Friday, May 13, 2011

My Golfing Grandpa

My golfing grandpa turned 92 yesterday. I had a fishing grandpa and a golfing grandpa growing up. The fishing grandpa has been gone for a few years now, along with my grandmothers, and so my golfing grandpa is the last of a hearty generation--that Greatest Generation from Tom Brokaw's book--in my life.

Apparently, he wasn't always a golfer or a grandpa, but I don't really remember either of those things. He was born in 1919 in Iowa, grew up and went to high school, then went off to the war like so many young men his age, leaving behind a pregnant wife. He survived those years in the Pacific, in places like Saipan, though he understandably doesn't want to talk about it. I'm the product of surviving that horror, as my dad was part of that baby boomer generation, born a year after the war ended.

I didn't know that man that came back, raised a family, and worked for 30+ plus years at the Union and Missouri Pacific railyards. He didn't play golf at all until after I was born, as he was nearing retirement. But to me, he was my golfing grandpa.

For as far as I can remember, he would go play golf with his friend Newt, often multiple times a week. He made my first club when I was a boy, a cut-down 7-iron that I once used to put a dent in my sister's head (accidentally) when she walked up behind me while swinging. I'd like to think that golf gave him something extra to look forward after retirement, the challenge of learning and constantly working on something kept him young, and he embraced the pace and rhythm of the game. He's a quiet, thoughtful man, and he had the perfect personality for the swings that come with the sport.

Straight down the fairway, every time. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but only just a little. While I was banging it down the course, occasionally in to trouble, there he would be knocking it right down the middle and just moving on. I don't think there's any memory I cherish as much as watching him, with both hands clasped around the putter, giving it the 'ol lean as a long putt was approaching the hole. And he was always good for a couple of long ones a round.

Neither of us has played any golf the last couple of years. Eventually, the exertion of a 3-4 hour day of golf became too much, although I think he could have gone on a little longer--Newt's health and my grandmother's health had as much to do with it as his own physical condition. For me, it was a growing family and young children making this a down time for golf. I know I can go back though, because it's in the genes.


  1. Nicely written! Sweet, sweet story J Kyle!!!

  2. Amber in KC is already in danger of getting moderated. Revealing my middle name, c'mon.