Not far at all from Socorro, N.M., is that weird place called the Very Large Array. If you've seen Jodie Foster in the movie "Contact," you've seen what I'm talking about.
Dozens of satellite dish looking things, reaching out to make contact with whatever or whomever or whoever (if whomever was the wrong word). Anyway, aliens. We almost went out to the Very Large Array. Mostly to talk about that really long speech Jodie Foster gave at that one awards show. But it would have been a long drive. And we had just completed a really, really long golf hole.
Since 1960, on "M" mountain in Socorro, a handful of brave men have challenged the mountain and themselves and hiked about 7,500 feet down and a total of 2.5 miles to play a single hole of golf. There's no hole, really. After 2.5 miles no one cares about actually making a golf ball go in a hole. Anyone who completes the 2.5-mile hellish walk in 100 degree heat just wants more water and then a shower … and possibly rattlesnake venom antidote. There are snakes up on that mountain, and many cactus needles. A full three months after successfully making it down the mountain (with just two lost balls!), I pulled a cactus needle out of my calf. Hurt like hell pulling it out, but it seemed like the right time. While a very average golfer, once in a while I strike a ball well and on the flats I've approached 300 yards with the aid of wind or a good bounce. Atop "M" mountain I opened with a 650-yard drive. Nearly two miles in the sky, I was helped by the thin air and the fact the tee box was a steep cliff, which helps. How nice it was to have people say, "He is very long."
For $100 each I paid a guy named Robert and a girl, whose name I can't recall, to act as my spotters. I could look up her name, but I'd rather pull another cactus needle out of my leg. Spotters were a very necessary part of the project because once I hit my ball there wasn't a chance in the world of finding it. M mountain was covered in cacti and brush. Day-Glo balls were a must to have any shot of making it to the finish with at least one of the 10 balls given each player at the start. The rules were simple: Count up strokes and count up lost balls. There is your score. Somehow I made it home with a 19, which is like a par as far as I'm concerned. I tied well-known golfer and golf scribe, Rick Reilly, who played the same hole years before.
I mentioned this on Twitter but he didn't respond to me (SMH). The terrain was unforgiving. The heat was hot. It was without question the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life, except for finishing my Wider World of Sports expense reports, which were due Sept. 30. You can't meet every goal, but I met mine that day in Socorro, N.M. I didn't die.