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Original Issue

My Shot MJ aced me out for Top Nut in 1989, but this season Arnie's going to help me win

While the tour players are battling to make the top 125 on the
money list, I'm fighting for something much more difficult to
attain: the 2001 Golf Nut of the Year award. I've been a member
of the Golf Nuts Society since the late 1980s and have never
been Top Nut, although I came close in 1989, when I finished
behind Michael Jordan, who edged me out by building a six-hole
putting green in his basement. (No fair! I don't have a
basement.) This year, however, I think I've got a shot. With 2
1/2 months left in the season, I'm in second place. So far I've
received points for having played golf at night at every course
on California's Monterey Peninsula, for quitting my job as the
manager of the peninsula's chamber of commerce to become a
caddie at Pebble Beach, and for hitting a shot in all six states
in New England in a single day.

My biggest claim to fame--in the eyes of the 2,800-member Golf
Nuts Society, anyway--is the care and nurturing I've given
Arnie, as I call a divot made by Arnold Palmer more than two
years ago at Pebble Beach. I took possession of Arnie in June
1999, when I had the honor of caddying for the King. After he
stiffed a 146-yard seven-iron shot on the 18th hole, I stuffed
his divot into my pocket, brought it home and replanted it.

I'm very protective of Arnie. I move him daily from my living
room, which gets morning sun, to a ledge in my home office that
gets afternoon light. I also water him every day, feed him
Miracle-Gro and trim him with my mustache clippers. When it's
cloudy in Monterey, I drive Arnie five miles to Carmel Valley to
get some sun while I hit balls at a range.

I'm not simply riding Arnie's coattails, though. I've also
written You Play the Blues, I'll Hum Along, a collection of
short stories about caddying at Pebble Beach. The Pacific
Repertory Theatre in Carmel is thinking about turning my prose
into a play. That would surely put me over the top in the race
for Golf Nut of the Year.

Scott Houston, 50, of Pacific Grove, Calif., has a seven