Blessings Are Many for This Old Duffer
I was just sitting here gathering nerve for the eye surgery on Thursday when I thought it might be a good time to count my blessings.
Yeah, this old duffer has had a few.
Anyone who knows me understands that my mood reflects the quality of my golf game. So, yeah, I’m in a pretty rotten frame of mind most of the time.
Actually, I have this love-hate relationship with the game. I love the game, it hates me. Kind of reminds me of the object of my affections my sophomore year in high school. But that’s a double bogey of a different story.
I often wonder what my life would have been without golf. I can’t imagine it. Although I didn’t play my first round until I was 19 years old, I haven’t missed many opportunities since.
The first round was played on L.B. Floyd’s Green Valley Country Club in Fayetteville. I don’t have a clue what I shot that spring day with a borrowed set of Sam Snead beginner clubs, but I do know my companion, Grisson Bain, and I quit after nine holes and went home. It was a nine-hole course, and we didn’t realize you were supposed to play it twice. We didn’t even realize you shouldn’t be playing out of the same bag.
Beginning in 1956, I figure I played an average of two rounds a week for the next 20 years. That amounts to something like 2,080 rounds. Since then, I must have averaged three rounds a week. That’s 34 years and an estimate of 5,304 rounds, if my figuring is correct.
Uh-oh. Hope the BW doesn’t read this. Is it really 7,384 rounds? Wow, I’m not about to break that down into dollars spent on the game. No wonder my savings never amounted to very much. And no wonder I find myself writing columns at midnight.
I can’t begin to count the number of courses I’ve played over the 54 years. In retrospect, I wish I had kept a log, but who knew?
As a member of the North Carolina Golf Panel, I’ve played the best golf courses in North Carolina. Most of them more than once.
As a member of the Golf Writer’s Association of America, I played most of the great courses in South Carolina. I’ve played in Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Texas and Georgia.
I’ve played the great courses of Ireland, played in the Bahamas, in Aruba, in Canada and in South Africa. If I had a dollar for every bogey I’ve made, I could retire again.
I’ve hit balls into a cemetery at Ballybunion, eaten ostrich eggs before teeing off and then watched two baboons mate on a tee in South Africa. I’ve been seriously warned to not hunt a ball in the trees bordering a fairway in the Bahamas.
I’ve played with a guy in South Carolina who tried to strangle one of our companions and watched another guy snap the shaft of every club in his bag (and that isn’t easy when you’re playing with graphites).
I’ve had a hole-in-one at the old Tropicana Club in Las Vegas and another at my favorite course in the world, Gates Four. I’ve twice holed fairway woods for double eagles on par-5 holes, both in captain’s choice tournaments and not using my tee shot either time.
I’ve made five birdies in a round twice and shot 69 and 70, but neither of those rounds was of recent vintage.
Some of the most enjoyable moments on a golf course have come while playing with the BW and our oldest granddaughter, Taylor. Nothing is more fun than watching a kid learn the joys of the game.
Almost all my friends have been made through golf. My job for the past 13 years has been writing solely about golf. My late and beloved mother-in-law, Jewel Coupland, used to kid me that I was the only person she knew who made a living pursuing his hobby.
So, yeah, I’ve been lucky. Too bad I was never very good. But you know what? I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed the journey any more if I was breaking par every time out.
Now it’s time to start thinking about that eye surgery. Here’s hoping that Dr. Shuler is on his game.
Contact Howard Ward at (910) 867-6493 or (910) 690-2211 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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