To frame properly what Jeff Wallahan did two Fridays ago at Foxtail, we begin with a mistake. In fact, we must begin with a mistake because this is a story about golf. No one begins this sport with golden strokes resulting from golden swings. For a beginner, swinging a golf club feels more like swinging a broom.
“I’d swing the club, then look down the course to see where the ball went,” Wallahan said. “Then I would notice the ball behind me and wonder how it got there.”
That was 14 years ago. That was 14 years ago, when, Wallahan estimated, he needed to play 100 holes before he made his first par. And then he might have needed another 100 for the next par. Wallahan would hit balls into the water and off trees, lose them in distant lands he came to know as the rough and throw clubs because, well, that’s what golf will do to a person.
“But I never threw one more than 10 feet,” said the owner of a Santa Rosa Jeep repair shop, demonstrating uncommon restraint for a beginner.
So now, it’s Friday, May 23, and Jeff Wallahan never saw it coming. He had a challenging day at the repair shop. It’s 2 p.m. His Santa Rosa buddy, Don Juillerat, calls him up. Let’s go to Foxtail and play a round. Wallahan groans. He plays the course at least a couple of times a week but today he’s frazzled, stressed out. And he’s a 20-handicap to boot.
Stressed-out golfers with a 20-handicap tend to be an environmental hazard and should not be placed within 300 yards of another human being.
At 4 p.m., Juillerat and Wallahan tee it up. Wallahan double bogeys the first hole. No worries. He’s shot a 9 before on a hole. The pair arrive at the 118-yard par-3 sixth hole. Wallahan isn’t feeling it but again, no worries. He ain’t going PGA any time soon. He takes an 8-iron and swings. Looks nice.
“It hits the green, takes one bounce and kicks to the right,” said Wallahan, a Reno native and a Sonoma County resident for 35 years.