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Funerals, Weddings, and Golf

The preacher said it is ok!  He said everyone grieves in different ways, so it is best to just be yourself.  I started a custom of playing tribute rounds of golf when someone close to me would leave this earth.  Sometimes things would happen during the round that I would attribute to Divine Intervention.  How else could you explain three topped shots (not normal) ending up as birdie putts (also not normal)?  My Father-in-law Edward Schmalriede was a good man with seven kids, one of which I snagged and held onto for 35 years. He was a farmer and didn’t play golf. In fact I think he called it “goofball” in which I am only assuming he was talking about the game and not me!  But I feel at home on the course and when I play one of these tributes I seem to reach a Zen like state of which I am almost completely relaxed. During these times I seem to play some outstanding golf with this “I could care less” attitude. I can’t seem to channel this emotion at any other time.  Aside from the topped shots I was making putts from everywhere. I even beat my arch nemesis hole at Twin Rivers where my drive went right down the middle and long (a first).  I tried to play a second tribute at a new course but it was not the same. The feeling was just not right. Yeah I hit a ball to one foot on a par three, but I knew it was a good shot when I hit it. It didn’t bounce off a turtles back, careen off a rock wall, then ricochet off a tree and then stop a foot from the hole, that would have been unexplained.  By the way, a wise old man once told me that a ball hit to a few inches on a par three is a great shot, but a hole in one is just luck. I don’t have any!

I played when my grandmothers died and again it seemed to ease the pain. I played alone and had the time to reflect on all the good times and good things about them when they were still around.  When my friend Donnie Van Meter died in a car wreck I wrote a column and ask him to reserve a Tee Time for us on one of the nicer courses in heaven (Hey, there are different courses for different skill levels, trust me on this one!).  Donnie Snider was another friend where I felt I owed it to him to go out and have a round dedicated to him; he would actually appreciate the gesture.

The first time I dedicated a round was when my uncle Dick Porter died and I was pretty upset. He loved to golf but he wasn’t very good. His goal was to break 100 but he never did. I decided I was going to beak 100 for him…LEFT HANDED.  Now a couple of months before, me and my big mouth had got into a contest of words where I told one of my friends Dennis Ward, that I could even beat him left handed. He said that could be arranged and I knew I was in trouble. I went to a flea market and found a set of lefties for $50 and started practicing, just in case. I shot 56 twice on nine holes. Looks like my Birddog bark had overloaded my Chihuahua bite.

I thought this dedication would be a fair test so I went to Moody, TX and played Greenbrier. It wasn’t always pretty but I scratched out a 45 on the easier front side. Another friend of mine was playing with me (Todd “I never lost a ball in the woods” Livingston). I ask him what he would do if I beat him and he mumbled something about giving up golf. I kept advancing the ball and holding my own until we were on 14, a long carry over water. Oh well I have some strokes built up just for this. I hit a driver and boy did I hit a driver! It was hit as well as any I had ever hit right-handed.  Devine intervention? I don’t think it was me! I finished out the round and added them up. I had shot a 90, that’s right 90! I went into the clubhouse and was bragging about my 90. Members came up and said, “that is not very good for you”, and then I told them I did it left-handed! They ask why would I do that and I said, “because I can”! Thanks Uncle Dick.

Now for a little about weddings. I played with my good friend David Brown, the day of both of his boy’s weddings (Plum Creek and Greenbrier). We just had to make sure to get though early. Now that my daughter is tying the knot I was thinking yeah, do it! But all of a sudden, as the date approaches, I find that I am unsettled, anxious, nervous, unfocussed, too quick, too fast. There is no calming effect, no easiness, and no smooth, pretty swing.  Break a 100, I don’t think so! Hmmmm… maybe I should go ahead and play Left Handed.

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