I played golf on Sunday.
On the second hole, I hit a tree with my second shot, causing it to ricochet directly back at me, nearly killing me. My third shot was heading toward the green when it struck a rake lying between me and the green, popping the ball up and sending it right of the green.
I kind of lost my mind for a moment. Threw my club to the ground and jumped up and down. My friend, Jeff, said, "You hit everything but the hole. It's unbelievable." Then he and my friend, Tom, began ticking off the objects that I've hit in the past.
There have been a lot.
Golf cart. Barn. The flag on an adjacent green. Yardage marker. Snack shack. Drainage pipe (I actually put the ball in the drain pipe). Tree after tree after tree.
The history my humiliating golf shots is long and storied.
I finished the hole with a double bogie. Less than five minutes later, I hit a tee shot that sailed low and hooked left before striking a bird mid-air, killing it.
Yes. I hit and killed a bird mid flight. Probably a starling. Do you have any idea how improbable that is, particular after talking about all the things I hit on the golf course just minutes before?
I only saw the brief flutter of feather and wing because I was keeping my head down (as every golfer should), but Tom said that the bird paused midair for a moment as if to cry out, "Goodbye, cruel world!" before plummeting into the ravine below.
I felt terrible. I had killed a living creature with a golf ball. Not a terribly well hit ball, either.
I was also a little annoyed. Following the bird into the ravine was my ball, costing me a penalty stroke. My friend, Plato, says the ball wasn't going to clear the ravine anyway, but he's a pessimist who cannot be trusted when it comes to judgment calls like this.
Later on, I learned that there is actually a rule (19.1) that would've permitted me to take a free drop. No penalty. But given that a bird died in my fruitless pursuit of par, I felt like the penalty was probably justified.