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Enjoying life one swing at a time

“As you drive your golf cart down the fairway of life you must enjoy each shot to its fullest, for you only get to play one round.”

I take the liberty of providing this updated paraphrasing of Ben Hogan’s famous quote because, even though it’s been around 60 years or so, the message still applies.

I witness this particular meaning in a literal sense from time to time, but none more so than now, as I have had the pleasure of playing a few rounds again this spring with a gentleman the exact opposite of my age.

I am 48, he is 84.

It’s not just the number reversal that draws my attention, although I did put together a quick spreadsheet to see if any of my kids or my parents would or ever did satisfy my apparent numerically dyslexic fascination.

No such luck.

But it’s much more than that anyway (no offense to the numerically dyslexic), as I am not just a computer nerd, but a golf nerd as well, and I tend to look at life from whatever angle I happen to be aiming for at that moment.

There was an old Popeye cartoon where the spinach-loving hero was driving down a city street, humming a tune while keeping a steady pace. With his slow but constant speed, he approaches each red light at the exact moment it changes to green, thus is never bothered with coming to a complete stop.

Smooth.

Along came Bluto, the Darth Vader of his time, screaming from light to light with the intensity of Buddy Lazier at Indy. Red-lining at each stop, his tires scream with anticipation as he races to the next light, where he inevitably is forced to squeal to a bone-jarring stop, only to have Popeye come putt-putting alongside at his ever pleasant pace, never stopping his forward progress the entire time.

My senior golfing buddy is Popeye, and while I don’t golf with anywhere near the intensity of a Bluto, I can’t help but notice my extreme ups and downs each round, while my partner’s game never seems to waver.

He shoots his age every 18 with more regularity than … well, you know, and still practices with the methodicalness of a 21-year-old prepping for Q-School (sort of a grad golf school for pro-wannabes).

I call it a miracle if I shoot my age each nine.

I have been lucky to call the man a friend for a few years now, and the more time we spend together, the more encouraged I become for not only my future, but my children’s.

To borrow another quote: “In golf as in life, it’s the follow-through that makes the difference.”

My elderly emissary for approaching middle life and beyond was once the second man in line for one of the major industrial thrones of U.S. defense contractors. He can talk more about the missile silos built to protect American citizens from the Red Scare than can ever possibly be written, and has a far better understanding of current world situations than I can ever hope to grasp.

Yet he walked away from it all at the relatively young age of 57 to spend his days doing what he loves best, like enjoying quality time with his family, traveling with his wife, skiing, fishing, and luckily for me, playing golf.

He also writes a letter or two to the editor of this paper every blue moon (if you happen to be one of those who believe a blue moon occurs as often as the Vail Trail is published).

By this point, most of you probably know I am referring to a local gentleman whose name rhymes with a grape concoction that, like the man himself, seems to get better with age.

Anyway, also like life, I have a few friends who take the game far too serious, tending to choose the prospect of winning, especially in tournament-styled competitions, over the simple enjoyment of playing a game we all love.

This geriatric gentleman shows me each week, in his words on these pages and his performance on the golf course, that life is meant to be savored, enjoyed, discussed, debated, dissected and, most of all, lived.

So for me, golf is not an acronym for “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden,” as that’s an old wives tale anyway, and besides, there are no mulligans allowed in this game.

The four letters mean “Growing Older, Living Fuller,” and nobody proves it more to me around here, especially on the golf course, than David Levine.

NOTE: The preceding opinions belong to Richard and are not necessarily shared by this newspaper … but for shanking (or sometimes hooking) reasons, he thinks they should be.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at poor@vail.net. E-mail comments to letters@vaildaily.com.


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