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Calendar >  Condor -Thomas Calabrese

Condor -Thomas Calabrese

By   /  June 12, 2022  /  10 Comments


Ten Bogeys

Thomas Calabrese–Scoring a condor is the rarest event in golf. This is normally a hole in one at a par five or a two at a par six would also count, but this has never been done. Only five condors have ever been recorded. A bogey means one over par or in military jargon, an enemy aircraft or person. The term ‘bogey’ comes from a song that was popular in the British Isles in the early 1890s, called ‘The Bogey Man.’

What is also rare, not as rare as a condor shot in golf, but unusual and that is for a Marine officer to be attached to one duty station for most of his career. Captain Eli Reston and his wife, Jennifer were driving from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to Camp Pendleton in California with their two young children, four-year-old daughter Michelle and two-year-old son, Alex. Captain Reston had sixteen days before he was scheduled to report to First Reconnaissance Battalion.

The family planned their cross county trip with stops at Graceland, Grand Ole Opry, Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Blue Hole of Santa Rosa and the Grand Canyon. Their last stop was at the Barstow Station before driving the last 154 miles to Oceanside. They filled up with gas and got some snacks.

Jennifer said, “It’s been a good trip, if I say so myself.”

            “I’d say a great one, we had good weather the whole way. We got to see some pretty good stuff and I still got five days before I report in. How about if we go to Hearst Castle or Universal Studios?” Eli then added with a sly grin. “I’m just getting my second wind.”

            “I’ve got a better idea, how about if we check in at the hotel on base, rest up and then decide?” Jennifer responded.

Michelle was a precocious young child and often surprised her parents with her level of maturity and quick wit. Her nickname was ‘Mikey’. “What do you think, Mikey?”

Mikey responded, “I agree with mom, but I can go either way. You know how young kids are, takes them a while to build up their stamina. Alex could use some shut-eye.”

Eli responded, “Roger that, Mike Delta.” Delta is part of the military alphabet and daughter began with the letter D, hence the call sign Mike Delta. “Camp Pendleton it is then!”

Long distance truckdriver Wally Rutherford began feeling badly as he passed through Las Vegas. He first started feeling queasy back in Gallup, New Mexico and thought it was something he ate. He took some Pepto Bismol and that helped with the indigestion, but it did nothing to eliminate the nausea. Wally stopped several times along the highway when he got dizzy and should have rested for several hours instead of a few minutes. Even better, he should gone to Urgent Care, but Wally was already behind schedule and decided to push his limits. His plan was to deliver this load of furniture in Temecula and get some rest.

Wally had just passed Barstow, his head started spinning and he was perspiring heavily and he knew that he wasn’t going to make it. What he didn’t realize was he had food poisoning. Wally looked for a place to pull over and momentarily lost sight of the vehicle on his right side.

Luckily, Eli saw the truck weaving up ahead, so when it abruptly came into his lane, he was able to swerve out of the way, otherwise it would have been worse. Captain Reston slammed on the brakes and skidded into a bridge abutment. Jennifer had momentarily released her seatbelt to reach into the backseat to hand her young son a water bottle. She was in an awkward position when the vehicle came to an abrupt stop. She was catapulted forward and hit her head against the windshield and sustained a head injury.

As time passed, a doctor determined that Jennifer Reston’s head injury caused her to experience symptoms related to Hodophobia, the medical term for a fear of traveling. She began shaking, getting dizzy or experienced headaches whenever the family tried to go further than 50 miles away from the base.  Jennifer was a strong woman and did not like having any restrictions on her so she dealt with her issues through yoga and exercise rather than by being on anti-anxiety medicine.

Captain Reston applied for the Exceptional Family Member Program and it was approved by the Marine Corps. This program made allowances for family members with medical issues. In this particular case, Camp Pendleton would remain Eli’s permanent duty station and his family would be able to stay in base housing. He was assigned to deployable units and went overseas for varying lengths of time with them.

Growing up on base had its advantage for a young girl. First of all, it was very safe for Michelle to ride her bike anywhere that wasn’t restricted. She initially spent most of her time at the stables riding her horse, Isabella until one day she was riding her bike by the golf course and saw some men playing so she sat down and watched for a while. It caught her interest so after going down to the course several more times, she asked her father. “Do you think you could take me golfing?” Michelle asked.

Captain Reston looked at his seven-year-old daughter and asked. “Sure, since when did you become interested in golf?”

            “I saw some people playing and I’d like to try it.”

            “What about clubs?” Eli asked

Michelle smiled. “I stopped in at the pro shop and they have some children’s clubs for rent. I wouldn’t even bother you, but they say I’m too young to play without adult supervision. You know how it is with regulations.”

            “It’s no bother, if you want to play some golf, then we’ll play some golf.”

After a couple rounds, Michelle was hooked, so every chance her dad or mom had, they took her down to play. While her mother wasn’t that interested in the game, she enjoyed the walking and the exercise. Her parents bought her a set of clubs and after a while Michelle met some other adults at the base course who allowed her play to along with them. The young girl was a natural, a genuine child prodigy and a bona fide Phenom when it came to the game of golf. It was like she was born to play the game. She was so good that the other players realized that they were in the presence of impending greatness and looked forward to seeing Mikey at the course.

Retired General Brian Hansen, an avid golfer called out when he arrived at the course, “Hey Mikey! Do you feel like playing a round with some old devildogs?”

Michelle smiled, “I guess so…five dollars a hole sound good to you?”

General Hansen replied. “You got it.”

There were two other retired Marines who agreed to three dollars a hole and the foursome teed off. By the time they finished 18 holes, Michelle had won 13 of them. General Hansen sighed. “I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m never going to beat you.”

            “I don’t want you to be upset, do you want your money back?” Michelle joked. “I hate to see a Marine cry.”

General Hansen responded, “Hell no, you know what they say’ the next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing. Want to play on Saturday morning? I’ve got a tee time at 0700 at the Arrowhead Golf Course.”

            “I think so, right now I’ve got nothing planned, but I have to ask my dad.”

General Hansen offered. “I can pick you up if you want?”

Michelle was becoming a local celebrity as her tournament wins quickly accumulated. She became the youngest player to qualify for United States Golf Association amateur championship at the age of ten and at 15 years of age Michelle turned professional. Her brother, Alex became her caddy, but her mother was limited to local tournaments within a 50 mile radius of the base because of her medical condition. Colonel Reston did his best to attend as many events as he could when his daughter’s playing schedule did not conflict with his military commitments. On the occasions when he couldn’t be there, Michelle’s coach, Butch Comstock looked out for the Reston children.

Michelle was entered in the Dubai Moonlight Classic a professional golf tournament on the Ladies European Tour. The event was being held at the Emirates Golf Club and the overall purse for this Rolex Series event was $9 million with the winner claiming a $3 million prize money payout.

Colonel Reston was at his office on Camp Pendleton when four men showed up. They did not use their names but simply showed their identification which had their photos with the words Special Agent. Two were with the Central Intelligence Agency and the other two were with the National Intelligence Agency.

The First Man said, “We are authorized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to talk with you.”

Colonel Reston wasn’t a big fan of either agency so he proceeded with extreme caution. “About what?”

            “Your daughter is playing in Dubai next week, we need you to go with her.” Second Man said.

            “And do what?” Colonel Reston asked.

Third man explained. “To obtain some information that is vital to our national security.”

The fourth man continued. “One of the men at the tournament will have crucial Intel about the current status and safety protocols at Iran’s largest nuclear enrichment facility. We want, let me re-phase this…we need that Intel.”

            “Why me?” Colonel Reston said.

First Man responded. “Because we need someone we can trust and who has a reason to be there. There will be a private party prior to the start of tournament. Security will be state of the art and the guest list will be closely scrutinized. It is too risky to have a regular field agent infiltrate the festivities. If we blow this opportunity, we won’t get a second chance.”

            “What is the package?” Colonel Reston asked.

            “A flashdrive. Even though your contact will be under protection, he’ll find a way to slip it to you during the party. After you give it to us your involvement ends,” Second Man said.

Fourth Man added. “And you can watch your daughter play golf as if nothing ever happened.”

            “This is a top secret mission, so you are ordered to tell no one.” First Man ordered.

Colonel Reston hesitated, then responded. “I don’t like using my daughter’s career as a cover.”

Second Man emphasized the seriousness of the situation. “We wouldn’t ask if there was another way. Your country needs your help and these are desperate times that we live in.”

Colonel Reston was standing at the bar inside the Emirates Golf Club sipping on a beer when a man flanked by two bodyguards walked up and stood next to him. He said to the bartender. “Vesper Martini…shaken, not stirred.”

While holding the drink in his right hand, the man inconspicuously slipped the flashdrive under Colonel Reston’s arm that was resting on the mahogany bar and walked away.

Colonel Reston gave one of the agents the flashdrive later that night in the lobby of the Atlantis Hotel.  The agent asked. “You haven’t looked at it, have it?”

            “No,” Colonel Reston said.

The agent walked off without a word.

Michelle Reston won the tournament by one stroke after making an eagle on the 17th hole. The Reston family returned to Camp Pendleton and easily fell back into their routine. Michelle loved simple life on base and no media personnel were allowed to come to their house in the San Luis Rey housing area without special permission. It was her personal sanctuary.  It was 0430 and Michelle heard knocking at the front door. She looked out her window and from her vantage point, she could see that it was General Hansen. By the time she made it to the door, her father was already there. She asked, “We weren’t scheduled to play this morning, were we?”

General Hansen smiled, “Good morning Mikey, no we weren’t scheduled to play. I wouldn’t bother you if it wasn’t important,” he turned to Colonel Reston, “Can we talk in private?”

Colonel Reston and General Hansen went into the den and Eli closed the door. General Hansen wasted no time in asking, “What happened in Dubai?”

            “I don’t know what you mean,” Colonel Reston evaded the question

General Hansen sighed impatiently. “I got a call from a friend of mine at the Pentagon and they’re coming for you. You might as well tell me what’s going on. I’d rather hear the truth from you then hear the lies from somebody else.”

Colonel Reston explained how he had been approached and what he did after he was in Dubai.

General Hansen responded, “Looks like they were looking for a fall guy and you obliged.”

Colonel Reston suggested. “Take a walk with me.”

The two men walked to the back of the yard. Beneath a rock and inside a box was a plastic sandwich bag with two flashdrives. “I’m not as gullible as they thought.”

General Hansen smiled approvingly, “Did you get a chance to look at it?”

            “What do you think?” Colonel Reston smiled and then added. “You can see what’s on it, but there’s no turning back once you do.”

            “That sounds like a challenge,” General Hansen held out his hand and Colonel Reston put one of the flashdrives in it.

Right about this time, Michelle came walking out and saw the exchange, “What’s going on?”

            “Nothing much,” Colonel Reston said.

Michelle smiled, “Give me a break, dad. I’m the daughter of a Marine officer and it’s in my DNA to be observant.”

General Hansen interjected. “Some men asked your dad to do something for them and now they want to blame him for it.”

            “Like they say, love your country, but be careful who you trust in the government,” Michelle said.

General Hansen suggested. “You should call your unit and tell them you won’t be in for few days. We need some time to figure this out.”

Michelle added. “Do like he says, dad.”

Colonel Reston had just turned left of San Luis Rey base housing onto Vandergrift Boulevard. He looked to his right and saw a caravan of twenty cars with their red lights flashing heading his way. He continued on his way and exited the backgate.

The official vehicles included members of the FBI, Military Police and NCIS. They pulled up in front of the Reston’s quarters. Michelle exited through the front door to greet the men while her mom and brother stood in the doorway behind her.

One of the four men who had approached Colonel Reston in the beginning of this elaborate double-cross asked Michelle, “Where’s your father?”

Michelle responded curtly, “Haven’t seen him, don’t know where he went or when he’ll back.”

Second Man said.  “We’ll have to search the quarters to be sure.”

            “Don’t steal anything,” Michelle said.

When General Hansen got to his home in Carlsbad, he looked at the flashdrive and found that it contained a long list of politicians and government appointees with various cash amounts listed next to their names. It also contained dates and numbered bank accounts .The experienced Marine figured that somebody in the Middle East or in the current administration had obtained this Intel and was blackmailing the criminals in our government. How the individual or individuals were paid off, General Hansen had no idea and didn’t care. One thing was certain, after 33 years in the Corps and having the displeasure of working with some of the most unscrupulous people in the Washington Swamp, he knew that Colonel Reston was a loose end. He had to either be implicated or eliminated.

It was late afternoon and thunder could be heard in the distance as lightning flashed across the sky. The four corrupt agents had commandeered a portion of the FBI office in Area 13 and were following leads as to the whereabouts of Colonel Reston.

The phone rang and one of the men picked it up. He listened for a minute then turned to his cohorts and said.  Reston is at the Arrowhead Golf Course…let’s roll.”

The second man asked. “Are we bringing NCIS with us?”

            “We’re past that point. Call the contactors and tell them to meet us in the parking lot of the golf course,” First Man said.

Twenty minutes later, ten armed men arrived at the Arrowhead Golf Course. One of the contractors asked, “How do you want to handle this?”

The First Agent responded coldly. “Terminate with extreme prejudice.”

            “All of them?”

            “No witnesses…understood?” First Agents said.

As they approached the golf cart area, the Second Agent flashed his badge to a man and said. “We’re looking for Colonel Reston.”

The man responded. “His foursome has been out about 90 minutes.”

            “We need some carts.” The Second Agent demanded.

The man replied. “Help yourself.”

With two men to a cart, they headed out.

The man waited until they were out of earshot before making a call. “Bogeys on the way.”

Colonel Reston, Michelle, General Hansen and former Marine Corps Recon Gunnery Sergeant, Bob Wolfe were standing near the tee of Hole #11, an uphill dogleg, par five with double fairway  three bunker and a large water hazard. This is by far the most difficult hole on the course.

 When they spotted Colonel Reston, the ten armed men stopped their carts behind a group of trees and checked their weapons. It was starting to sprinkle and the First Agent said, “Let’s hurry and get this done, I have early dinner reservations. Nothing like killing people to work up my appetite.”

As they came over the hill, ready to murder without mercy, shots rang out from the distance and six men went down. The four agents rushed forward and were met by a barrage of gunfire from the pistols of Colonel Reston, General Hansen and Gunnery Sergeant Wolfe and they died in a hail of bullets.

It was starting to rain harder as three Marine snipers appeared from their concealed positions. General Hansen turned to Colonel Reston and gave a philosophical autopsy of their dead adversaries, “Cause of death…their arrogance got in the way of their ignorance.”

Gunnery Sergeant Wolfe suggested. “We got it from here, General…you and the Colonel and Mikey better get going before it really starts coming down.”

            “One last shot,” Michelle teed off and her golf ball went high into the sky. At the exact same time, a waterspout appeared over the water hazard and it was sucked the ball into a vortex that was spinning at 250 m.p.h. It spun the ball around a few hundred times then shot it down the other fairway. The ball landed and rolled into the hole.

On this particular day, a Condor, a hole in one on a par five and ten bogeys was a winning round.

The End


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  1. Clyde says:

    I’m not a golfer, but this story sure kept my interest. I now know what a Condor in the game of golf.

  2. Tom Holston says:

    Tom…I’m not a golfer, although I enjoy watching the game. I’d say a Condor and ten bogeys was a great score. I do enjoy your stories!


  3. Robert says:

    Enjoyed reading this week story.

  4. Tom says:

    Another delightful tale. Too bad we can’t really “clean House” this way!

  5. John michels says:

    Fore!!!!!! great story from a frustrated former golfer

  6. Joe Hancock says:

    Great mix of golf and some justice.

  7. Tony says:

    Another great story for my Sunday morning reading enjoyment in the Vista Press by Mr. Thomas Calabrese.
    It is full of intrigue and rogue government employees gone awry. Apparently, we do have some government officials that feel they have the power over the people to make decisions for them that violate the Constitution of our Country. Mr. Calabrese’ story may seem far fetched to some people but not to all. No matter how well the government employees intentions or how right they might be it is the people that must make the decisions according the the Constitution and the Laws of our Land. Fortunately, we do not see or hear about this often.
    This Sunday’s story should serve as a reminder to the people who want to remain in charge of our country as an eye opener.
    Very nice story Mr. Calabrese. Kudos for writing and reminding the people that we must stay vigilant and safeguard our rights.

  8. marty says:

    Liked it Tom. Didn’t know you were into golf.

  9. WOLF says:

    Mishele’s waterspout conder surpasses Catty shack Danny Noonan lip hanging birdy that eventually falls in f after bill Murray Dynamiting the gopher.

  10. Steve says:

    My kind of golf . Shoot a good round and shoot the bad guys.

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