Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A good friend of mine asked me to join him in a round of golf at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester. Serious golfers recognize this club as one of the more prestigious courses — not just in New York State, but — the entire country. (It’s storied history will add, yet, another chapter next year when the PGA Championship is held there.)
Aware of the world-wide buzz that “From the Valley” generates, my friend asked that I not divulge his name if I wrote a story in the newspaper about it. He’s not interested in the celebrity status that goes along with the column; he’d be uncomfortable dealing with the notoriety, television interviews, etc. (The European paparazzi can be so smothering.)
And so, as a gesture of respect, I’ll honor his request and keep his identity a secret. Mum’s the word! That’s him in the picture at the top of the column. My friend, Mike, is the one on the left - I’m on the right.
He won the chance to play Oak Hill (for two people) in a raffle and I was honored he considered me to join him. (Another reason for his requested anonymity was so that no hurt feelings would arise from those he didn’t ask.)
I had Googled the place (Oak Hill) a week before and remember thinking “Good Lord, it looks like Buckingham Palace.” I was nervous because anything that has a ceremonious ring to it brings out the ‘I am not worthy’ vexation that has dogged – not only me, but — anyone growing up Catholic in the ‘50s and 60s.
Upon arrival, green-vested employees scurried over to take our clubs and find out “who the hell are these guys?” After locating our names on their official-looking clipboards, they carried our equipment to a cart and announced that our host had not shown up yet. (’Our host’ was a member assigned to play with us and show us around the course.)
It wasn’t long before a fellow appeared and introduced himself as Mark. Mark was the 3rd person in our 3-some. Mark was the perfect gentleman, a good golfer and a gracious host. (Incidentally, he also took the photo.)
Now, you have to understand that my approach to golf is simple: don’t embarrass myself. It’s said that no one will ever recall what you scored – but will forever remember how you acted. Keeping my head down when striking the ball is usually easier than keeping my mouth shut.
I can honestly say, I was proud of the way I played — even though I didn’t score well (102). I played the same ball throughout the whole round. That’s the advantage of being able to hit it only 30 yards at any given time.
Mark took us into the palatial clubhouse after we finished golfing and bought us lunch. The history and aura of the place was unnerving.
On the way to the dining area we passed through the extended dressing room. As we walked by the gigantic lockers on a plushly-carpeted floor, we were taken aback, when a little man bent over from age — he was old enough to make Abe Vigoda look like Justin Bieber, OK? – suddenly sauntered through the room buck-naked. (I KNOW: it’s a locker-room. But it verged on traumatic, OK?) I couldn’t look at my friend’s face knowing full well that we would both lose any sense of decorum if we made eye contact. I simply whispered after we exited, “I don’t know what that was … but it sure needed ironing.”
I told you the place was unnerving. But fun … very fun!
And FORE! now, that’s the way it looks from the Valley.
Tom Valley is a Medina resident. His column appears every Wednesday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.