Caron Butler's First Golf Outing
"So what's the objective of this one now?" Caron Butler asked when our multi-golf-cart party arrived at Congressional's 10th tee this morning.
"Hit it over the water," someone said.
After Darrell Green and Rock Cartwright and Chick Hernandez had teed off, Butler's Wizard teammate Roger Mason Jr. stepped up to the tee box. He was asked about his chances of clearing the water; "Most of the time I miss, sometimes I make the connection," he said. "If I hit it, it's a 50-50 chance."
His drive lurched sharply left, following the earth and then knocking heads with a stone wall.
"I made connection," Mason said, "so that's a win."
Now came Butler. His odds of hitting the green? "Probably the same odds of me waking up before the rooster," he said, before launching a lazy pop fly in the vague direction of the pin that landed about 75 LeBron jump steps short of dry land.
"Damn wind," Butler said. "The wind, the clouds, the rain; it's crazy."
Indeed, there were reasons to suspect that the first few golf shots Butler and Mason attempted today might be less than perfect. Mason was wearing brand-new $60 gold slacks he had just bought in the Congressional Country Club pro shop, having been told his cargo pants were unacceptable attire. Butler emphasized that he had "never picked up a club, ever; ever, ever, ever, ever, ever," and asked "how do I hold this joint?" when he was finally handed a club on the sixth fairway. He said he's been trying to watch golf more recently, but when asked whether he knew what a birdie was, he replied with a meek "kind of," adding "I hear the wordplay a lot."
His golfing outfit--picked out by wife Andrea--was truly inspired, from the white Louis Vuitton loafers with brown laces to the beige vest with peach shirt.
"And you have me under it, with my caramel complexion that brings out the whole outfit," he explained.
The outfit certainly worked, although the golf itself was less successful. Put it this way: the heart of the Nats order makes more consistently solid contact, and also strikes out less. "Watch your head!" Butler shouted to a neighboring group at one point. "Hey, my whole purpose of this trip is not to hit nobody," he explained. "It takes time. Rome wasn't built overnight. It was built, though."
His next shot hopped up in the air, poked its head around briefly and then ducked back onto the turf and scurried perhaps 20 yards down a hill. "This golf thing is killing me," Butler said.
Mason kept it up gamely for another half-dozen holes, and he had his moments, but Butler mostly just rode around, networked with Darrell Green, made jokes, discussed the upcoming NBA draft and hit tee shots. I asked why he kept following the fivesome around if he wasn't going to play on this morning.
"Just having a good time," he said with a straight face. "They say this is what rich people do. Obviously I'm rich."
"Expect to see that in The Washington Post tomorrow," Mason said, which was true enough.
After some more advice from Green and Cartwright and Hernandez and the caddy, and after Butler nearly jumped out of his golf cart when some kid started up a riding lawnmower, the Wizards returned to the clubhouse and let the fivesome shrink back to a threesome.
"I think it was a humbling experience for both of us," Mason said. "Sometimes when you're a pro at something else it's good to come out and embarrass yourself a little bit."
Butler, meantime, said he planned on playing regularly throughout the rest of this offseason, saying he's too competitive to accept one-and-done failure.
"Look forward to me being out there at least once or twice a week from here on out," he said, "brush up on my game so I can get real nice with it. So watch out for me Tiger."
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