“Keep your left arm straight…”
“Avoid the creek running down the right side of the fairway…”
“How did I three-putt from twelve feet last hole…?!”
“Is the beverage cart EVER going to circle back…?”
Golf is a mental game and the only outlet to maintain any level of competitiveness now that I am an old, washed up, former athlete. As I have grown older, I’ve become more patient and mature and limited on-course temper tantrums. I am more reasonable what to expect of myself during each round and don’t leave the course ashamed if I fail to break the course record… or 80. I am not able to hit the ball as far as I used to and am often far behind others in my foursome. But I am able to manage each hole in a creative manner, get up-and-down, or be satisfied with bogey instead of trying to make a hero recovery shot. I try to avoid calculating my score in my head during the round, and am often pleasantly surprised with how it adds up at the end of eighteen.
Believe it or not, I have blogged more recently than I have golf, which doesn’t say much for my recent social commentary or athletic endeavors. Weekends in October were full of fresh air, scenery, and travel, working my way along the California coastline from Santa Barbara to Malibu to San Diego. Meanwhile, following the Cubs march through October has caused many stressful, sleepless nights and harmed whatever healthy lifestyle I might have been aiming for.
While the clubs may not yet be put away for the season, I failed to play during the month of October because of my weekend travels. There were plenty of highlights during the season that featured rounds played in four different states. Early in the season during Brothers Weekend, Case surfed the earth while I enjoyed the unique experience of a caddie carrying my clubs at Tustin Ranch. Politics aside, I scored two rounds for discounted rates at beautiful Trump National where the course zig zag along the coast with views all the way to Catalina Island. The splendor of the course is slightly distracting from the task at hand, where off-target shots are penalized in native fescue. Turning over private email is encouraged but not required when paying green fees.
There was a foolish, impromptu trip to Palm Springs, where I capitalized on low rates thanks to temperatures over 100° and played through 36 holes and two outfits. Another foolhardy endeavor was driving through the desert for a family rendezvous in Arizona where we played three rounds of 18 at some great courses at discounted prices, because who is silly enough to visit the desert for Labor Day weekend? I took a turn to visit Case in Colorado where we blasted tee shots at high altitude, avoided raindrops, and thoroughly enjoyed a favorite course from our youth. Vacationing to Colorado and Arizona reminds me of time spent with our grandparents, which I’ll speak more to shortly.
Most of my “local” rounds are played about 50 miles from Long Beach in Corona. There is a variety of courses, many of which showcase extreme elevation change and beautiful scenery. Some of the courses are virtually carved into he side of a mountain. My favorite track is called Glen Ivy, where I have played some of my best rounds since moving. The most recent of which was a work function I uncomfortably accepted, but started on the right foot with a birdie on the straightforward first hole. I stood on the 9th tee-box needing to make par to “shoot my age” on the front nine and dumped my tee shot into the water. It was a similar story on 18 where I was in the middle of the fairway needing only par to shoot even par 72. I crumbled under the pressure, rinsed another Titleist in the green side water hazard and limped off to my car with a “disappointing” 74. It was one of my best rounds ever, and one my grandpa would have been proud of.
Speaking of grandpa and traveling to suburban Phoenix over winter break to visit, or participating with Boompa in a father/son golf event, or recalling time spent around the table at Thanksgiving, one of my lasting memories of grandpa was how much he reminded me of Arnold Palmer. I wasn’t old enough to know or appreciate Mr. Palmer’s talents as a golfer in his prime. I do remember seeing highlights of The King and thinking he was just like Grandpa Burt; handsome, natural, athletic, generous, thoughtful, friendly. Someone who made great impact and lasting impression on everyone he touched.
Another month, another singular blog entry. There is far more traffic on a desolate country highway than into this corner of the internet, but the streak continues of at least making one entry every month since moving. Perhaps November and December will bring more material as I grow more nostalgic and emotional, counting down to two years living away from Home.
Arnold Daniel Palmer (September 10, 1929 – September 25, 2016) was an American professional golfer who is generally regarded as one of the greatest players in the sport’s history. Dating back to 1955, he won numerous events on both the PGA Tour and the circuit now known as PGA Tour Champions. Nicknamed The King, he was one of golf’s most popular stars and its most important trailblazer, the first superstar of the sport’s television age, which began in the 1950s.
Palmer’s social impact on behalf of golf was perhaps unrivaled among fellow professionals; his humble background and plain-spoken popularity helped change the perception of golf as an elite, upper-class pastime to a more populist sport accessible to middle and working classes. Palmer was part of “The Big Three” in golf during the 1960s, along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, who are widely credited with popularizing and commercializing the sport around the world.
In a career that spanned more than six decades, he won 62 PGA Tour titles from 1955 to 1973, placing him at that time behind only Sam Snead and Ben Hogan, and still fifth on the Tour’s all-time victory list. He collected seven major titles in a six-plus-year domination, from the 1958 Masters to the 1964 Masters. He also won the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998, and in 1974 was one of the 13 original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
No one did more to popularize the sport than Palmer,” according to Adam Schupak of Golf Week. “His dashing presence single-handedly took golf out of the country clubs and into the mainstream. Quite simply, he made golf cool.”
According to Arnold Palmer, he was in the habit of drinking iced tea with lemonade at home, and in 1960 at the U.S. Open at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, he ordered the non-alcoholic drink at the bar. A woman sitting nearby overheard him, and ordered “that Palmer drink”, thus giving the beverage its name. Palmer preferred three parts unsweetened tea, to one part lemonade, but when mixed equal parts tea and lemonade, the drink is sometimes called a Half & Half.
When Palmer visited the Latrobe Country Club in his hometown, the staff at the snack shack served the beverage to him or his wife, Kit, without prompting. “Mr. Palmer should never have to order the drink named after him.