A Legend of Followers

A Legend of Followers

valentine golf

“You Deserve To Live a Really Long Life of Success, Accomplishment and Satisfaction”
Moss Jackson, PhD

I met my wife Judy in 1959, when she was a Freshman at Douglass College and I was a Sophomore at Rutgers University. We had been dating on and off for about a year when she invited me out to her parents’ home in Roslyn, NY.  I drove out along the Long Island Expressway, one of the worst roadways ever constructed. I looked forward to meeting her parents but, naturally, I was also a bit apprehensive about the upcoming encounter.

I brought along some flowers and chocolates for her mom. I rang the doorbell to their charming house and waited for what seemed like a very long time. The door finally opened and her attractive mother gave me a warm hug and invited me into their Frank Lloyd Wright style living room. I followed her into the house and was quickly confronted by her father shouting, “Don’t step on the green, I have a key putt to make!”

Her father was holding a putter and watching his golf ball roll toward a cup that was laying on its side, posing as a golf hole. “Do you like golf?!” he exclaimed as he put an arm around my shoulders and pulled me toward the TV where a golf tournament was in play. If I remember correctly, Arnold Palmer, Julius Boros and Gary Player were in competition for the second round of play. We sat and watched as Arnie plowed through the course. We were both enthralled at the chemistry of competition and the respect these athletes displayed toward each other.

That was my introduction to golf, Arnold Palmer and Herman Temple, Judy’s dad!

I grew to admire Arnold and his unconventional style of play. While other players stroked the ball with grace and elegance, Arnie attacked the ball as if in a street fight. He punched at the ball and strode the fairways with power and determination. He was the original Energizer Bunny and his fans loved his enthusiasm, guts and risk-taking personality.

Herman and I, after that initial meeting, would spend many hours watching golf together. We would compare the meticulous technique of Jack Nicklaus, the perfectionism of Gary Player, the playfulness of Lee Trevino and the nonchalance of Julius Boros. But in the end, we always routed for Arnold. We were followers like millions of others who were drawn to his personality, generosity on the course and sheer joy of the game. He was a man possessed by the game and it showed up with every swing he took.

Much like Herman and I did, men often form close connections through shared activities like golf. The art of connection is invaluable. Men are very capable of being intimate, but we sometimes need some structure to make it feel safe. In general, women seem more comfortable in the relationship and connection worlds. You may want to check out this essential skill of connection in my new book, “I Didn’t Come To Say Goodbye“.

I grew to love the game of golf, and now, looking back I am not sure if my passion was due to Arnie’s presence or my love for my father-in-law. In the end, it didn’t matter because Herman and I were both followers of perhaps the most consequential golfer of the 29th century. I still play with the 1950’s Spaulding golf clubs that I inherited from Herman. I could have easily gone out and bought newer and more efficient clubs, but I guess I am attached to the nostalgia and the memories of watching Herman roll in a 15-foot putt across the living room carpet and Arnie sinking a 20 footer in the Master’s Championship.

I fondly hold both of them in that part if my brain where the “Golf Center” is located. I thank both of these golfers for giving joy to the game, the competition, and the companionship that goes along with a good ol’ round of golf.

Herman died about twenty years ago and Arnold followed him just this week.
I remain a follower of them both.

Sometimes I even take a few putts on our downstairs carpet while trying to sink a 15-footer.