Nothing spoiled about this walk
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Golf is nothing near being “a good walk spoiled,” as Mark Twain once said. The only people who might think this way are the ones who can’t play the game well – but think they can, or the ones who have never braved an 18-hole odyssey and simply dismiss the game as being silly, or a waste of precious time.
Though never a regular visitor to the links, I started playing during my junior high school years. I signed up for summer golf lessons taught by the pro at the Glenwood Springs Golf Club, John Benzel, and I played in the Soda Pop Open, which is still a rite of summer each August for the area’s juniors.
The game was fun, but hitting that little white ball was harder than I thought it would be. I found it much easier to shoot a larger orange ball through a hoop, so, for the most part, I stuck with that game in my youth.
I played some golf in college at Highland Hills in Greeley and City Park Nine in Fort Collins, but didn’t really play the game on a regular basis until I moved back to Glenwood, post-college, and began playing with a group of elderly gentlemen – and I don’t use that term loosely – at the Glenwood Springs Golf Club.
I was just in my mid-20s, but the over-50 crowd, who gathered every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning during the golfing season, let me be a part of their group on an unofficial basis. My dad was a member of the seniors, and I knew most everyone else from my days growing up in Glenwood, so I was in – an instant senior!
The rules were simple. Everyone put $2 into the pot, then we would all do a blind draw of colored tees to determine the pairings for the round. I enjoyed all the foursomes I was matched with, but I especially looked forward to the days when I would get to play with the likes of John Samuelson, Mo Barz, Vern Biddle, Bud Nelson or Bob Swanson. My Dream Teamers, and boy were they characters.
Sure, we played golf, but what made the day so special was soaking in all the great stories these men had from a lifetime gone by in the blink of an eye. Following golf, everyone would gather on the deck of the old clubhouse to tally scores, hand out money to the winners, have a good meal, slurp a couple of beers and tell more stories.
I looked forward to my senior golfing days.
Of course, there were others who played – George Morrison, Lyle Beattie, Dale Snearly, George Fuller, Bob Wolfarth, Stan Dodson and many more. I can still see the faces, but my memory can’t quite place a name to them all.
I played with the seniors for many years, until the swings became slower, and their ranks began to thin. Most of them, ever so gently, moved on to tee times in a much better place than this, where all drives must surely land in the fairway and every par putt finds its intended place of rest.
My golfing again became sparse until I heard this spring that the seniors were still gathering on The Hill three days a week. Since I’m now 50 years old, I realized that I could go play and be official. No more age-wise sandbagging. I was anxious to see which members of the old group were still playing.
It took me until early October, but I finally got off my fanny, pulled the clubs out of the closet, and headed up in elevation to Glenwood’s old nine, the best golf course this side of the Pecos River.
George Morrison, George Fuller and Dale Snearly, at ages 86, 80 and 88, respectively, were the only members of the original senior group, which began playing in the early 1980s, that are still around. I knew some of the others, such as Gary Heisel, Richard Blake and Bob Zanella, but much had changed, except for my golf game, which is still well below average.
Regardless of the decade, the senior golfers are fun to be with on a beautiful fall morning, or any day for that matter, and I will make it a point to play with them again. I met some new, unique gentlemen who had good life stories of their own to tell, and pretty fair golf games as well.
Mark Twain is way off base in his assessment of golf. As long as the company is good, I may walk with this game forever.
Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer for the Post Independent. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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Policy that dictates what for-profit activities should be officially sanctioned within Glenwood Springs parks is being reviewed by city staff and will likely come before the city council for final approval later this summer.