The Norman Transcript

November 29, 2012

Golf, false teeth and being thankful

By Bruce Kessler
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Golf is a great sport. This is especially true with real golf characters like my Uncles Allen and Clarence and my dad (Erwin). They loved the game and played golf with a special flare but at the same time didn’t take the game too seriously. They found something special in golf like Arnold Palmer who said, “What other people may find in poetry, I find in the flight of a good drive.” My dad had some training but like all great duffers you relearn the trade. There’s no cynicismor excuses in golf. You’ll find more champions and specialists in golf than in any sport known to all humanity.

Just ask your friendly golf companion.

Clarence and Allen had unorthodox swings. Allen had this weird crouch. On his back-swing, he would rise to his toes and on the down-swing would hunker down to his knees. Clarence would stand addressing his ball (maddeningly too long) and tilt his head just before teeing off. My dad was more suave, swinging so easily and fluidly that you had visions of a dashing Brit who would say afterward, “fabulous my dear chaps don’t you think?” All of which made for great entertainment and wonderful moments. One particular moment stands out.

The drama unfolded around a par 5 dog-leg to the right. The green was large undulating lazily toward a small pond positioned to the left on your approach. The day was gorgeous — blue sky, sunny, a touch of breeze coming from Hilton Head Island. No mosquitoes or big Savannah gnats to fend off. This was one of those picture perfect days all golfers dream about. So, here we were standing on the green patiently waiting for Clarence to putt in his birdie.

We all had putted so he could have his moment in the sun. A birdie for a seasoned duffer was monumental and would provide future swash-buckling tales.

The ball was just 3 inches away from the cup. Clarence approached and addressed the ball. Crickets chirped, birds sung, a sprinkler chattered in the background, a slight breeze caused leaves to ramble across the green; a prop engine airplane hummed faintly over-head, somewhere an old Grandfather clock stroked, and we all breathlessly waited.

Finally, he putts.

The ball rings the lip of the cup. He missed. Reacting to this egregious crime, Clarence leaped in the air and shouted, “shhhh…oot!” He did this with such force that his upper false teeth sailed out of his mouth, tumbling in slow-motion through the air and miraculously landing right beside the cup and golf ball. In the background dad stated dramatically, “Clarence, don’t let this game eat you up.”

Clarence and my dad are no longer living. I thank God for those special Saturday’s playing golf, walking down the fairway, laughing, enjoying the day with my family — a cast (that is still growing) — of very unusual yet much beloved characters.

Be thankful and remember what truly matters.

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” 1 Chronicles 29:14.

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