Chapter OneFRAME OF MIND: THE QUANTUM WORLD
The shiny corporate Lear jet squealed as it landed and skidded toward a cornfield at the extreme end of the short runway. At the last second just before ten rows of corn were harvested early, the pilot was able to slow the plane sufficiently to turn to the side and then back to what passed for a hangar in the little airport.
John Smith called heartily to his two-person crew,
"Told you we'd make it."
Waiting beside the hangar was an old yellow Chevy in excellent condition, the words FAIRFIELD TAXI stenciled in red across its front doors.
As Smith climbed down from the plane he muttered under his breath. "Only transportation in town is this one-horse taxi service. Whoever heard of this place, anyway?"
He got into the cab. The driver was a red-haired woman. She turned her fiery head and gave him a homey smile. "Where to?"
The golf club, Smith commanded.
She revved the engine. "Which one?"
He sneered. "You mean there's more than one?"
"There are three here in Fairfield." she said in a bored voice. "Take your pick."
Smith glared at her. He growled, "I want Linc St Clair."
"Oh. Do you want to go to his home or the club?"
"The club," Smith said, "but" - he paused - "drive past his home first." He'd found it a useful technique in judging a person to appraise his home before meeting him. He leaned back against the vinyl car seat as they passed fields of corn alternating with soybeans and farm houses whose weathered barns were surrounded by mud yards that were universally populated with pigs - or were they hogs? Smith wondered what the difference was. Whatever they were, the creatures were omnipresent and Iowa was a far cry from Manhattan.
The taxi pulled onto the side of the road. Tall trees led up a hill where centennial oaks allowed only glimpses of a large brick house Smith could just make out its general shape and some of its Victorian wooden trim.
"There it is," nodded the driver
"Uh, can't we get a closer look?"
She eyed Smith in her rearview mirror. "Yeah, I suppose so? She swung the steering wheel to the right. Slowly they climbed the shaded path; as the house came into full view, they eased to a stop.
"That's as close as I'm goin'. Mr. Linc lives out here for his privacy."
There were two large dogs on the porch. The more grizzled of the two rose lazily and ambled down wide stone steps to check out the newcomers. As it neared the car, it barked dutifully.
In a frantic fanning of feathers, a peacock flew from an overhanging branch and landed lightly on the hood of the taxi. It spread its tail in glorious display. Smith stared. A strange gobbling noise broke his concentration. Three fantailed turkeys waddled noisily down the lane, the younger dog trotting behind them. He stopped beside his pal. The dogs peered interestedly into the car.
Smith looked down at them. After a moment he said, "We might as well go to the club." Was this St. Clair guy a farmer or a zookeeper? Smith's hopes for his lessons were not high.
"Okay, mister. It's your trip," the redhead said as she looked over her shoulder and backed down the lane to the highway.
Smith sat in silence. What kind of a golf professional was this Linc St. Clair?
The approach to the Royal Master's Golf Club was bordered in lush flowering bushes. The fieldstone clubhouse, with its expensive glazed green tile roof was reminiscent of an English country manor. The country house theme was repeated indoors with rich mahogany furnishings and elegant oriental carpeting.
Smith whistled tunelessly. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto."
Behind a marble-topped front desk sat a young man with very wavy hair. "How can I help you, sir"?
"Smith regained command. "I just flew in from New York to take a lesson from your Mr. St. Clair," he said.
"Oh, I'm very sorry, sir, you should have called." The man shrugged apologetically. "You see, he's booked for the next four and a half years."
"What?" Smith's eyes popped. "Four and a half years!" His jaw thrust forward aggressively. "Look here, young man. I want to speak to the manager. You tell him John Paul Smith is here."
"The Mr. John Paul Smith?" Smith heard the familiar tone of recognition and awe in the young man's voice.
"In the flesh."
"All right! Yes, sir!" the young man replied, and rushed through an oak-paneled door directly behind the counter.
Smith's cheeks were flushed. I should have asked to speak to the manager first, he thought. You can only accomplish what you want by going to the top.
A large, pleasant-faced man appeared behind the front desk. "Can I help you, Mr. Smith?" His tone was benign. "My name is Jim Smilek. I'm the manager here."
"See here, Smilek, I came all the way from New York to get a lesson from your Mr. St. Clair. I'd like you to arrange it." Smith slowly withdrew five crisp one hundred-dollar bills, one after the other from his billfold and set them on the edge of the desk.
The manager spread his hands in an expansive gesture of apology. "I'm very sorry, sir, but I can't accept your generous tip. Mr. St. Clair really is booked up."
Just then the young curly-haired man joined his boss behind the counter. "Mr. Smilek, wait," he said. "We've just had a cancellation. Mr. Finley broke his leg and can't come."
"Well," replied Mr. Smilek, "that's extraordinary, Mr. Smith. We don't keep a set waiting list here. If there's a cancellation it's first come, first served."
Mr. Smith seized the moment. "Good," he said. "It's about time." With one hand he scooped the bills off the counter and stuffed them into his pocket. "When can we get this lesson going? I have to be back in New York tonight. "
"Oh," said the manager. "Perhaps you weren't informed. Mr. St. Clair only takes students for a minimum one-week series of lessons. That way he can give his full attention to his students as well as to the management of his farm."
"The guy's a farmer, eh? Is he any good?" Smith queried.
"Yes," the manager replied. "He is one of the most successful farmers in the county. He also has Sika deer, peacocks, llamas, endurance Arabians, and Peruvian Paso Finos, and he raises the finest Morgan horses in the Midwest."
Smith's mouth, which had dropped during the manager's recitation, closed. He was for once speechless. He shook his head abruptly like a dog bothered by flies.
"Now, Mr. Smith, to get back to your lesson," the manager added smoothly. "Please let us know if the week-long lesson will be convenient for you. Mr. Jones asked me to call him immediately if there was a cancellation. "
"Jones, eh?" Smith's competitive juices immediately began flowing. "Well, I'm certainly not going to let him have this spot. I'll take it."
"Very good," the manager said and extended a dark green, gold-embossed register for him to sign. Besides space for the usual information, Smith noticed a line on which he was to record his golf handicap. For a brief moment he considered lying, then he scrawled the correct figure on the appropriate line and tossed the pen aside.
"So," he said, rubbing his hands together, "when do I meet this Mr. St. Clair? I want to get started."
"He's at the range now. Why don't we go on out?" Smilek indicated a driving range that lay outside beyond a set of tall French doors.
Smith began to follow but then stopped abruptly. "Oh, I'll need to buy a new set of clubs."
"No problem," Smilek said amiably. "Let's go into the pro shop." They walked a few feet off the lobby into a plush, well-stocked golf shop.
"We have a variety here-Taylor, Ping, MacGregor, Wilson, Slotline, some of the new Japanese clubs ... You can choose any of them. It's all included."
For the first time since he had entered the building, Mr. Smith smiled. He pointed to a set of expensive clubs and a handmade bag of soft, dark leather. "I'll try these new graphites," he said cheerfully, slapping the manager on his broad back. "Let's go."
They walked out the back door of the clubhouse, the manager shouldering Smith's new clubs. They followed a winding path of crushed white shell through a bed of antique roses.
Not bad, Smith thought, for Iowa. Beyond the garden lay a large, beautifully tended practice green for putting. He noticed that each hole had its own miniature pin consisting of a small green and white flag waving crisply from a polished brass pole. As they walked toward the driving range, they could hear a heavy, regular, thudding sound.
"What's that banging?" Smith asked.
"Oh," the manager replied nonchalantly, "that must be Mr. St. Clair hitting balls."
Smith looked at him sharply. That noise was loud. They passed through an imposing yow hedge that separated the putting green from the driving range and his eye was caught by the sheer energy of a ball in flight. It arced high toward an expanse of lush grass unfolding for several hundred yards like an emerald carpet broken only by staggered white distance markers. Beyond that lay a view of undulating hills shaded here and there with stands of giant oak rich in their summer foliage.
At the range, with his driver poised back over his left shoulder, his back arched, and his right foot lightly balanced on the toes was the compact, sturdy figure of Linc St. Clair.
The man seemed unusually well formed and balanced, Smith thought, as if nature had decided for once to allot a human being perfect proportions. He filed the impression.
The teacher turned to them. His skin was a rosy, healthy bronze, and his blue eyes radiated a vast reserve of energy that Smith had recognized before in people who were brilliantly successful: those who were not only intelligent but able to act coherently with their intelligence, bringing themselves almost unlimited success at whatever they touched. Smith wondered if a man who had chosen to be a farmer and live as a golf professional in what appeared to be a virtual backwater could be such a phenomenon.
Okay, he thought, he'd reserve judgment on that one. He was perplexed by the man's age though. This fellow could be anything from twenty-five to sixty-three. He was either prematurely gray or extremely well preserved.
As they came closer Smith could see St. Clair was using his driver and seemed to be aiming at a 300-yard sign. The ball flew like a missile and slammed into the metal sign, falling directly to the ground beneath and adding to a mound of some thirty other balls. Smith's mind fought with his eyes.
The manager introduced them. "Mr. St. Clair, this is your new student, Mr. John Smith."
Linc St. Clair gave a wide smile and promptly extended his hand. "How nice to meet you," he said.
Smilek continued, "Mr. Finley had an unfortunate accident and was unable to make it. Mr. Smith would like to fill in for him. He is an amateur from New York with a handicap of ..." The manager's voice diplomatically dropped out of hearing.
Smith frowned. He said briskly, "Let's get started, shall we?"
"Why don't you show me your swing, Mr. Smith?" St. Clair suggested.
The manager handed Smith the brilliant new clubs and Smith selected a metal driver. After plucking a range ball from a nearby bucket, he went through his procedure of setting up to the ball. After a few waggles of the club, he whacked the ball soundly. The ball flew straight and then curved to the right, landing nearly 175 yards out into the verdant grass.
Smith's face strained. "It's my right side again," he said. "I just can't seem to release." A muscle in his jaw twitched. "I just can't hit very far. When I play with my friends they always outdrive me. Frankly, I find it humiliating"-he gave the pro a steely glance-"and I want something done about it."
"Maybe we should start from the beginning," Linc said as he pulled a seven iron from the bag and handed it to him. "Warm up with this, it's easier than a driver."
Except for the clear call of birds, there was quiet in the fields around them. Mr. Smith gripped the seven iron and began to hit ball after ball. The shots scattered out in front of the 150-yard marker. St. Clair motioned for him to stop. The teacher's eyes crinkled into a smile. "In its essence," he said, "golf is a simple game."
Smith's attempt to laugh burst from his mouth like the bark of a crazed Doberman.
"You're trying too hard," St. Clair said. "Everything r.
Looks good as far as your technique and fundamentals go, but you're not allowing yourself to swing naturally."
Smith pulled a linen handkerchief from his hip pocket and wiped his face.
"Let's use the image of dancing," Linc said. "When you learned to dance you started first by learning the steps."
"Yeah?" Smith said, partially in agreement and partially in impatience.
"After a while," Linc continued, "you had familiarized yourself with the basic moves, and you didn't have to pay attention to them anymore; you just needed to listen to the rhythm of the music."
His pupil's jaw jutted forward. "That's true."
"If you had been continually concerned about the steps, you would never be able to dance very well."
Again Smith had to agree.
"And if you were paying attention to your feet, you'd be stiff and jerky, out of rhythm."
"I guess ..." Smith's thoughts twined together, and on that thread he climbed mentally to relatively pleasant memories of the dance floor.
"When you dance well, you're in tune with the music. There's no thought about the steps, you're only aware of flowing with the rhythm."
"Okay," Linc said. "It's the same with a golf swing. After you've familiarized yourself with the basics of classical golf, you have to stop putting your attention on the steps. Your emphasis must be on the flow, on the rhythm of your swing."
Smith felt that St. Clair was minimizing his problem, and told him so. "You make it sound pretty easy."
"It is. Flow and feeling are the glue that sticks everything together. They make the whole of your swing bigger than the sum of its parts. When you swing correctly, it is totally effortless and natural. It shouldn't tire you out to play golf," he said. "Every time you swing, instead of losing energy, you should gain it. After all, the real reason we play golf is because of the happiness we get from it, isn't that right?"
Smith looked at him, not comprehending.
St. Clair's blue eyes were mischievous as he asked, "Would you mind taking out your favorite club?"
"Favorite club? All right, that would be my three wood. I always hit well with that. I dunno why, but I can hit off the fairway perfectly with this baby. Well"- Smith qualified his boldness-"almost perfectly. Now and then I make a mistake -but no big deal."
"I see," remarked St. Clair.
Smith reached for his three wood and quickly set up to the ball. He proceeded to hit a smooth 210-yard draw. Teacher and pupil stared after it.
Smith looked hopefully toward his mentor. After a moment of silence,
St. Clair said, "That's very good.