I thought that finding inspiration on the golf course was an easy thing. It is easy to hit a good ball and realize that you found a fix for a current woe. It is easy to watch a beautiful sunrise and be caught up in the breath-taking moment. It is easy to foster the desire to play golf regularly. These situations, and many others, can inspire golfers to want to play golf. I have discussed many of these positive and inspiring events at The Grateful Golfer, but after being partnered with Les last Wednesday for Men’s Night, I am not so sure I understood the meaning of inspiration.
Last Wednesday, my regular playing partner and I, as we always do, threw our name into the group of players wanting to play Men’s Night. Blair and I sign up as a team of two and are willing to play with anyone. It is our intent to meet new people and just enjoy the camaraderie of playing golf with strangers. To date, we have been very lucky to meet some great people. To fill the numbers, the proshop teamed us up with John, from the previous week, and Les.
As it turned out, Les is an old friend of Blair’s. They go way back and it was quickly obvious that their friendship had endured the test of time. I introduced myself to Les and we all met at our assigned hole at 6 pm. As we started to play, we tried to devise a strategy for the 4 man-scramble which has the unique rule that requires our team to use two drives from each player. It was important to use the right ball at the right time off the tee to have any chance of scoring low. Even more challenging for our team was the fact that John and Les were not long ball hitters, but had a reasonable short game.
As we continued to play, John made some clutch shots and really stepped up. He definitely saved our team on many occasions. His best shot was from 120 yards over a bunker, guarding the green, to 20 feet. It was an awesome shot as the rest of us missed the green entirely. Now, on to Les’ story.
Les only hit two balls more than 50 yards; which we used as his drives. If we were more than 15 yards from the green, he was never on. Most playing partners would roll their eyes and begrudge being matched with him. Well, there is something important you have to know before you start thinking they are right.
Les has Parkinson’s disease. “Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease. Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain.” He had many of the symptoms such as stooped posture, tremors, and soft speech. But let me tell you, his current challenges did not stop him from playing the game he loves!
Les was amazing! On his second 9 for the day, he offered excellent course management advice which we used often. He read putts like a pro and actually sank 4 out of 5 of our putts that were 8 feet or under! His approach to playing golf was inspiring! He didn’t hint that any of his current challenges were a reason for his declining golf game. He poked fun at us and made our time on the links very memorable. His best comment of the day was when he was putting from 25 feet and ended up 15 feet off line. When his ball hit the flag on the green he exclaimed, “That was the worse #%$# putt I ever made! Come on Les!” We all burst out laughing, including Les, at his comical remark!
I found out later that Les was a single digit handicapper just a few short years ago. He continues to play regularly and his love of golf was evident during the entire round! Les was very inspiring! His love of the game and how it can bring normalcy to our lives during difficult times is a lesson I will remember always. Thanks Les for the awesome life lesson!
I am an inspired grateful golfer! See you on the links!