Long before there was a sitcom about a guy named Earl, I was writing about a down-home bumpkin named Earl.
During my college days in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I was on the golf course with a few friends. It was a stacked-up day and there were people out hacking around and having major pileups on each tee pad.
When I say hacking, think to the movie Caddyshack when Spaulding is out whacking the ball around:
That was the issue this day. The three of us who had come out to enjoy a round of golf were held up at the 13th tee (which was a long par 5, so an even bigger backup).
It was soon after this moment, that we met Earl. Just three of us. Me, Mike and Jay. Though the legend of Earl grew (and it was humorous to watch certain people act as if they had actually met Earl, but hadn’t) and with that I made Earl a somewhat fictional character for a weekly column in the school newspaper.
Alas, what I had envisioned for Early — a comedy of errors in some less than perfect situations — was thrown aside after a “Hooters” story by one in the journalism department. So I had to make Earl deal with some more “real” issues to keep him in the paper.
So I did that.
Over the years, I’ve thought about continuing Earl. Maybe a book. Maybe something else. But for now? I want to bring Earl to the blog. And with that, I’m going to put below the original story about Earl (with some edits… I’m more refined as a writer now, you see…), so you can all enjoy Earl and appreciate him for what he is.
Earl will live on here on my blog.
Every once in a while, he’ll make an appearance. With the world transforming as it does, I don’t think I’ll have any issues putting Earl in some kooky situations.
First, when you go on a golf outing, there are several rules to follow. You should always make sure you have a foursome. If you don’t, the odds are the course will stick someone with you or someone will catch up to you and ask to join your group.
That’s how we met Earl.
On a nice fall day, three of us were playing a quick round of golf. Once we caught up to several slow groups, the quick round ceased. Passing wouldn’t matter as there were three or four slow groups.
As we sat on the 13th tee waiting to play, we saw him for the first time. Toting a pull card, we witnessed an interesting golfer.
Actually, he reminded me of Spaulding from Caddyshack.
After many strokes and putts, he finished hole 12 and waddled up to the 13th tee, where we were still waiting.
“Hey, ya mind if I join ya?”
In Earl’s world, there was no need for introductions. After looking him over, I shot a quick answer.
The look he gave made it feel like we just filled his ass with some buckshot.
“I’m just kidding,” I said. “Join right up.”
Those words are ones that I might have ended up regretting, if not for being a writer. But as a writer, anything interesting can always make a story. Brief introductions followed and after we had said who we were, he proclaimed himself as Earl.
A local golf professional, no doubt.
“Just missed that darn birdie on 12,” Earl said as he looked back to the 12th green. “I’m, having one hell of a day.”
Reality was I, too, had just missed a birdie on 12, but in a legitimate way. Earl’s counting skills on the course likely weren’t up to snuff as we had witnessed him hack away at least seven or eight shots.
Still, the odds were we weren’t having anywhere near the day Earl was. To think we only had six holes to get to know the big man.
Before we go further, however, I must tell you a bit about Earl. He wasn’t the brightest of people and he’s not going to grace the cover of GQ anytime soon. He appeared to be in his late 30s and we weren’t sure of his womanizing ways, though he was quick to point out several lady friends that he’s had over the years.
Soon enough, it was time to play on.
As I pulled out my driver — something new to me that past summer — Earl peered at me. This is where the fun began.
“Hey, whatcha hittin’?” asked Earl.
“Big Bertha Hawkeye,” I said, probably bragging a bit as the club had a large price tag at the time.
“HEY! Ya mind if I break… err… I mean hit it?” Earl inquired.
“Yes, I mind.”
Earl was a bit shocked. After all, who was I to turn down this golf prodigy? But he accepted the answer and sulked off a little bit. So I hit. Then Jay. Then Mike.
And Mike, well, he’s a big hitter. Long off the tee, it’s impressive to watch.
Earl was equally impressed.
“Wow! You rocked that ball,” Earl proclaimed. “That swing was awesome. It was so easy. I’m gonna call you the Big Easy!”
(Side note: For the remainder of college, Jay and I continued to call Mike “The Big Easy.” Mike, too, is from a town not far from me and anytime I’ve ever run into him, I’ve always reminded him of this nickname. Good times.)
Earl’s shot wasn’t so, well, easy. He shanked it to the left, into a cow pasture than ran to the side of this hole. He was confident in his ability to find the ball, however, and he dashed ahead to look for it. The rest of us were in the middle or on the right side of the fairway, so we split.
Jay, who was a bit of a comedian, was chuckling already about Earl.
“Where the hell does this guy come from?” Jay asked as we approached his ball. “I can’t believe they would allow someone like him on a course.”
And for those of you who know anything about golf and etiquette, we soon found out that Earl was top of the line.
Jay sized up his shot, went into his backswing and was coming through when…
“I FOUND IT! LOOK GUYS! HERE’S MY BALL!” shouted Earl as topped his shot and his ball dribbled ahead maybe 35 feet.
In the end, it turned out it wasn’t even Earl’s ball, so he just dropped another and played on.
What can you do in a situation like this besides laugh?
So, we covered our faces with our towels and started humming the song “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks as we walked up the fairway.
After finishing the hole, Earl proclaimed a six. A bogey. Not bad, considering he lost a ball, duffed several more and three-putted. It’s some tricky math in Earl’s world.
Another wait followed on the next tee. So, Jay started up, as per normal.
“So Earl, what do you do for a living?”
“A lot of things.”
“Well, I was workin’ down in Philly as a contractor, but I hated it. So I am in the area here doing odd jobs.”
“Where you living?”
I was lost as a tourist in the middle of Europe.
“Where the hell is that?” I asked.
“About a mile that way,” said Earl, pointing east.
Turns out it was a tiny little place not far from where all of us went to college. Who knew?
At that point, the fairway opened up and Earl stepped to the tee. He popped his drive way right of a par-3 and swore up a storm.
Oh, I forgot to mention that Earl swears more than a sailor on leave.
After finishing that hole and started the next hole, we again had a wait. The investigative journalist in Earl shined through.
“You guys go to college here?” he asked.
We all replied yes.
“I was taking college classes online through Penn State,” said Earl. “That stuff is a bunch of gobbeldy f—ing gook.”
He pondered his next thought.
“So whatcha guys do for fun? Go to the bars, find the ladies or what?”
We all just stared at him. Quite the switch in thoughts and he was excited to know what a few college kids liked doing. He had a look of excitement on his face. A Kodak moment. Kind of like a kid who uncovers a stack of Playboy’s for the first time.
“Uh yeah, we go out. Parties, bars, whatever,” The Big Easy answered.
“Man, I’d like to see some of those college women,” Earl said. “I’ve gone to a couple bars in town, but I gotta get out more. Maybe I can join up with you guys,”
I think my jaw stayed in the middle of the 15th fairway for quite a while when Jay said “sure.”
That’s how it all began. Earl got some phone numbers. The saga of Earl would continue.
We finished the round. Jay actually let Earl hit his Bertha driver later in the round, praying the whole time nothing would happen.
And Earl, well Earl continued as he had. Swearing. Hitting’. Chillin’.
The end of Earl was not to be, however. And it will continue on here at A ‘lil HooHaa. Welcome back, Earl.
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