Funny stories in under 500 words.

Par for the Course

So a guy talks to a wise bear on a golf course, and learns a valuable lesson. This funny story was written by John McCaffrey, who is originally from Rochester, New York. John attended Villanova University and received his M.A. in Creative Writing from the City College of New York. His stories, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous literary journals, magazines and newspapers. He is the author of two published books: The Book of Ash, a science fiction novel, and the short story collection Two Syllable Men. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Playing golf one day, I hooked a tee shot into the woods. Hopeful to hit out and avoid a penalty stroke, I ventured into the mix of brush and trees. About twenty steps in I spied, sitting next to my ball, a large bear. He leaned back and scratched at his genitals, revealing to me his masculinity.

“I gather you’re playing a Titleist?”

Not only was I surprised by the bear’s capacity to speak, but his speaking manner as well, his words enunciated like an uptight English professor.

“Yes. That must be mine.”

“You nearly beaned me,” he said, standing up on his hind legs.

“I’m sorry.”

“Are you?”

I didn’t like the way he presumed I wasn’t. But because he was a bear, capable of snapping my neck with a swat of his paw, I dropped any thought of pressing the point and asked him to toss me my ball.

“You’re not going to hit out?”

“Too many obstructions.”

“A pessimist, I see.”

“More like a realist.”

The bear laughed, causing drool to leak out both sides of his mouth.

“That’s a good one,” he said, regaining his composure.

“What’s so funny?”

“You do realize you’re talking with a wild animal.”


“This doesn’t strike you as unreal?”

“I get where you are going,” I said. “But this encounter does not change my perception of self or my predilection for pragmatism.”

“So you’re also a pragmatist?”

“I’d like to think so.”

“And yet you don’t think you can hit out?”

“It’s an impossible shot.”

The bear peered out at the fairway.

“If I were you,” he said, “I would take a two iron, employ a compact swing, and hit a low screamer between those two birches.”

I looked where he was looking.

“The gap can’t be more than three feet.”

“And the diameter of a golf ball is 1.680 inches. So what’s the problem?”

“My aim, for one.”

“I think you’re scared.”

“Better to drop and lose one stroke than thrash about and lose five.”

“Or you can hit out cleanly and not lose a thing except your cowardice.”

That last dig did it. I pulled a two iron from my bag and stomped over to the ball.

“Please,” I said. “Some room.”

He sidled a few steps to his right, still on two legs.

“Remember,” he whispered. “Keep it low.”

I addressed the ball and swung, watching, elated, as it sailed between the birches and bounded up the fairway.

“Great shot.”

“Thanks. I wouldn’t have done it without you.”

“Glad to help.”

“Well, have a nice day.”

The bear held up a paw.

“I just remembered something.”

“What’s that?”

“Something Isaac Hayes once said: ‘If you enjoy the fragrance of a rose, you must accept the thorns which it bears.’”


More drool spilled from the bear’s mouth.

“I’m going to eat you.”

I threw the club and ran, but unlike my ball, I didn’t make it through the trees.



  1. Ha, ha, very well done!

  2. I don't think the bear would so easily forget his manners like he did at the end if he came up against a Tiger in the Woods.

    That's a mid 2000's Tiger of course, just to clarify.

  3. I had the fortune and pleasure of meeting the author in person once. As sweet and charming as the above story is, the author in real life is Five Hundred times more!