The Dolphin and the Birdie

by Stan

Once, in a time and land far away where tales like these tended to take place, there lived a dolphin. His name was Mortimer.

Mortimer was like most other dolphins in most ways: intelligent, kind and belligerent when he had too much to drink at Margarita Mondays. He came from humble beginnings and worked hard to make sure he got into a prestigious school.

But like other tales of this kind, this story wouldn't be about Mortimer if he weren't unique in some way. And unique he was because Mortimer the dolphin, more than anything else in the world, wanted to be a professional golfer.

He was swimming by the shore one afternoon, trying to impress a couple of female dolphins with this new back flip twist jump that he learned in class. He picked up speed and leaped out of the water. He was halfway over on his back flip rotation when his eyes caught a glimpse of the cliffs overlooking the ocean. There, he saw the most beautiful sight he ever laid his eyes upon: Tiger Woods was putting for birdie from the fringe on the 18th, tied for the lead at 5 under with Mickelson, who was already in the clubhouse. Woods read the green perfectly and sank the putt, causing the crowd to roar with elation. Mortimer, his eyes transfixed on the scene, fell back into the water fin-first. Right then and there, he knew what he was destined to become.

"That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard," Mort's mom said when he told her of his golfing aspirations.

"Why can't you just support me, ma?" He asked.

"Honey, I love you," she replied, "But you being a professional golfer is just stupid. And you know what happens to stupid dolphins?"

"They get caught in tuna nets and die," Mort replied.

"That's right. Stupid dolphins get caught in tuna nets and die. Now why don't you try to be more like your cousin Rusty?" She asked.

"Why do you always have to bring up Rusty?" He replied. "Always Rusty. Rusty, Rusty, Rusty!"

Rusty was Mort's second cousin on his mother's side. Dolphins, with their gregarious demeanor, are natural entertainers. Leading some to even call them the "John Travolta of the aquatic mammals." Rusty was one of the best actors of his generation. He started out by landing a role in the dolphin show at Sea World but he's probably best known for his starring role opposite a young Jessica Alba in the hit tv series, "Flipper, The New Adventures."

"Why shouldn't I bring up Rusty?" His mom asked. "He's handsome, successful and just put a down-payment on one of those new condos over in Coral Gables."

"Get over it ma. I'm not Rusty," Mort said. "And if you don't want to support me then fine. I'll do it on my own. I'm going to be a professional golfer, ma. I'll show you. I'll show everyone!"

And show he did. Swimming in the waters off Pebble Beach, Mort was able to cobble together a set of golf clubs from the clubs thrown into the ocean by frustrated golfers. He was also able to gather up quite a number of golf balls this way. Mort quickly learned however, that golf wasn't a sport designed with dolphins in mind. For one thing it's a bit difficult to swing a golf club without opposable thumbs. He solved this problem by grinding his fins against coral to create grooves in which he could hold the clubs. Sure, he lost a lot of blood, and sure, the sea water in the open wounds stung like a bitch. But to Mortimer, the lightheadedness and stinging sensation were simply $1s and $5s to be paid to the stripper of life as she danced on her pole, minor costs to be paid in hopes of reaching that wonderful hour in the champagne room known as his golfing career.

Just as he solved the whole holding-clubs problem did another arise. Mort realized he knew absolutely nothing about golf. In his desperation, a chance encounter rescued Mort's dreams from the abyss. Laying on the beach was none other than Fluff Cowan, Tiger Woods' first caddie on the tour and the one with whom he won his first Masters tournament in 1997.

"Oh my gosh, you're Fluff Cowan!" Mort said.

"That I am, little buddy," Fluff replied. "Why the long bottle-nose?"

"Well Fluff, I really want to be a professional golfer, but I realized I don't know the first thing about golf."

"Well buddy, you're just in luck. It so happens that I've been looking for a new protégé to train and caddy for."

"You have?" Mort asked.

"Sure have," Fluff replied. "I've been dying to get back at Tiger for firing me and I think you just might be the golfer to help me do it!"

And like other tales of this kind with training montages, Fluff and Mort had their own training montage:

  • Fluff teaching Mort how to hold a club and swing, with Mort initially failing.
  • Fluff drawing up golf diagrams on a chalkboard for Mort to study.
  • Mort swimming laps in the rain with Fluff yelling from behind.
  • Mort finally being able to grip and rip the golf ball 300 yards with a 3 wood as Fluff looks on approvingly.

    "Looks like the kid's got it," Fluff said to himself.

    The big day finally came. Showdown at Pebble Beach. All the other golfers laughed at the sight of Fluff giving Mort some final advice.

    "I don't know if I can't go through with this," Mort said.

    "Don't worry about them kid," Fluff replied. You'll show them.

    And show them he did. Mortimer beat the course record after three rounds by ten strokes. A previously unheard of score. It all came down to him and Tiger Woods on the 18th hole, par 3, of the final round, with Tiger down a stroke.

    "It all comes down you and me on the 18th hole, par 3, of this final round, with me down a stroke," Tiger said to Mort.

    "May the best mammal win," Mort replied as he ripped the ball. It landed on the edge of the green, ten yards from the cup. A truly amazing shot.

    "What a truly amazing shot," Tiger said. He stepped up to his ball and swung. The ball sailed and sailed through the air on a gust of wind, but the wind carried it too far, and the ball hit the rough on the left side of the fairway, took two bounces and landed in the ocean. Everyone groaned as Tiger sank to his knees.

    "That's it kid, that's the game!" Fluff said. "Now all you have to do is sink this and you've got it!"

    Mort stepped up to the ball with his putter. He read the green as running left to right, compensated, and tapped the ball. It rolled up to the lip of the cup, held for an eternity, and finally dropped in.

    "Yeah!" Everyone cheered.

    "You did it Mort! You really did it!" Fluff cried.

    Watching on her television set back home in the corals, Mort's mom couldn't believe her eyes. "Well I'll be damned," she said. "He really did it."

    Tiger Woods, humbled, walked up to Mort and offered his congratulations. "You're pretty good--for a dolphin," he said.

    "Thanks," Mort replied, "So are you." And they hugged, as only a man and dolphin could hug.

    Not too long after the events of Pebble Beach, the Professional Golfers Association, citing the need to "preserve tradition," passed Resolution 113--barring dolphins and other aquatic mammals from competing on the tour. And just like that, Mortimer's professional golfing days were over. But his legend lives on.

    "Hey Tiger," Fluff said.

    "Yeah Fluff?" Tiger replied.

    "You remember that one time you fired me and I got back at you by training that dolphin, Mort, to kick your ass at Pebble Beach?"

    "Yeah Fluff, I do," Tiger said.

    "I wonder whatever happened to him."

    "Me too, Fluff. Me too... Pass me another tuna sandwich, will ya?"

    "Sure thing."

    And they lived happily ever after as people in these tales tended to do.

  • Copyright 2003, 2004