While these jokes were being made at the expense of America's Cup, my mind slid back to a handful of golf-themed memories from my youth. Golf had been one of my father's passions, so we were introduced to the game quite early. When we were kids in Cleveland he'd drive us to a certain stretch of forest adjacent to golf course where he'd have us do a scavenger hunt for golf balls. He knew exactly where to have us look, because a few of these may have been his at one time.
I later caddied for a couple years while in high school, and enjoyed the benefit of playing for free on Mondays. Though my skills never advanced beyond being a hack, I enjoyed the game and followed the pro circuit enough (via Sports Illustrated and televised tournament golf) to know who the name were. My dad was part of Arnie's Army, the nickname given to the fans and followers of that golf great whose chief adversary (and respected friend) was the "Golden Bear" Jack Nicklaus. I myself liked the South African Gary Player, in part because he always wore black, like an outlaw of sorts.
And then, there was Lee Trevino.
His achievements were many, and in 1971 he became the first player to win the U.S. Open, British Open and Canadian Open the same year. In fact, he did it in a three-week span.
Trevino also had another unusual threesome. He has been purportedly struck by lightning three times, one of them during the 1975 Western Open. The odds of being struck by lightning during your lifetime, for what it's worth, are 300,000 to one, though I'm guessing your odds might improve considerably if you're routinely out on a fairway when storms roll in.
Lee Trevino grew up very poor. He has no memory of his father who abandoned the family while he was very you. At age five he was helping bring in an income picking cotton. How he emerged from these roots to become an elite golfer is a tale for another place in time.
Baseball fans are well acquainted with the Yogi Berra's Yogi-isms. (Susie and I frequently recite his restaurant quip, "No one eats there anymore because it's too busy.") Lee Trevino's way with words can be equally entertaining. Here are ten Trevino statements to get you started.
1. The older I get, the better I used to be.
2. If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron.
3. Pressure is playing for ten dollars when you don't have a dime in your pocket.
4. When you're poor, you know nothing about the future, you know nothing about the world, nothing that goes on outside 300 yards around you.
5. You're Mexican until you make money and then you're Spanish.
6. Golf is a game invented by the same people who think music comes out of a bagpipe.
7. My swing is so bad I look like a caveman killing his lunch.
8. I'm not out there just to be dancing around. I expect to win every time I tee up.
9. I'm not saying my golf game went bad, but if I grew tomatoes, they'd come up sliced.
10. Every golfer should come to the first tee with fourteen clubs, a dozen balls, a handful of tees, and at least one great golf story.
Meantime, life goes on all around you. Give it your best shot.
Photo courtesy Creative Commons.