I love golf…..
I started playing golf on the US Navy Base at Guantanamo (GTMO) Bay Cuba in January 1970. It was my first duty station fresh out of Radioman “A” school. To understand why I started to play golf you need to realize that on GMTO, as a 20 year old, I had very few options for entertainment. I used to say I had 3 choices, Drinking, Swimming and Golf, and after my 1st experience swimming in GTMO Bay (and playing tag with a shark), I choose drinking and playing Golf. Sometimes I actually combined those activities, so sucking at golf wasn’t nearly as bad, when I was half in the bag. Besides at the time, I was a much better drinker, than I was a Golfer. And while my drinking skills remained pretty constant during my Navy career, my golfing skills did improve. LMAO somewhat?!
I remember my 1st time golfing, it was a wonderfully sunny day in the Caribbean Islands, trust me January weather in Cuba is wonderful. I remember hitting the ball, time and time and time again. I remember losing what must have been a dozen balls, but I also remember making one great shot (yes it was indeed pure luck), but it was enough to hook me. After that 1st round of golf, I when directly to the Navy Exchange (the golf course didn’t sell golf clubs), and ordered (rush shipment) a beginners set of clubs. The set included a driver, a 3 wood, 3, 5, 7, 9 irons and a wedge, also included was a “Cash-in” putter. The set a came with a RED bag with 4 pockets. By the way, green fees at the course were about 3 dollars for 18 holes, and 5 if you wanted a riding cart. Even as an E2 I could afford this. I was so hooked, when I started playing, I walked every hole carrying my bag, and I loved it. I would search for lost balls after every shot, because generally mine was lost. But no matter how terribly I was playing, I always managed to do one thing perfectly. It might have been a putt, a drive, an iron over water, a wedge shot that checked up, and stopped inches from the hole. Something so good, that single shot was enough to bring me back the next time. After 3 months, I was done with the beginner set of clubs and was back at the Exchange ordering a complete set of clubs, again rush delivery. I used these clubs for the next 2 years. So in 3 months I had bought 2 sets of clubs. Over the next 38 years of golf I only bought 5 sets of clubs.
I have here on my desk a collection of score cards, from the various places I have played over the years. I have a scorecard from the 1st time my daughter and played together. This was the 1st round of golf she played beyond a putt putt course. On the final hole that day, she sank a 40 foot double bender putt for a par. The only par she ever made to my knowledge, and it was so cool watching her to the chicken dance on the green afterwards. I think she only played golf twice more after this round, and one of those rounds was with me.
I also have the score cards from my best two career rounds. On 6/2/86, I shot a career best 84 (45/39). It was a dreary day, a little rain, a little chill, and slow greens. On the back 9 I had five pars in a row, a feat I never did again. It was the only time in my life I shot 39 or better for nine holes. I also saved the scorecard for my second best round of golf (on the same course) which was in 1987. That day I played in a foursome (3 random guys I met at the 1st tee), the weather was perfect, and I shot an 86 (44/42).
The only other score card of any scoring significance to me is dated 10/29/01. This is the day I got my 1st and only eagle during my golf career. It was on the 2nd hole at Greendale Golf Course, in Alexandria VA, which by the way, is where I scored the 84 and 86 rounds. The second is a 479 par 5. It is a gentle slopping downhill straight away fairway. The green is oval shaped with a bunker along the entire left side. On the right of the green is a mound leading up to the 3rd tee. I had a decent drive, a crappy second shot, leaving me 140 yards to the green, I bounced the ball off the mount onto the green, and it rolled right up to the flag and dropped. I couldn’t have played it better if I tried. I didn’t actually see the ball drop in the cup, but Gary a great friend was standing by the green and witnessed the shot. And of course I had to walk onto the green and retrieve the ball from the cup. That ball now resides, in a place of honor, in my collection of golf balls.
For 40 years golf was a very important part of my life (and still is), I played every chance I had, I planned business trips and vacations around golf. Most of my male friends played golf, and were almost as addicted to the game as I was. I stopped playing golf because of my COPD. It robbed me of my ability to breath, the strength to swing a club affectively, the stamina to play in the heat of the summer. Today I play golf on my XBOX 360, I play Tiger Woods golf, on the XBOX, and I am hell on wheels, and I have won the grand slam of golf, and the FEDEX Cup, and I still manage to play at least once a week.
My clubs sit in their home in my garage. I see them every day and we long to be on the golf course, collecting more memories and more score cards. And while I can’t get out there for real, I can keep my memories, and they only get better with age and imagination. (LOL LOL) Have a great day!