc finally relented. He figured he could at least enjoy a golf cart ride in the warm afternoon sun and the drinking of his friend's beer. As it turned out Soc was as naturally good at the game as Hayward was bad. And Hayward was pretty bad, even though he'd spent a considerable amount of time and money getting coached by the club pro. Soc would never make the tour, but he hit the ball consistently straight, middling long for a man in his eighties, and seemed uncanny with his putting. His calm demeanor probably had as much to do with his success at the game as anything; just as Hayward's irascibility did with his failure at it. Soc also liked taking money from his old friend on their golf bets, and relished needling him throughout the rounds.
"You know what your problem is, don't you?" Soc asked.
Hayward jammed his driver into his golf bag and swung onto the cart seat beside Soc. He tried not to look annoyed, knowing his friend's tactic. "I pay Bobby Lawson a considerable sum every week to answer that same question, but I suppose you're going to tell me for free."
Ignoring the sarcasm, Soc answered his own question. "You look up just before you hit the ball."
"That's what Bobby tells me. Maybe I should fire him and hire you. I'm already paying you a damn good commission."
"It's all a matter of focus," Soc continued. "You've got to keep your eye on the ball before you look to see where you think it's going to go. It's like you're expecting results before you address the issue."
"You mean sorta like them idiots we elected to Washington?"
"Exactly." Soc pressed the cart accelerator and they whined off toward that point where Hayward's ball had disappeared into the bush.
"Well, I appreciate you pointing that out. I'll try my damnedest to make the correction."
"What, to your golf swing or your vote on who to send to Washington?"
"Absolutely," Hayward said.