John Cosgriff and the Masters
I don't watch golf very often. But I always watch the Masters. Although I do find that I like the game more and more as I grow older, there's a part of me which still doesn't really see the allure. Hitting a small ball hundreds of yards into a cup maybe twice the size of that ball just doesn't seem a very entertaining way to spend an afternoon. Still, I find that golf and I have a history. Lately that's been played out through 'swing and sweeps', combined golf and curling tournaments. They're great fun, especially if, as a curler (as I am) it gets you two more curling games per season. I do look forward to them.
But more than that. My father's youngest brother, my Uncle John, liked to golf. He always bet something or other with a coworker on the outcome of the Masters. He and his boss would pick five guys alternately, and who had the winner won a sleeve of balls. I'm not sure who won most often. But I know my uncle was always proud of his picks.
I golfed with him many times years ago, when he was young and I was younger. We'd go out for nine holes after work many a summer's day. Those evenings were always good fun. If I could relive just one...we would joke and laugh, and simply enjoy the quiet and the game.
He was a lefty. That was fairly rare in golf at the time. His swing seemed unusual even to me, but for a duffer he was okay. I scored my only birdie to this date while golfing with him. The Eighth hole at Dearborn Hills, a 180 yard par 3, a Thursday night in an August the exact date of which escapes my memory just now. I made the green off the tee with a four iron, and hit a 25 foot putt which ran hard left to right right into the cup. I made him sign the scorecard to attest that I had birdied. He remarked, "No one will believe us, because I'm family". It was lightly drizzling as he signed the card under the glare of my car's headlight after that round. I still see him doing it, him down in a squat using the bumper for backing. Why do such things stay in our memories? But when he died, the first thing I did was dig up the scorecard and the ball that I birdied with.
When he had decided he was through with golf he gave me his left handed clubs. Several times I played rounds with them. If you have any idea how poorly I golf, you would know that it hardly mattered from which side of the tee I would address the ball. Might as well play lefty.
I kept those clubs for years. Then I bought a better-than-mine set of used right handed clubs (used better than I ever will), and decided to sell Uncle John's clubs at a yard sale. Who needs two sets of clubs, especially opposite sided ones, right? A young left handed guy practiced swung a few of them, decided that he wanted to golf enough so that it mattered that he ought to have his own clubs, and bought them.
I watched him walk away, dragging Uncle John's clubs behind on the cart which went with the deal. I felt a pang of remorse as the man disappeared with his new found treasure.
I sincerely hope that he has golfed well with them. And I wish I still had those clubs.