HOWARD WARD: Good Golf, Good Times, Good Friends
Golf stands for Good Old Longtime Friends.
There's no questioning that golf is a great game, a wonderful pastime, a competition between man and nature. But the one thing that really makes it special is that camaraderie that exists between the guys in your favorite foursome. Or, in my case, the Gates Four Gangsome.
I love those guys. They make every day that I can make it out to the golf course a special experience. They're the reason that I pay membership dues and continue to play a game that I have carried on a love-hate relationship with for more than 50 years.
I know that our gangsome isn't anything exclusive. I'm sure that almost every club has a group that convenes for regular matches. I know that these guys are the heart and soul of club membership, and their regular play helps keep courses afloat during tough economic times.
But we aren't talking financial stuff here. We're talking about men who enjoy the game and each other.
Frankly, I'm not sure I would still be playing golf if not for the gangsome. I know I wouldn't be playing three times a week.
We have a special thing going at Gates Four. The club, which is managed by the Dan Maples Co., appreciates our loyalty and designates tee times for us at noon during weekdays. We begin gathering about 11 a.m., often solving many of the world's problems in the hour before teeing off. We dissect the daily financial news, dispute the weather channel's dire forecasts, laugh at some terrible jokes that we've heard a hundred times before, then make up teams and go out and try to cripple each other financially.
Actually, we don't play for much money. The absolute most you can lose is 15 bucks. But it isn't about the money. It's about spending time with each other on the course, griping about the pin placements, comparing the newest drivers and putters that show up in bags that day, and ribbing your buddy when he reaches a par-5 in two shots and walks away with a tough par.
Several of the gangsome members love to keep up with their winnings or losses. I had never done that prior to this year but thought it might be fun. Right now I'm not sure if the fun part is true, though. As of today, I'm $43 down for the year.
Until about five years ago, I was a member of The Foursome. We had a group that had played together since 1982, some of us since 1972. We played on Tuesdays and Fridays. Our only criterion was whether the course was open.
Weather? Who cared? That's why they make warm clothing and rain suits.
But Dr. Putt lost a leg to cancer. Bubba lost his game. Washer became involved in a family situation that severely curtailed his playing. I was left to fend for myself.
That's when I found the Gates Four Gangsome.
So now I tee it up with Ol' Harv, C-Dog, Rudy, W.C., Craze I, Craze II, Jerry, Jack Mac, Hec, Don Ho, La-La, Georgie Boy, Walkie, Talkie, Garo, Lightning, Pete, Dave, J.D., John-John, a couple of Mikes, Ray and occasionally Washer and Bubba.
We have a lot of fun on the course, but we have even more when it comes to paying up in the 19th hole. Believe me, there are millionaires who will shed tears over losing five bucks.
I find it amazing that this many guys, plus a few others who show up at various times, can spend this much time together and never really have any serious problems.
We play in three hours, unless odd numbers force us to play fivesomes, and then it takes us about three and a half hours. And we don't feel rushed. We play ready golf, and it's safe to say that most of us know the yardage from just about anywhere on the course. We ought to; we've played it a few thousand times.
Did I mention that there aren't any young guys in the gangsome? We took a survey recently and the average age of the group is dead.
Contact Howard Ward at 867-6493 or 690-2211 or by e-mail at
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