For the Love of the Game
February 14th is a special day for lovers, and we love golf. We love it for many reasons, so we asked our staff here at Great Golf Memories to share their own love notes about our favorite game. From pulling up to the clubhouse at dawn to the distinctive “ping” a driver makes when you catch it perfectly square, these stories demonstrate why the game of golf is worthy of our unconditional, lifelong love.
Golf Strengthens the Love of Family
Our owner, Mercer Langley, loves to play golf as much as he loves delivering joy to each of our customers. Some deliveries are more special than others, like one from Christmas 2013 when a customer wanted a custom golf gift to remember his wife who passed away earlier in the year.
They were a young couple, but throughout their relationship had shared a love of golf and played together frequently. While settling his wife’s affairs, the gentleman found some of her love letters and wanted to create something special with them. Mercer and the Great Golf Memories team used the letters to recreate her handwriting on golf ball marker poker chips, but it wasn’t easy. In fact, you could call it a labor of love.
“It took me tremendous time to edit the photos, but it was well worth the effort to make something so special,” said Langley when reflecting on the project. “The poker chips came out so well it looked like someone had handwritten on them.”
The gentleman was so happy with the poker chips that he gave them as Christmas gifts to members of the family. Playing a small part in memorializing a mutual love affair with golf is an awesome thing, and we are proud to preserve memories of a loved one through the bonds of a common interest.
Golf Gear We Love
Here’s a story about an old vintage club, as told by our Caddyshack contributing blogger Jordan Brooks.
There is plenty about playing golf that is worthy of affection, but something uniquely amazing about splurging on a new piece of gear. For me, one of the best pieces of golf equipment I have is coincidentally one of the cheapest things in my bag.
As a southpaw golfer, second-hand equipment is hard to come by. Lefties are already a small percentage of the population, and now natural lefties are being taught to play the “right” way. So left handed clubs are a dying breed, but they are out there for those who seek them. Enter my persimmon 1 wood.
On a trip to a used sporting goods shop shortly after high school graduation, I was casually browsing the “unique” clubs bin. And there it was. Standing out amongst the others like a misfit toy was something I’d never seen before, at least in person. It was in pretty good shape given its age, with its red plastic strike plate showing little wear, and still sporting relatively deep grooves. Indeed, I had found a left handed persimmon 1 wood.
Five dollars later, this vintage relic was in my bag and en route to the driving range. It only took a few test swings to learn it wouldn’t be the longest club in my bag, but the sweet sound it made when I hit it just right reminded me of simpler times. Unfortunately, that day on the range was the last day I ever hit it particularly well. The easy draw turned into a gnarly slice, but that damn club stays in my bag.
Maybe it’s out of laziness, or maybe it’s because I know I’ll never swing it again if I put it in a dusty corner of my garage. But more than likely, I keep it because it reminds me of the close group of friends I made playing golf (and going to thrift shops). One day in the future, when I’m playing with these guys, I have dreams of pulling out the permission and hitting it 50 yards past them on the tee.
But maybe it would be better for everyone if I finally gave this legendary club the respect it deserves.
Golf Courses We Love
As told by a staff member who wishes to remain anonymous, for fear of truancy.
Everyone has that special course they remember fondly. Maybe it’s the country club where they first learned to love the game, or a bucket list course that submitted to a career round. For me, the course that will always be closest to my heart isn’t a country club or a destination resort on a tropical island: it’s the public course I grew up playing.
Nestled near a prominent lake in the suburbs of my hometown is the dirt track I still dream about. And I mean dirt track. Come late summer, the municipal authority (or whoever was responsible for watering the fairways) would let the whole 18 burn to a crisp, from fairway to green, providing a hopeless dustbowl for all who sought respite on its rolling hills.
I fondly remember weekday “greens” fees of $10 without a cart, so of course my friends and I had to take advantage. Don’t tell my parents or high school principal, but we figured out that if we left school shortly after homeroom, we could squeeze in 18 holes and get back just before our last class, when final attendance was taken.
Out on that course was where I got my first taste of independence. Sure, I was supposed to be in school, but skipping out for golf was my choice and I had the power to make it. I think the self confidence I gained on those 18 holes prepared me well for the “true” independence I would experience a year later in college. But even if that’s hindsight covering up youthful neglect, there’s no doubt those spring mornings spent tinkering with my game, pretending to be a grown up and relaxing in the sun with my friends will stick with me longer than the 4th period advanced accounting classes we all missed.
Golf Traditions We Love
Another tale from the Caddyshack.
As someone who collects golf balls from every course with a logo ball for sale in the clubhouse, “crossing” dream courses off my list is almost a means of collecting more balls to display. But among my collection of balls sits either an empty slot or a hot pink range ball I happened upon shortly after graduating college.
I consider myself lucky to have friends who have good luck. A particular friend and his family had particularly good luck, and purchased a vacation home situated right on a golf course. Once we became old enough to drive and take care of ourselves for a weekend, my buddy would reserve the house for a weekend trip where we’d escape for a few rounds of golf, a few rounds of drinks, and maybe both at the same time.
On one particular day of mixing rounds, I badly mishit a tee shot into the way-way-rough, and while searching I happened upon “the Pink Lady.” It took one hot second for me to abandon the search for my own ball and adopt the Pink Lady for the remainder of the hole. It started as a joke, but by George it seemed to fly straighter and farther than the golf balls I’d purchased for the weekend.
Out of jealousy or competition, but probably jealousy, my friend decided he wanted a chance to play with the Pink Lady and proposed a wager: The winner of the next hole would take control of the Pink Lady. We played the remaining holes like this, until he claimed the pink prize with a gutsy par on 18.
While we stopped using the Pink Lady during play (for fear of losing it), we still play for the right to retain it every time we get together for a round. This winter, the Pink Lady lives at his house, but come spring, I hope I’ll be able to win it back and return it to its rightful place among the fancier, but less important, golf balls in my collection.
Vintage Golf Fashions We Love
As told by Great Golf Memories Blogger Frank McNally.
I love golf, and I also love vintage style and gear. My buddies particularly enjoy the affinity I have for cardigans that look straight from grandpa’s closet. The old leather golf bag I bought off eBay a decade ago catches the attention of everyone at the clubhouse. That’s probably why one of the first blogs I wrote for Great Golf Memories was inspired by vintage Masters merchandise I found during countless google searches.
Golf is unique among sports in that there’s no unifo
rm. Players can wear pretty much whatever they want, as a reflection of their personal style or, more accurately these days, the branding of whichever corporation bids high enough for their physical real estate.
Whether it was Payne Stewart in his knickers, Ricky Fowler and his color blocks, or Arnold Palmer’s effortless American style, professional golf is a time capsule of men’s fashion since the beginning of modern times. So while I was disappointed last April when the Masters got cancelled, I found myself watching the coverage of old rounds with as much interest in the shots as the clothes the shooters (and gallery) were wearing.
Some of the styles are looks I’d love to replicate, like Arnie’s deep buttoned polo shirts and sharp v-neck sweaters. His style commanded the fairways and in today’s relaxed office environment, it would command the boardroom as well. Freddie Couples’ tour visors are another envy-inducing item; with their high brim and perfect arc they’re a staple at many a college football tailgate.
But not all golf fashions are worthy of imitation, even though everything old will become new again (see braided belts and pleated pants, yes they are making a comeback!). Perhaps the most memorable “fashion fail” belongs to the 1999 US Ryder Cup Team and their collage shirts celebrating legends of the game.
Whatever the decade, the archives of golf are a study in the past. I wonder how future generations will look back on the pastels, whites, and performance gear that dominates the courses today? I’ll love to be around to see it.
Golf Pros We Love
One thing we definitely love about golf is watching professionals play it to perfection. If our article on great golf books spurred you to read any of the historical accounts of golf, then you already know how awe inspiring the legendary match between amateurs Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward, and legendary pros Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson was. Or how Francis Ouimet’s 1913 US Open win would change golf forever.
Maybe you, like us, delighted in revisiting the top masters moments from the last half century. While Mark Frost’s books are riveting, there’s just something special about being able to watch legends like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Fred Couples and Tiger Woods hit incredible shots again and again.
Golf is a fleeting game, and watching some professionals play at their peak for a period of time, only to fall out of the golf god’s graces, reminds us that this game cannot be won. And redemption stories are as fun to watch as the domination of a player in their prime. No matter the shape of your game, watching the pros work their way around courses that you remember year in and year out (from the Majors to the Players, and everything in between) reminds you that your next great golf memory is just a swing away.
Golf Personalities We Love
Sometimes watching someone else do something that they love is enough to make you love that thing just as much. Over a tumultuous career that seems to have had more downs than ups, John Daly was and is, by all accounts, a phenomenal talent. Crushing balls past obstacles that other pros had to watch out for, and winning huge tournaments in seasons where he didn’t even make the PGA cut, Daly just made for great watching.
That’s why my dream trip to Augusta will always involve stopping to see him selling merchandise and glad handing fans in the Hooters parking lot. Through the haze of a lifestyle that may have killed anyone else, Daly’s relationship with his fans has always been something that spurred him on, and seemingly kept him going. High fiving fans after hitting absolute bombs off the tee, he was always the showman.
Sure, it would be nice to see John play at The Masters, but really my dream is just to buy one of his shirts, shake his hand and thank him for the memories.
Those are just a few of the reasons we love golf. Do you have a love story you’d like to share? Drop it in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!