Writing the Corey Pavin Shotmaking piece a few turns back brought about some post traumatic stress that I feel should be dealt with promptly. In today’s tale, I shall confront one of my greatest childhood fears – early 90′s era Cleveland VAS irons. I think Halloween is an appropriate time for such a discussion.
My younger readers may not believe that such a hideous beast as the VAS exists on this Earth. They may suggest that I’m just a senile old man. I’m here to tell you that I have seen it with my own two eyes. Would that I could go back to that day and unsee it – my life may have turned out different. But the past is the past and I must press on before my courage fails. I bid the weak of heart to turn back now, lest you face the same nightmares that still visit me. In the following paragraphs I shall describe what I saw to the best of my ability, for I am willing to risk being considered a lunatic if it means I help others to never see the VAS themselves.
I was 2nd to tee off at Laguna Lake Golf Course when I observed the VAS in the fall of 1994. It was a chill autumn day, and rain threatened to break free from the clouds. But fate was cruel – no rain fell and play proceeded as normal. I was called to the tee and approached unsuspecting. For reasons I will never comprehend, it was my destiny to glance in the bag of the man teeing off. I now think of my life in two phases – everything before that moment and everything after – such was the impact of that first scarring glimpse:
Its head was an abomination.
A grotesque oval stood where the normal head should be, perhaps twice as long and half as high. The visual impression of a teardrop came to mind and I found the image fitting – however tears were useless against the creature. Another person may have seen a bullet shape, but if I truly had a gun I cannot tell you whether I would have shot the VAS or turned it on myself to escape my terror.
The heel of the club, which should of course stop at the hosel, extended unnaturally beyond the shaftline. It had curves, to be sure, but somehow they were warped and twisted into something resembling blades or perhaps teeth. Yes, teeth, I think – for every hideous lash from the VAS’s master (or perhaps the VAS was the master and the man the slave – we shall never know) was like an angry maw devouring the helpless turf.
It appeared to be made from a mold rather than forged, yet a mold indicates repeatability and this thing had to be unique. Surely God would never allow a world in which these VAS’s were able to multiply, running in packs and terrorizing innocents. Yet I thought I saw more than one in the bag, perhaps a pack of as many as nine, each the same but somehow different – longer, shorter, but all grotesque.
Its neck was crooked and I can only assume broken – although it was by no means immobile. In fact, I was witness to the speed at which the VAS attacked the unassuming golf ball on the first tee. After hiding in the shadows of the golfer’s backswing for what seemed like an eternity, the VAS swept up and over the top, jerking into its final decent before devouring both golfball and turf in one savage blur. The poor Titelist stood no chance. I only hope it found peace in its watery grave – the Perfumo Canyon Creek that ran adjacent to hole number 1. I dared not move from my observation point as the golfer loaded ball number 2 and ball number 3, sacrificing each in turn to some terrible spirit or demon, I know not which. I felt only sorrow for the ball that finally came to rest just clear of the hazard, knowing that its momentary relief would soon end with another VAS attack, perhaps by a packmate.
As the man left the tee with his hell-pack, I trembled, paralyzed by fear, knowing if the VAS came for me I would suffer the same fate as the Titleists. Had it seen me? No, I thought. I had been quiet. I glanced back at the clubhouse, then beyond the fence that formed the course boundary. There was nowhere to go. I cowered behind my bag, listening to my own heartbeat. BA THUMP, BA THUMP. Was it gone? BA THUMP, BA THUMP.
I could take it no more. Peering out between two headcovers, I thought for a split second that the teeing ground was clear and the VAS was gone. But as I began to rise, my horror came back all at once, for I caught sight of the man striding off the tees and although his back was to me, I found myself staring straight at the cavity of the VAS.
THE VAS WAS STARING BACK AT ME.
Its back was a hollow shell, a husk really, devoid of any muscle save for the perimeter. A hideous scar ran down the middle of its sole. The colors were unnatural – blue, yellow, red, purple. Jagged lines transitioned to curves and the juxtaposition itself was enough to instill pain. But the worst part, the part that haunts me to this day, was the terrible purple eye that was looking at me – looking through me even – and in that gaze there was no empathy, only rage, and hatred for traditional golfers and all their tools.
I do not know why I was spared that day. Perhaps a boy like myself was not large enough to satisfy the VAS’s appetite, or maybe it was the company of my foursome that pushed the VAS to find an easier target.
I realize that all I have described sounds absurd. I can only tell you that I saw it and I will never be the same.
There is no doubt in my mind that in some forgotten corner of the golf universe, the VAS sits in a canvas bag, next to a Burner Bubbleshaft Driver, patiently awaiting its chance to be unleashed again. I pray that I am not around to see that day.