Dead Men’s Clubs
Dead Men’s Clubs
A Story of Golf, Death, and Redemption
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Munch Malone is one seriously inept golfer, but that hasn’t dimmed his enthusiasm for the game. Now, at seventy, Munch, a high handicapper, has drawn some unlikely attention—from the afterlife.

From on high, two golfers—both quite deceased—have been scouring Earth on a quest to find the perfect golfer. But there are so many golfers on so many golf courses. If they are ever to play the game they both loved so much in life again, they need just the right golfer for a grand experiment from the Great Beyond. And then they find Munch. Target acquired, they settle back into their easy chairs in the great clubhouse in the sky, drinks in hand, to watch as their experiment plays itself out down on terra firma—on high-definition television, of course.

Meanwhile, down on Earth, Munch is going about his life, oblivious to the role he is about to play in their game. He’s just invested in clubs that once belonged to scratch golfers— his secret strategy for success in the USGA Senior Men’s Amateur Championship. But his destiny to win the Open is derailed as Vegas operatives plot to steal his clubs. The escapade romps across The Greenbrier’s Old White Golf Course and into the hotel’s underground bunker—as the adventure is spiced up by sexual twists and Glocks being drawn on the course.

Now, it’s a battle of wills—both terrestrial and heavenly—to see if Munch’s destiny or his ineptitude will reign supreme.


“Two deceased but very excited golfers looked down on Earth in great anticipation. So many golf courses, so many golfers. The two had assessed thousands of high handicappers over a two year period. Their intent, their need, was to locate a seriously inept golfer down there. They needed him if they were ever again to play the game.

When all the research was completed, there was agreement that a 70-year-old duffer down in South Carolina by the name of Munch Malone was their man. Yes, indeed, watching Munch play convinced them he would suit their needs very nicely. They settled back in easy chairs at the Clubhouse, drinks in hand, preparing to watch the action down there---on terra firma, through High Definition TV.


Munch Malone was pissed off. It was all beginning again. His belief that this would be the day his golf game would finally come together was shot down in flames as he teed off, topping the ball, watching it dribble fifty feet down the fairway.

Munch seethed with anger, resisting the urge to slam the ground with his club or throw the damn thing as far as he could. He knew his golf buddies were watching, waiting for the blowup. Munch’s temper and his lousy game were well known.

Barely controlling his emotions, Munch walked back to his golf cart and plunged the driver into the bag. He pulled out his three wood and suddenly felt an intense heat soar from the club into his hand, searing through his right arm and knifing into his shoulder. He saw flashes of white and his mind seemed---what?---misty? Images danced before him, cavorting across the wide expanse of fairway that flooded his eyes.

Then, a jolt to his entire body, a feeling of immense confidence consumed him as he waggled the three wood. He shook his head to clear his thoughts and walked to his ball. He went through his pre-shot routine and looked down. The ball was looking back at him, just setting there, daring to be hit. Munch wasted no time; he brought the club back and then swung with force, hitting the shit out of that dimpled smile. It was beautiful, about 250 yards. Not bad for a three wood.

Munch grinned broadly as congratulatory shouts came his way. He eased the three wood back into the bag, patted it lightly and clambered into his golf cart, giving a thumbs up to his golfing buddies. This was more like it; maybe this was his day, Munch thought.

That hope quickly vanished, however, as Munch hit his third shot, resulting in a banana ball that hooked into the woods, out of bounds. Frustrated, he grimly proceeded toward the green, one bad shot at a time. What had started with excellence ended in agony, with Munch carding a Snowman on number One at Heron Point on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

The scenario repeated itself hole after hole and Munch knew he was on his way to another rotten score. At number Eleven he was totally dejected, looking down a fairway that seemed to stretch miles before him. Munch grabbed for his driver and prepared for the worst. His golf group stood by, intrigued, wondering what would happen this time.

Steady, slow, keep your head still, straight left arm, take it back low, remember to shift your weight,” Munch murmured to himself. The hole was a par five that stretched for 550 yards from the tips. It was beautiful, and the amazing Pete Dye had designed a challenging dogleg left, punctuated with enough sand traps to create a small Sahara around the green.

Munch anticipated the dreaded “outside-in” that always sent his ball skidding to the left and out of bounds. “What the hell,” he thought, “balls out!” His body stiffened as he began his back swing. He knew he should grasp the club lightly, like a feather. Instead, his fist tightened around the driver. The blood vessel in the middle of his forehead bulged, looking as though it might burst at any minute.

“Cock your wrist, pussy to the ball,” were additional swing thoughts, along with the realization he could only get the club up to his shoulder, just past a protruding mid-section. “How the hell do they do it?” he thought, reflecting on the low handicappers who effortlessly brought the driver around behind the head, left arm straight, wrists snapping in perfect time, hitting the ball a blazing 300 yards.

Munch’s mind wrapped around all the mechanics he needed to perform, clogging his swing with a thousand different thoughts. His downswing was rigid. The head of the club flayed back and forth, connecting with that dull thud Munch hated. The ball veered right instead of left and eagerly sought the depth of the pond, exiting the fairway just in front of the ladies’ tees.

“Son of a bitch! I can’t believe it!” he shouted, slamming his club into the ground once, twice, three times.

“Pull out your pecker,” Eugene Columbus yelled; the traditional jibe when a golfer fails to hit beyond the red tees. Eugene tugged the zipper to his trousers up and down and pushed his hips back and forth in a humping motion, trying to help Munch through another trauma.

“Ass hole,” Munch muttered, shrugging his shoulders, managing a thin smile.

Eugene was a golfing enigma to Munch. He was a natural who could play once a year and shoot in the 70’s. Munch, who struggled to get to 105 in a round, feared he would never break 100 and would never be in any way comparable to the guys in his golf group. They and their wives were friends of many years. Hence, Munch was included in a low handicap foursome. Eugene was a 2, Dave Rambo a 5, and John Henry a 9. Munch was a pathetic 33, earned by a woeful experience of 30 years of golf.

At 70-years-of-age, Munch was generally pleased with life; people tended to immediately like him. He was social in nature, short, non-threatening, ruddy complexion, hair on the side and back of his head, bald as a cue ball on top. Before retirement he had been a hard working entrepreneur who found success at most anything he really put his mind to.

Munch believed he had succeeded in life because he played fair, worked hard and applied “Critical Mass”, i.e., the practice of doing something ten thousand times until perfection is achieved. He quoted Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers who had said “Everyone on the field is talented, but the ones who stick are the ones that put in the time.”

One thing, however, did not work that way. One thing produced less when given more. One thing did not respond to sheer will and determination. That was why that one thing---golf---caused Munch Malone to be a mad, mad man. Munch desperately wanted to have game. He would kill to break 100. He had believed as he pounded out the hours that Critical Mass would again give him success. But it was not to be; golf sneered at Critical Mass.

Charlie Ryan is a serial entrepreneur who founded and sold four marketing firms over thirty-two years. He began his career as a television anchor; after selling his businesses, he became the founding dean of a graduate school of business. He currently lives in South Carolina, and he seeks divine intervention when trying to lower his handicap.


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