Yeah, but what is that in golf years?

So, let’s just get to it. I’m getting old. I’ll be 55 years old this August. (August 20th to be exact. Venmo and PayPal info available upon request.) I’ve never felt old before. I kinda don’t now. I mean shit hurts. Joints mostly. But they never hurt while I’m doing the thing that will make them hurt later. I can still walk 18 and play tennis with the kid. It’s only after that the shoulders/arms and legs/knees don’t want to move on command.

I guess that’s literally getting old, but I never thought of those things as getting old. How can I be getting old; I still have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old. Fart jokes make me laugh hysterically, and don’t cause me to fart myself while I’m laughing. That’s a pretty decent litmus test in my opinion. Yet somehow, I am getting old.

It’s at this point I feel the need to mention the fact that I am the 2nd youngest of 8 siblings. Not sure if they still read since I haven’t written anything since September of last year. If they do see this, there is no doubt they will take issue with the fact I’m calling myself old since they are all older than me. And they’d probably be justified in their issue taking. I found out the other day age and time are all up for grabs. It’s an individual thing.

I promise I will not use that stupid, tired, cliche Age is just a number. Don’t even get me started with that crap.

See, see! Right there. Old me, (meaning younger me, this is so confusing), would have eviscerated someone for using such a lazy cliche. Instead, I just let it go now, because, well, I’m old and too tired to point out the stupidity of a thing anymore. Eh it happens.

I still don’t get bothered by snot nosed whipper snappers calling me sir. Sort of like it if I’m being honest. What has put the bee in my bonnet so to speak is the golf course.

Yes, yes I know it. Hard to believe. But it’s true. The bone I have to pick is with the thing I enjoy almost more than anything. And it’s worse than that. It’s going to my kid’s golf matches that got this whole screed rolling.

This was Frank at the dawn of his golf career.

That’s Frank. He was 4 going on 5 when that pic was taken. Tiger Wood’s social media people used that pic on the front of the TW Facebook page before the start to Wood’s season in 2015. Proud moment and all that. The point is I was still youngish then. Cool dad no doubt. I was still six months away from going back to work and losing my stay-at-home dad title. Good times man, good times.

I bring that up to brag and to make this point. That kid in the pic, with a buttery smooth swing; albeit left-handed, has grown up. Still golfs left-handed. That’s a shame for another blog post.

But it hit me the other day at his latest golf match. He’s currently playing for his middle school golf team, and I was walking the course watching him play. It wasn’t a bolt of lightning type thing, but something occurred to me while I watched him out there playing and managing his game on his own, in the middle of a competition no less.

That’s his middle school squad. Frank is in the long gray pants. Why would you smile like that wearing long pants?

By the rules of these type things, I can’t coach or give advice. Only assist with finding a lost ball. I would absolutely cheat the system and try to cheekily whisper stuff to him, but he has too much of my mother in him. That means 2 things. One, he’s a rule follower. And two, and most important, his hearing and the ability to have quiet conversation sucks. In other words, anything I say to him will be met with a response of WHAT DID YOU SAY DAD? at the top of his lungs and I’d be outed as a cheat.

But you know what else occurred to me? Rules or no, I can’t tell him anything anymore anyway. He’s about to be 13. What that means so far is this; on the golf course, he’s starting to figure it out all on his own.

And damn it if the kid didn’t out drive me on the par 4 8th at Dead Horse Lake, our local, during a practice round. I thought he must have caught the cart path or a sprinkler head. So, I did what any proud, self-respecting, dad would do. Oh bullshit Frank, here tee up another one and do that again.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what happened the second time. I leveled the field a bit on the way to the next hole though. I made him drive the cart up to the tee box and I walked under the pretense I needed to stretch out my back. Thank god there was no lake or pond between the 8th green and 9th tee box, cause that cart would have been a submarine with no sides, and he would not have found Nemo.

Bro, the bones may hurt, but the neurons still fire.

But at the actual match the next week I was hoisted by my own Pitard as it were.

Walking to the club house from the parking lot to get some water, I passed by the golf cart washing garage. The kid, and I mean kid, doing the duty pushed some stuff off the seat of the cart he was cleaning and offered me a ride to the club house. It was 20 yards away. I stopped and stared at this kid unable to form words.

Then I did.

No man I’m good.

You sure sir. It will be no problem.

It’s right there man. I’m good.

It’ll be no problem to give you a ride the rest of the way sir.

The rest of the w… Is the club house going to keep getting further away? Is it on wheels and about to drive off?

No sir.

Yeah then I’m good.


No sir on that last one. That OK was dripping with old man condescension. Like, Ok you old bastard, die on your way there see if I care. type condescension.

I mean how feeble must have I looked to that kid? I felt like I was walking with my normal brisk pace. And yet he seemed almost positive I was not going to make the last 20 yards! And before any of you country club set chime in, this is not a place where tips are a thing. It’s a public course and the kid was not shilling for a few bucks. So I’m not exactly sure what was in it for him, other than to shame an old man. Who knows.

I did let it affect me though as I turned down the spectator cart offered up to parents. It’s a nice touch but screw that. I was walking that course. Even if it was my last walk ever.

Between me and you it is actually harder to walk a golf course when you’re not playing. Lot more standing around. That is less than optimal for the old joints and such. I didn’t care. I’ll free base some Advil when I get home. Screw that kid.

Anyway, here is the kid, my kid. At the ripe age of 12 about to be 13 in mid-May. His swing is decent although not as fluid when he was 4. But who amongst us…?

Couldn’t get the clip to play so you get a still shot.

Solid move there. Head stays down an outrageous amount of time after impact. That’s a big key, and one it took me forever to figure out. He’s old school, doesn’t like using a glove, wears long pants, and goes hat/visorless. He’s only wearing a hat here because he couldn’t get his hair out of Art Garfunkel mode. Google it.

So yeah, Frank has been golfing in some form or fashion for about 8 years now.

Apparently, I’ve been aging during that time.

Who knew?

Family: Just a dinner table away.

A rare respite on a warm Saturday night. Seems so easy right now but I can’t for the life of me figure out why I don’t sit in the cul-de-sac and write more often. Girl is riding her scooter, Milo T Dog is at my feet, my long lost friend Diet Coke is losing it’s battle with the melting ice. We’re approaching some sort of Norman Rockwell worm hole.

Of course it’s not like the heyday of the Sac. Those were the lazy hazy nights, and some mornings, as we sat out in the darkness night-drinking, fixing American politics and Tennessee Football. That gang is gone now but we have to start anew at some point.

Americana in the South.

So today, at the precipice of the dog days of August, I decided was the day to take a seat and fire off something that’s been buzzing in my head since an old friend passed through town not too long ago.

I’m gonna ask your forgiveness for this obvious point, family is a great thing. A lot of you are aware I had a huge family growing up. And still do. Holidays were great. They still would be if not for the almost 700 miles separation between me and my family in Jersey. I love living in Knoxville but there are time’s I’d rather be in South Jersey. But it’s tough to complain. I’ve been spoiled my whole life. I grew up with seven brothers and sisters. My mom hasn’t skipped a beat and my father lived into his late 80s, sharp as a tack until the moment of truth.

I was born into another big family when we decided to settle in Knoxville and raise our kids there. Staying in the Sac has been one of the better decisions I’ve made. Lifelong friendships have been forged on those weekend nights in the street. But like all things, change is inevitable. Several Sac-ites have moved off, and now my forever Friday golf partner is moving to Arizona to run a church.

Honestly my first thought was how much I’d miss him. A millisecond later my next thought was how great the golfing in Arizona is and when am I slated to visit Amarillo for work again. Arizona is just a quick plane ride from the Panhandle. And I know John would be disappointed in me if I thought otherwise. And a big thanks to those of you who have reached out to check on me. I’m fine. And as John and I both agreed a long time ago, if one of us died on a Monday the other would still tee it up that Friday. And while I’m aware people will not believe this, it’s not the golf. The lunch at Soccer Taco after or the breakfast at Waffle House when we get rained out that makes the Friday meet up so enjoyable. Tough to quantify the last nine or so years breaking bread with the same dude every Friday.

And of course I lucked out again with my work family. New members are added almost daily it seems these days. And as the family “down the plant” gets bigger, and the lunch table more crowded, it keeps getting better. Like I said, spoiled rotten for as long as I can remember.

But the family roaming around my thoughts right now is my military family. Normally I’d say Air Force but now after 22 years in and almost nine retired, it occurred to me my military family not only spans different branches, it spans different countries. Hey Bernie, Go Les Habitants! I’ve been spoiled there too. Not just with great lifelong friendships but with great mentors.

I named four friends/mentors in the bio of this blog. Click on my name next to the link that says Home and you can read about them. A person could not dream up a better start to their military career than I had. That continued on during my time at the NCO Academy. I have no idea why I was granted such advantages, but I was and I’m a better person for it. I can’t imagine the giant ass I would have become without those family members in my life.

Well, yes I can.

Part of that family rolled through Knoxville a week or so ago and immediately extended an invite to dinner to catch up. I had not seen Chief Joseph E Thornell, or JET and his wife Kerry, in a long while. He was the commandant I served under the longest when I was an instructor at the NCO Academy. To this day I cannot call him Joe. Regardless of differences in opinion he will always be my commandant and will always be Chief to me. But more importantly he and Kerry will always be family.


Birthday time for the then unknown Warden.

In Jersey my whole family spent hours around the dinning room table. That’s where life happened. Witness the birthday of my youngest sister. You may know her by her given name Kathleen. But those special few know her by her real name, The Warden.

That’s me wearing a white belt on November 30th. I was a fashion risk taker even back then. I’m also sub-consciously flipping the bird. The verbalization of that gesture has become the foundation of my vocabulary.

Anyway the point is family’s just don’t eat. They break bread. They commune. The commiserate. The food is so secondary. What’s special about that space in the picture is no matter how old we got, no matter how far we moved away,  when we came to visit we gathered there.

Last Friday I met Chief Thornell and Kerry and some other old friends from my Academy days and we sat ourselves down at the dinner table. Now that table was in Calhoun’s, a restaurant in Maryville TN, but dinner is where the food is.  And family is where the dinner is.

Chief JET

Sorry Chief, still can’t call you Joe.

It was like the years since we’d seen each other never happened. We told old war stories to be sure, but the bonds between all of us showed no signs of time or distance. It seemed to me as I drove home thinking about all of that and paying zero attention to the road, sorry lady at the Kroger intersection, real family is like that.

Time is different for family. Time doesn’t have the same impact, it doesn’t move in the same way. It’s not linear. Time in familial bonds happens all at the same time regardless of distance and frequency. And then time restarts when that family sits down to eat. In fact if it wasn’t for the gray, and or lack of, hair there would be no sign that time had passed between any of us.

The restaurant itself had changed over time. Chief was quick to point out we had all gone to a lunch in this joint way back when it was a Ruby Tuesdays. I remember it as the site where part of my family, who will remain anonymous, Hupp, Stoudt, and Kumes, bet I could not take down the deluxe ice cream cake sundae on the menu. It was the kind that came with four spoons. I said, “Remove the other three my good man as I will be doing desert alone this afternoon.” That was a situation where winning quickly became losing.

Chief Davidson

Chief Davidson on my right. Ramey on my left. Family.

It must be the dinner table. Maybe it’s a time machine that turns back the clock when family members gather round. Honestly the conversation wasn’t even that profound. But the visit with Chief JET and Chief Davidson, my last commandant, and some of the gang from the academy, left me with a feeling of wonder on the ride home. I have been spoiled with some great families in my life time.

Ironically this little weepy screed is the product of time. Surely my age has left me to take stock of my life lived so far. I’m only 50 so I have no designs on the big dirt nap yet. But enough time has passed to take stock of what life has been so far. And so far, no matter where I’ve lived or served, it’s been dinner tables and family.

As far as life goes, that’s not too shabby.



Tales from the Tall Grass: Short Run on a Long Walk or Gooses Deuces

In honor of Championship Sunday at the Women’s US Open and on the eve of The Open Championship at Royal Troon in Scotland, I offer a short tale from some long grass for your reading pleasure. I’m conflicted, as the title might suggest, as to what I should call this one. Both me running on a golf course and goose poop on said same course, figure so prominently in this story I could not decide. So I went with both. Enjoy Short Run on a Long Walk or Gooses Deuces.

In case it’s not clear from a few of the pictures on this blog or my Facebook and Instagram accounts that I actually appear in, I’m not at what you would call fightin weight. I am working on it, at least on a part time basis. Well, seasonally might be a better word there. Yes I’m working on my physical health and fitness on a seasonal basis, much like a college kid in a department store at Christmas. Anyway, after twice being called out by, and ignoring, my 7yr old son that I need to exercise, I inadvertently got a real life lesson in my fitness, or lack there of.

Now it may seem like I’m projecting or flat out blaming others for what happened that one terrible day on the golf course, and that’s because I am. Months ago I downloaded the Amazon app to my phone. That app is the absolute devil in disguise, but that’s another story. The real story is while at lunch with John, my friend, counselor, Friday golf partner, you name it, I noticed he had all his wallet stuff attached to the back of his phone and no wallet in sight. He was too happy to tell me how this little stick on pocket on the back of his phone would change my life.

Curse you Amazon App!

Curse you Amazon App!

Cue the Amazon app. Not 10 minutes later mine was ordered and through the beauty of Amazon Prime, already on it’s way to my house. The pouch and it’s life changing adhesive pad was 4.99 American for two pouches; one white and one black. You know, for formal occasions. Two days later it was on my phone. The irony here is I had to use my web cam to take a picture of my camera phone. Yes I need to upgrade my web cam.

But still, you can see the glorious-ness that is the credit card pouch. I have abandoned my Castanza Wallet (see below) for good. It all comes in one convenient easy to carry thing-a-ma-bob. And that’s where the problem began on a fateful day at Deadhorse Lake Golf Club in Knoxville.

In case you missed it or was not following Frank’s Place back then, (for shame!!) I wrote a little expose about how in love I am with my phone. Read it here if you dare: Naked and Afraid: Two Hours at the Mall without my Phone.  It does everything. For the importance of this story, my phone serves as my scorecard and range finder when I play golf. So I have it in my hands almost as much as a golf club when I’m playing.

Castanza Wallet No More!

Castanza Wallet No More!

When I tried to put in our scores on the 9th hole the phone was not where it was supposed to be. Then in panic mode I could not find it anywhere in my bag. Crap! Damn you easy convenient Amazon sticky phone pouch! Now not only is my phone gone, but all the things are gone too. Military Retired ID, drivers license, Kroger discount card, not to mention my bank card, all gone. Egads! I have to find this freaking thing. So I start walking, then a quicker paced hurry. By the time I got back to the 8th green and didn’t see it I was in a full on sprint, you know as much as a 48 year old fat man can sprint. But it was continuous so I was getting cardio benefit.

At the 7th tee box I was still running and sweating. Mostly sweating. But my mind was still sharp although deaf to the calls from my playing partner standing by my bag at the 9th hole. Not sure what he was thinking as he saw me disappear over hill and dale and out of sight but it had to be funny.

Still my mind was working. It brought to me images of my bag falling over at the 5th green. Right! The wind pushed it over and I just picked it up without checking to see if everything was still in it. So off I go, running on the cart path back to the 5th green. Golf courses can be dangerous enough, but when you are moving in the opposite direction of play like I was, moving from 9 all the way to the 5th green, it can be a suicidal shooting gallery. So I figured it best to stay on the path instead of trying to navigate across fairways and greens.

Along the way the kind golfers I passed tested my fitness and aerobic condition by asking me questions as I trundled by. Appreciative as I was of their concern for my well being, I had no time to talk or air to waste. Somewhere out there was my phone/wallet.

Cresting the hill on the 6th tee box, what had been a search and recover mission turned into a full on quest. I would make it to the 5th green, on the run without stopping, or the heavens will fall.

Coming over the hill on the 5th fairway, now able to peer down to the 5th green, my spirit was torn asunder. No phone/wallet, at least that I could tell from about 200 yards out. But I soldiered on. Getting to the 5th green there was no sign of my wallet. Hmmm I wonder if those other gofers were trying to get my attention to tell me they had picked it up. So much for my mind working. About face. And I’m on the quick time again back up the 5th fairway.

Funny thing about golf courses, the hills run in both directions. By the 7th tee box, still running, I was seeing scenes of the after life. I always thought I might buy the farm right after hitting my first hole in one, or breaking par. Of course that would be the case, so I’d have no time to enjoy those events. But now it seemed for all the world my ticker would blow trying to run up the cart path at the 8th green and get back to my bag.

Secretly I had hoped John, my playing partner, went to get a golf cart to come rescue me. A blasphemy I know, we always walk when we play golf, but this was as desperate a time as there was. The golf gods would just have to understand. Descending to the 9th green and into a dark, now mile long run inducing delirium at the same time, I noticed John standing by my bag. In a moment of clarity I can see something in his hand. Could it be my wallet/phone! Huzzah! All is saved! But what is his other hand doing? His other hand appears to be pointing to my bag for some rea…. Oh crap.

Yep, I just ran a little over a mile to find my wallet/phone that was apparently in my bag the whole time. I panicked so quickly after doing just a cursory search in the bag that I looked right at the phone and completely missed it. John is pretty gracious. He explained where and how he found it and how he tried to summon me back. But it appeared I was on a mission so he just waited by my bag figuring I would return some day. Not much ball busting. But he did say something that caught me completely off guard.

“I dropped it in goose poop.”

Ah wut? On purpose?

“No. I dropped it and it fell in a pile of goose poop.”

Well I guess that’s the icing on the cake for this saga, if you’ll permit my strangling of a wholesome metaphor.

As I said, we walk when we play golf. Even in the blinding heat of a day like the day I lost/didn’t lose my phone. Charity tournaments and really expensive courses that won’t let you walk are the only times we are forced to ride. So week after week we essentially walk and carry our clubs 2 to 3 miles every time we play. That walk usually precipitates a hearty nap in the afternoon. Add in a mile long run in sweltering heat and another 9 holes to play you can imagine my afternoon slumber. Safe to say I felt like goose poop by the time we finished.

Golf: the struggle is real people.