The early morning sun cast an eerie glow over Baghdad as I lined up my shot. The conditions weren’t bad – it was warm but not hot, the air was still, and I had an unobstructed view of my target.
Over the fifteen years or so that I have played golf, I have found myself in many challenging situations. I have been in the trees and in the sand. I have lost balls and four-putted. But no matter how badly I played, I always knew I could make it up on the next hole, or the next time I played.
Not this time. This time I had one shot, and it had to be perfect.
I pulled out a six iron and lined up. I whispered to myself to watch the ball, keep my left arm straight and follow through. As I drew back and began to swing, a thousand thoughts shot through my brain, and none of them were about golf.
I thought of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The no-fly zones. The STARK. Operation Iraqi Freedom. All the men and women who gave their lives and limbs to fight a tyrant so self-absorbed that he diverted water from the Tigris River to create man-made lakes for his palaces, at the expense of local farmers whose fields went dry. A man who took pleasure in torture – the real, horrible, medieval kind.
I thought of the magnificent troops we had met, stationed a million miles from home in hostile territory, yet still capable of flashing a smile and deflecting any praise directed their way.
That swing – at least to me – was for all of them. As I connected, I watched the ball sail straight and true, plopping harmlessly in Saddam’s lake.
It was a perfect shot.