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In early March, my long time golf partner, Wayne, invited me to join him for a week of golf at his new digs at The Villages in centralFlorida. I have to admit that I had some trepidation about this since the Villages was where 65,000 people showed up to attend a rally for Sarah Palin.
OK, I’m showing a bias here. But I have always thought that of golf’s greatest features is that it keeps Republicans off the streets. But people of similar political persuasion to mine love the place and said “Jimmy, you’ll enjoy it. Just give it a chance.” They should have added “and you keep your mouth shut” which is no small task for me, as many have pointed out.
I lasted three days, not bad considering the over/under on my political silence was one day.
It happened after a truly fun round of golf with two ofWayne’s retirement buddies, Frank fromNew Hampshireand Pete fromMinneapolis. Frank and I shared so many things we had in common, from playing baseball at Gil Stadium inManchesterto golf at Mojalaki, a course so bad that Lisbon GC (rememberLisbonwith its sand tees) looked likeAugustain comparison. We laughed and joked and had ourselves a good old time before we retired to the patio for a pitcher of Yuengling. It happened so quickly, I couldn’t help myself. It went like this:
Frank: Whaddya think of what Rush had to say?
Pete: About that Fluke woman?
Jim: (starts to squirm in his chair)
Frank: Yeh. The one who wants us to pay so she can have sex all the time.
Pete: Ah, she’s what Rush said she is.
Jim: (develops a nervous tic and starts to twitch)
Frank; I think Rush is right. She’s a prostitute.
Pete: Rush tells it like it is.
Jim: ARE YOU GUYS &$##@**&% CRAZY? (OK, admittedly a tad over the top on my part).
Frank: Well, you know she’s an activist.
Jim: WHAT? (starting to spray spit)
Pete: That’s right. Its well known she’s an activist.
Jim: SO WAS THOMAS PAINE!!! (eyes bulging like a bullfrog)
Frank: Who’s that?
Jim: Never mind. (slumps in his chair)
Frank refused to shake my hand as we left and Pete gave me a look that said “you’ll never play here again.” So much for the healing power of golf as it relates to political differences.
But nothing could ruin the week of golf I spent with my old friend and colleague. We played golf, reminisced, laughed, talked. Keith and Russ Barber had joined us for golf and dinner and we had a great time as they showed us their new home away from home.
I actually liked the Villages. It’s a bit like living in Epcot and a little monochromatic for my tastes, but everybody seems so happy and pleasant and self-satisfied. The golf was fun and the courses were well priced albeit packed. It was March inFlorida, after all. Even at 65 years old,Waynestill hits it out of sight and he’s definitely the “Big Dog” among his peers, a status he unabashedly enjoys. Which made me happy. I’m glad for my old friend for finding a retirement spot that has made him as content and secure as I have ever seen him. Of course, when you shoot 72 at age 65, security and contentment are bound to follow.
All of this was prelude to the major golf trip of the year, two weeks inScottsdalewith Jon Morosini, Tommy Secchiaroli, Dennis McCabe and the one and only Rodney Mackin. Despite some initial glitches with the housing arrangements all that followed was part of a great golf vacation.
As trip director (a self-assigned title) I assumed the task of dividing assignments so that everybody had a vital role in making sure the trip was a success. The following tasks were laid out and assigned:
2. Golf games scoring-Jon
3. House, pool, and spa issues-Tommy
4. Cooking- Jimmy and Jon
6. Drinking all the Heineken in Arizona-Rodney
Rodney, of course objected to these designations, arguing that cleaning should top the list since it was clearly the most important task. Moreover, the entire trip depended on the cleanliness of our abode, and he was ready and willing to assume the task that would ensure his pre-eminence and the ultimate success of this trip. He further argued that task No. 6 was an insult to him and that we should not joke about such things. He said he would take steps to ensure that No. 6 never happened and he did.
He switched to StellaArtois.
None this is true, of course, but it makes for good teasing of one the kindest and gentlest people you could possibly know. Every trip could use a dose of Rodney Mackin for it is his good humor, generosity, and affability that becomes the heart of the true buddy trip experience. Two weeks in close quarters for four guys can become a tense experience, but not with Rodney as the centerpiece. If you can’t enjoy a golf trip with Rodney, you had better stay home.
Next week I’ll have a lot more to say about golf inArizonaand share some observations about buddy trips as a great way to kick off a golf year. Meanwhile its off to Great Neck CC and some serious practice while I watch the renaissance continue.
Jim O’Neill is a member at Great Neck CC.