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Entry date: 4-15-2022 - Hit the Links (or be hit by them) - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

It’s so nice to have a day off. Today I plan on playing some golf and putzing around. A good word, “Putzing,” don’t you think?

I first played golf when I was in my 20s. I had always been interested in it. My dad played when I was a kid and even worked for a golf company when I was very young and he needed a break from outdoor advertising. I should probably ask him about that time a bit more. I could be totally misremembering it. I think it was called Custom Golf.

I would go with him, occasionally, and ride around in the cart. I liked that. The game made sense to me, but I never played. My grandfather, Tom, was a scratch golfer, which means that he didn’t have a handicap, until he broke his back. I realize how ironic that sounds after writing it. He broke his back in a car accident when he was 21. A pilot in the Army Air Corp, my grandfather liked to go fast and one day he drove way too fast on an icy road and, well, you get the picture.

Papa, as I called him when I was little, kept golfing until his back eventually said, nope. You’re done. He even made himself a sort of a golf cart. He called it Golfer Goggin’s Galloping Go-Birdie. A picture of it once existed. I hope someone in my family still has the picture. I certainly don’t.

When my cousin Ben started getting an interest in golfing, I figured I would take the plunge, too, and got some clubs. My grandfather used to give us lessons in the front yard of the house they bought when they moved back to Phoenix in 1996 to be near Ryan. Ben and I played a lot with our uncle, Joe, and other friends of ours there for a while in the mid-to-late 90s. I definitely developed a feel for the game and really enjoyed spending time on the course.

In the summer, in those days, you could play for super cheap around town. The course closest to where we live now, Palo Verde, on 15th avenue and Maryland (or Rose Lane, really) was $5, play as much as you want, in the summer. When I was working for Casa, early on, and basically had summers off, I would go play first thing in the morning and go around twice before heading to the office. 18 holes for $5 was a deal.

As time went by, though, and Ben and I got busier with our lives and marriages and kids and such, we stopped playing. I started going years at a time without playing. Every once in a while, I would join our friends, Teresa and Johnny for a round and be reminded of how much I loved it but finding the time to get out on the course was tougher and tougher. There have been some memorable days, though.

In the last year, I started playing regularly again. My friend, Jake, has a good group of folks that includes his partner, Maribeth, and my friends Yoyo, Alex, and Nichol and newer friends, too. They play all the time, so it was easy for me to get hooked again while Rhondi was in Maine. My buddy, Rick, is also an avid golfer, and we have been out quite a bit. We played in Rangeley on my birthday which was a great time. I can’t wait to play that course again this summer. I’m sure it will be a lot more fun when it is not 40 degrees outside and windy.

Rick and I joked while we were playing that day that the course could have been the subject of a Stephen King story. It was kind of a homemade thing on the side of a mountain. It played really well, but there were tons of trees, and we lost a lot of balls. There was hardly anyone else out there, so we could take our time looking for the lost balls. We would find a ton of other balls, but rarely the one we were looking for at that point.

There is another course almost right across the street from my father-in-law’s house there that I have yet to play. Rhondi scored me a decent set of clubs for $25, pull cart included, that I took on a maiden voyage in October. Now I have no excuse not to play Mingo Springs, which is the one that is so close by. There are three, I think, within a half hour of where I’ll be for most of June and July, so I’ll get to hit some east coast balls.

One time I went for a run by the golf course and didn’t turn left when I was supposed to and ended up on an eight-mile run/walk from hell. I didn’t take my cellphone with me because it was just supposed to be about two miles, so no one knew where I was for about two hours. We laugh about it now, but it was harsh. I was sweating and my shirt was soaked. By the time I got back to Doug’s my nipples were raw from the wind.

I seriously hope you are laughing about that visual. They hurt for days. When I mentioned it to Rhondi she just about fell out of her chair. It will come up again this summer, at some point, I’m sure. People in Maine love a good laugh. I earned a beer that day, for sure, but every time I think about going for a jog in Maine, I think better of it.

I also know may way around a lot better now, too. If you’re going to get lost, it isn’t terrible to get lost on or near a golf course, I suppose. I highly recommend the game, but it is super humbling. I have had some really tough days out there on the course, especially in the last six months as I realize that my coordination is not what it once was when I was younger.

But even those tough days are still pretty rad.

See you tomorrow.

Selfie by Rick. What a fun day!

Tom S. and I came up with a new metal genre: Golf Rock. It's coming soon.

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