More Beginnings

As For Me

Golf was always around. My maternal grandfather adored the game. An engineer who, when I knew him, was coming to the end of his long career with General Electric at the Knolls Atomic Power lab in Schenectady, New York. Granddad played at the Edison Club. We belonged to the Mohawk Club, so that was Dad’s course. And Great Uncle Newt belonged to a club over in Albany. The men usually played 18 holes on Saturdays. Somewhere there is a photo as a four-year-old wielding an big, red plastic toy driver on my grandparent’s lawn. Walking the course with Dad and Granddad when I was six, I was fascinated by the red ball and green washers, and the rain shelter among the pine trees on the back nine.

Mom didn’t take up golf in a big way until she and Dad moved to a small town on Connecticut’s gold coast. This was the summer before I left for college in Boston. The country club they joined had a nine-hole course that I saw from the train window when I cam home on holidays. Dad bought Mom a set of Sounder clubs and Mom played in the women’s league. When Dad bought Mom her next set of clubs (Pings) in the late ’80s, I asked for the Sounders and started to play. Part of the game’s appeal was wearing shoes with metal spikes and the sound I made walking across the parking lot.

Another appealing aspect of the game was hitting something repeatedly with a club.

Sophomore

Sophomore. From the Greek. Sophos = wise. Moros = stupid

Sophomore year of college, I met Carla. At first, I didn’t know what to make of her blond good looks, and cheerful disposition (I was in a dark and moody suffering artist phase at the time), but by mid-term had discovered she was a potent combination of badass funny and wicked smart. And she had a car. And liked to go places. Like ski houses in Vermont. And vacation houses on Cape Cod. And golf courses on Sea Island. And the Harvard football teams’ dorm after curfew. That was my wise/stupid year.

Around the time Mom was giving me her set of Sounder clubs, Carla was buying her house next to the cranberry bog on Cape Cod. In her backyard she hung a hammock between two trees. She also set up a net to hit golf balls into. One weekend I drove to Carla’s with my clubs, and she taught me what to do. Let the club do the work. Tempo. Keep your head still.  I hit balls into her net with my 7 iron, and then we went to play at Cranberry Valley. No one care how you play as long as keep moving, she told me. She showed me how to tend the pin and put the cart in reverse.

My wise/stupid year was forty years ago. Carla and I usually play at Cranberry Valley or Fresh Pond. About ten years ago we played Highland Links. Built in 1892 on bluffs overlooking the ocean, with deep, natural roughs of heather, and open fairways Highland Links is as close as you can get to a traditional Scottish style links course on this side of the Atlantic. Last week we played at a new course, Shaker Hills.  May we all find lifelong friends in our wise/stupid years.

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