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Golf During Wartime

Eventually I got used to them. The wild dogs, however, were a different story. Which is how I found myself in the middle of that fairway, facing a truly unique risk-reward shot-making experience.

When I sized up the land from where my drive had landed, I figured I needed at least a 250-yard fairway wood to clear the pack of dogs. I hadn't made it. Coming up short and within saliva distance of the mongrels, I had two options: declare the ball unplayable (even though it wasn't) or try the shot of my life.

Being a by-the-book Englishman, there was really no question what I would do next. I took a seven-iron and a deep breath, gripped tight and ran at the dogs. They stood as I approached. Still running, I turned side-on and whacked the ball over the slavering pack. It sailed into the air, eventually falling and rolling onto the green. Without stopping I turned sharp left and off the fairway into the rough, passing a Syrian rules official (I mean, soldier) who must have wondered what version of golf I was playing. I waved at him, hoping this would confuse him and keep him from firing at me. It worked.

There were cameras available to record this great shot. But none did.

Before the round we had asked the club if caddies were available. The elderly caddiemaster had pointed to a group of ten-year-old boys he said could pull trolleys. They were hired. We handed them a number of point-and-shoot cameras and asked them to take pictures of our round—any great shots, hands held up in victory, that kind of thing. They smiled and nodded. Months after I left Beirut, the film was developed. I excitedly looked for evidence of the "dog shot." Instead I found rolls and rolls showing only pictures of young, smiling Lebanese caddies holding golf clubs, hitting shots, waving. All they'd done was take pictures of themselves.

Did it matter?Not at all. Old photos of Beirut, even today, can't fully remind one of what that amazing city was once like. Maybe that's just as well.


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