Second-year Kansas University golf coach Jamie Bermel is accustomed to talking to his players about birdies, but when it came to the birdies and the bees Tuesday, well, that grew more than a bit uncomfortable for the coach and his player.
Where to start without making everybody reading this at the breakfast table cringe?
Let’s start at history-rich Crooked Stick Golf Club near Carmel, Ind. Hole No. 13, a 182-yard par 3, is fraught with danger with its changes in elevation and snaking creek. We now know its danger extends beyond the scorecard.
Bermel was standing on the tee box with freshman Chase Hanna when he noticed another one of his players who had pulled his drive left was about to assess himself an unnecessary penalty stroke.
Bermel rushed to the scene to let Logan Philley, a native of Robert Lee, Texas, and a transfer from Odessa Junior College, know that shots into the railroad ties on that hole qualify for a free drop.
While Bermel, a rules official, and Philley discussed where to drop the ball, Philley stepped in what he thought might have been a gopher hole. In so doing, he upset a bees’ nest.
“The first one hit me in my right temple,” Philley said Wednesday night. “Then I got stung three or four times on the back of the right side of my neck. I didn’t think I had any on me and then I noticed I had five or six on me stinging my jacket. I threw my jacket off and threw my hat off. There were a couple in my hair, stinging my hair, so I pulled them off.”
He and Bermel had run from the site of the nest. Bermel noticed his player’s bag still was over there, decorated from top to bottom with angry bees.
That’s when the coach decided to take one for the team by retrieving the bag and incurring more nasty stings.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep very well last night,” Bermel said. “I was itching the whole time. So I just got out of bed at 3 a.m., went into my office and did some work.”
Philley said he woke up with swelling in the area between his right eye and temple and thought he might still have a stinger in his neck. Despite all that, he called playing Crooked Stick, “a good experience. It was definitely the nicest course I’ve played in my lifetime.”
Philley also learned more than just a local rule. Since returning to the original drop area would have put the golfer in a “dangerous situation,” he was allowed to drop in a safer spot without penalty.
Philley played on through “random pain,” didn’t play particularly well by his standards, but survived the discomfort and expanded his knowledge. That’s how those things often work. They tend not to be quite as bad as you initially fear.