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Reflections September 2017

Levine's Levity

Grass over Turf

By Bill Levine

From Mom’s grumblings, I got the idea that the so-called Sport of Kings was sleazy, so why would Dad play horses instead of playing catch at home?   

As a grade schooler in the late 1950s, I really missed my dad on Saturdays. Dad would close down his dental practice at noon, come home and then jump into a car with Grandpa and a few racing pals and head to the local horse track. From Mom’s grumblings, I got the idea that the so-called Sport of Kings was sleazy, so why would Dad play horses instead of playing catch at home? I later understood why when he said he bought the Boston Record American because of its racing charts.

The 1960s, though, ushered in a new dad. We joined a nearby country club and Dad became fascinated with the backswing, instead of the back stretch. I was happier now on Saturday because I could occasionally join Dad at the pool or the 19th hole grill. Unlike the mysterious touts, I got to know Dad’s golfing partners.

Dad and I even started to play a few holes together. This was a great father and son bonding activity once I learned how to replace divots. We both got a mini-workout exercise of trekking the hilly layout of the club. Undoubtedly Dad thought this was better than watching horses exercise.

When I was 15, one round was transcendent for both of us. It was the Father/Son club tournament. This day Dad’s advice stuck – didn’t pick my head up and my shots went airborne. It was a best ball format, and we used my crushed drive off the 7th hole. We shot 46, good enough to win. It was a highlight reel for us then, and forever, as it was our lone joint trophy.

Dad, though, accumulated numerous trophies over next four decades as did a raft of golfing buddies. Eventually he left the country club but then moved to a new home, a couple of stiff three woods from the Brookline Municipal course. This became his second home.

In his 70s, Dad forged a new career as a state health consultant. Whacking a Pinnacle was not a job requirement, but it helped when vendors invited him to toney courses. On one such luxe links event, Dad was gifted a set of Calloways. These were his last and best set of clubs.

About 10 years after Dad acquired the Calloways he offered me the clubs. I was saddened by the offer because Dad was now giving up golf – his sweet spot of conviviality – and athleticism gone. But bottom line, I was honored to inherit the clubs.

If Dad stayed with the dubious Sport of Kings and fashioned a life at the track, I’m sure that his parting memento to me would have been a box full of losing pari-mutuel tickets or other heartbreaks.

 

Bill Levine is an IT professional, aspiring humorist and confirmed freelance writer from Belmont, Massachusetts.

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