I guess for a man who was never a good enough player to turn professional I was fortunate to have been introduced to golf at an early age.
During summer months I would ride along with my father while he was delivering milk for the Bainbridge Dairy Farm in Terre Haute, Indiana. His route took us into Allendale, a small town just south of Terre Haute. The community surrounded the Terre Haute Country Club.
I was mesmerized by the huge homes with magnificent lawns and landscaping. Living on a farm during my earlier years I had no concept of how wealthy some people were. As a matter of fact I was not aware that there were rich people in the world. One owner was Tony Hulman, who later bought the Indianapolis Speedway. Another resident, by the name of Root, manufactured bottles for Coca Cola.
My dad’s route took us around the golf course and sometimes, early in the mornings, I would see people playing on a course of incredible beauty.
One morning I spoke with a caddie near my age who was carrying clubs for members who were playing. I discovered that I could earn some money doing the same. From then on summers were devoted to caddying on the Terre Haute Country Club golf course.
I was fortunate in other ways. Being in the fur business, I had some wealthy clients. A member of the Pebble Beach course in California invited me to play the shrine. A friend in the fur industry invited me to play Augusta National. I was able to play the course four times. I could bring two friends from Atlanta. I quickly heard from friends I hadn’t seen for years.
Being in the fur business I was also fortunate to have an affiliation with the ladies golf groups in several of the major clubs in Metropolitan Atlanta. It was an unusual arrangement, unique.
I’ve never had a hole-in-one but I came within one inch on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach and the 12th hole at Augusta. A blade of grass, or a spike mark, maybe made the difference.
I sat one morning looking out over the Smoke Rise practice range and practice green with grass that looked a fine carpet. Farther out was the first tee that made me go home and polish my clubs. Even though still in February the grass was amazingly green. I was discussing our love for golf with Kevin Cole, head golf pro at the Smoke Rise Country Club in Stone Mountain. We are ex-navy with a few orthopedic problems. He is doing what I would have been doing if I had been a better player in 1946.
I told him about Gene Cofer telling me I could look for Indian artifacts where two streams came together before the course was developed, when Highway 78 was still two lanes; artifacts by the dozen. I told him about knowing the contractor who was excavating, creating the contours of the course, and since I was familiar with flowers, working with him to tag the azaleas and dogwoods so they would remain a component of the magnificent terrain.
I bragged about having my “real wood” Spalding woods refinished. He said he had an original set of Wilson Staffs from the 60’s still in the original carton. I gave up. I couldn’t top that one.
You should visit Smoke Rise. It is a spectacular golf course.