I took a ride with Ted Bowers this morning at the newly reopened Trion Golf Course. He was driving a golf cart out of which we frequently exited to swing at the little white dimpled ball. Some would call it playing golf, but what I did today more closely resembled gardening than any sport.
I could not remember the last time I partook in this activity. There was a golf card in the bag which read “Calhoun Elks Lodge golf course” It was dated 2002, and had the names “Larry”(me) and “Joe”, who was Mr. Joe Sultan…my boss at the time. Since the rubber grips had dry rotted off all the irons in the bag from sitting in my utility room, I figured 14 years was about right. There were 14th generation spiders and cobwebs who were inhabiting that bag and protested loudly when I removed their home, and forcefully ejected them last night. A lot of water, a flood and a torrent has gone under the trestle bridge since these clubs were last used.
My Dad’s playing days had passed when I put those clubs away. I had suffered one heart attack and one stent at that time, and thought I was in good shape. I wasn’t though. I lost my job with Mr. Sultan’s company. A good company and a good job. I still don’t know quite why til this day…but it was a hard blow to me. I went on from there to 12 hour night shifts, constant uncertainty and anxiety, deaths of my parents, major surgery with permanent damage, and overall health decline. It is only since last June, that I began walking my way back to some mobility. I must tell you though my friends, that if I see you out and don’t recognize you, or if I sound uncertain about some past event which I should remember, or some part of our friendship which I should remember and I don’t…please forgive me. My memory is very spotty. Much more so than I let on at times.
However, I did still remember how to swing AT a golf ball. And so we did this morning. It was fun. Some great memories returned to me as we trekked the course. I could picture J.W. Greenwood, my old coach driving the green on number one hole. As I sat there waiting I saw many more men who played there return to life. Jack Shamblin, with his huge all or nothing swing. Harold Florence, who had a low flat swing. Roy Williams Sr., up on his toes at the height of his swing. There was Otis Tanner, with his huge backswing and follow through. Skinny old Faye Brown, who could hit the ball a mile. Tommy Brown, and Jimmy Brown, and Michael Brown…with who me and Daddy played so many rounds. I saw Lamar Chandler on his tractor mowing the fairway. I heard the “Loving Spoonful” in the background playing “Hottown Summer in the city, back of my neck getting very too gritty” My theme song during the two Summers I worked there, mowing ditches and working in the downstairs clubhouse. I’d peep out the doors on Monday mornings during the summer and “Muley” Camp would be out there hunting golf balls. Only on Mondays..Only day it was allowed.
I passed over the creek at number two hole and remembered the dozens upon dozens of yellowjacket stings I had gotten waiting off to the side on one of those Mondays for some guys to play through. I had gotten them all stirred up by poking a stick absentmindedly in the ground. I had to run and jump in the creek to get them off me. Old Doc Clemens had to give me a couple of shots to keep me breathing. Cousin Rick had been standing right next to me and hadn’t gotten one sting. Same cousin Rick who was the only person to see me hang back at my Daddy’s funeral and sob like a baby. Some people always seem to be there at the strangest times.
My Dad, the old lefthander…Same as me, or me the same as him. That’s the way he taught me to swing. He couldn’t hit them long like Jack Shamblin, but always straight and deadly around the greens. I imagined him there today too. J.W. in the background teasing, saying “You lefties need to turn around and hit that ball right” If he had seen me today he would have laughed his head off, and rightfully so.
I’m glad they opened the place up…think I may go back for another round of memories sometimes.”