On a recent trip to his small hometown (population of less than 3,000), 2 days of the best golf was played – what made it the best? Certainly not the level of skill, nor the condition of the golf course. It was 36 holes, a handful of cold beverages with a best friend on day 1 and a playing tour of a great old 9 holes on day 2. A tour you ask, this tour was for his wife who had heard plenty about this “great course” but had never seen the course not covered in snow.
In this hometown there lays a great old golf course, OK a great old 9 holes. This hilly, challenging parkland-style original 9 was built somewhere around 1924, a course that his grandmother played and taught her 2 children to play. No practice range, but it helped that the house these children grew up in was a sand wedge away from #2 tee. The game was simple, play all 9, or simply walk across the street, play down #2 and back up #6 just in time to be home for dinner.
This simple tradition continued with a young mother toting her young son in a yellow wagon up and down the fairways with a smile and a wave over the split rail fence to family in the big white house next to #2 tee.
The tradition would again continue years later; the passenger in the little yellow wagon would grow up to love the game in this small town. Like any kid in the 80s and early 90s, there were other things; baseball, basketball, video games, but the simple tradition and magnetism of the small town golf course was always there to be enjoyed, either alone or with friends. Guess who was there with a wave from across the street on #2 tee, as if to check in and say “hi,” everything is all right? I can only imagine what they felt and how it seemed like déjà vu from year’s earlier.
Now, I’ve been referring this course with the moniker of greatness, but you will not find it on any GolfDigest lists, or even a personal top 10 list of courses in that region. What makes this course great is that it was a place that welcomed you in the most simple of ways. Memories were created by those who played it, it was accessible, enjoyable and will always be a link to a family’s past. Looking to the future, the boy in the yellow wagon will hopefully be able to pass along this simple tradition to his boys, with or without the yellow wagon or friendly wave from across the street.
Do you long for the simpler days of golf? Share your early golf experiences with us…