Late each summer while he was able, my grandpa would take me on our annual golf outing. It was always an odd experience. Grandpa considered himself to be exempt from green fees. In lieu of payment, he would bring along his clippers and trim the trees on the fairways as we golfed. This slowed us down quite a bit. It also made quite a mess, since Grandpa considered picking up the branches to be beneath us.
Before we teed off, we each selected one club and left the rest in the trunk. Grandpa usually took an eight-iron. Later on, my cousin, Tom, gave him a nine-wood for Christmas. I didn’t know there was such a club, but Grandpa thought it was great. It was the only club he used for the rest of his life.
Grandpa was impatient with putting and considered a shot within 3 yards of the hole to be as good as in. He would pick up his ball and go trim trees while I chased my ball back and forth across the green.
The most dramatic moment of our golf outings came when Grandpa parred hole No. 2 in Fosston, Minn., using his nine-wood. He must have been near 80 at the time. When the long putt went in, Grandpa threw back his head and laughed until he was red in the face.
Grandpa usually tired out by hole No. 6 and would stretch out under a tree while I golfed 6 and 7. Many golfers would stop to see if he needed medical attention. By the time I picked him up again, however, he was usually awake and delivering a lecture on trees complete with scripture references to a group of golfers, some interested, some not.
After we finished, we always stopped at the Flapjack restaurant in McIntosh, Minn., for pie, even if it was 6 o’clock in the evening. The pie made Grandpa feel even better, and he would start singing hymns out loud. This behavior puzzled other restaurant patrons, but nobody ever asked him to stop.
As a teenager, these outings were an ordeal of embarrassment. Now, however, they are fun to look back upon.
For whatever reason, I haven’t golfed since.
Eric’s new book “A Treasury of Old Souls” is available here.