DY: In Just a Few Words (#38)
Sure wish I had saved those clubs...
Last week’s blog celebrated the July 4th anniversary of American independence. I hope you joined me in remembering that date. A centerpiece of that blog was an introduction to Princeton Battlefield State Park, site of a significant battle for our independence.
Now, we are back to the park again to engage with targets other than British soldiers. The targets in my day were a tree here, a flag pole there. My weapon was a golf club and the ammunition was golf balls. There was never a place better to hone links skills than Princeton Battlefield State Park.
If you read last week’s blog, you know I spent some of my formative years in the shadows of that battlefield, living just about five houses down the street. In the 1950s, Princeton Battlefield State Park was basically a big playground for me. Acres and acres of grass on both sides of Mercer Road just beckoning me to come play every day.
During this time, I became the proud owner of a partial set of very old golf clubs that had been hidden away in a corner of my grandfather’s garage. Today, these vintage clubs might have value. In those days, they were rusty club heads on hickory wood shafts.
Princeton Battlefield State Park and those ancient golf clubs were my introduction as a 13-year-old boy to a truly nice man by the name of Tom Moore, whose age at that time was probably 50 (give or take a little). Tom was a taxi cab owner who loved to hit golf balls. He was African-American and his opportunities to play on a real golf course in those days were limited to say the least. But, wow, could he ever hit that ball.
Tom had the smoothest swing I have ever seen. It was like a metronome. He was a student of the game. I know he could have been a club champion many times over. I also know that because of his skin color, there were no clubs that would have welcomed him as a member then or even much later.
After a day of dropping off commuters at the local train station, Tom would come many summer evenings to hit balls at the park. And, I would join him there. He would pick a target and I would shag the balls for him. When he was done, it was my turn. Under his guidance, I would learn the proper grip. He was the first to impress upon me that swinging hard and fast is not the way to play golf. He taught me the joy of a game I play to this day, and I remain deeply in his debt for that.
My game has been in a temporary slump for a fairly long time now - perhaps something approximating 30 years, maybe even a bit longer. As I struggle with an ever-increasing case of the yips, I am reminded of this statement by some long ago golfer: “Just once, I’d like to play my regular game.”
These days, my regular game stinks. But, I have wonderful memories of Tom Moore and his willingness to give of his time to help a young boy learn something about a great game.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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