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Golf At Its Best

Golf is, in many ways, a strange sport. You can have many matches and tournaments in the game, but there is always only one common opponent–the golf course itself.

The scoreboard may show you playing against another person (or persons,) but the real opponent is the golf course. The water, the sand traps, the rough and, of course, the ill-fated “out-of-bounds,” are a common plague for everyone on the course. And, the course itself always plays “at par”–a score only attainable by the best players.

Whenever you think you have conquered the course, it comes up to bite you on the next hole. The course is the common enemy and everyone is trying to beat it with a club in their hands.

Thus, it has always amazed me how people can fall in love with such an opponent–but it happens all the time. It is not a love like you have for your wife and kids. It is more like a love of country–but it is love still the same. The relationship becomes so strong, that soon you are calling your favorite golf course “my course.” That doesn’t happen much in other sports. Who ever heard of “my football stadium” or “my tennis court?”

For my good friend Peter, Moon Brook has always been “his” course. He could be standing on the # 1 Tee at the Old Course in St. Andrews or even at Augusta, and if asked what golf meant to him, he would say: “Moon Brook!”

So, it was with little surprise that I watched him join with his friend Mike and become deeply involved in the recent organizing and playing of the 30th Anniversary of the Links Charity Golf Tournament held there. Yes, he was helping to raise money for a good cause (our local hospital,) and to honor past organizers like Sandy, Mary and Al. But, for Peter, what motivated him most was that it would be a recognition again of his favorite place in golf.

I thought of this as I watched him play through #10 that day, with his grandson as a part of his foursome. Some years back, I had been in a group with him during this same tournament and his mother and her friends were sitting in lawn chairs behind #10 green cheering on their friends and pals who were playing. After putting out, Peter went over and gave them all a big bear hug before heading for the #11 tee and that miserable shot over the water, uphill on that endless par 5 fairway that finally does end with those nasty bunkers at the top often swallowing your ball.

I am sure that this time, he was remembering those times. Golf is a sport of remembrances and history.

There was a great Scottish golfer and golf architect, Willie Park Jr., who designed Moon Brook. There are also many great stories associated with it, including how the publisher of our local newspaper along with other business leaders personally signed notes at the bank to save the course during the depression.

But, what keeps all of this history alive is the course itself. Standing there on the sidehill, just north of town, waving its par flag in your face each time you play it as everyone’s common opponent yet somehow disguising itself as your understanding friend.

Most golfers have what they call a “my course” in describing their golfing preference. And, for Peter, it will always be that place called “Moon Brook,” right up the road, right here in his hometown.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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