I was asked last year to come and participate in a panel discussion for our chaplains where I and two other chaplains (two of us retired, one active duty – all of us Navy) were to address the topic, “Being a Christian in a Hostile World.” It was a wonderful experience, but I digress.
Leaving my brother’s home in Virginia near Washington DC, we decided to make the drive to Orlando a two-day affair. So the first evening we stayed at the Navy Lodge at NAS (Naval Air Station) Jacksonville, Florida. I was stationed there as a young Marine from 1970-71 where I attended the school for learning to become an AE (Aviation Electrician). That was my job in the Marine Corps – I fixed the electronic components of our “fast movers.” That’s a euphemism for Fighter jets and Attack aircraft. During my four years on active duty I worked on A4s, F4s, EA6As, and T-A4s. But I digress.
Upon leaving the Jacksonville area we drove toward Orlando expecting to arrive sometime in the early afternoon. However, as we approached St. Augustine we spied a billboard announcing the World Golf Village. Isaura said, much to my delight, “Why don’t we stop and visit this place!” Well, what could I say but, “Yes!”
We took the exit and soon found ourselves in a beautifully laid out setting where the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum is on full display. We dodged a few raindrops, but otherwise it was a delightful experience. Isaura, who is not a golfer, even bought me a World Golf bag tag which now is securely ensconced on my golf bag. The museum was very well done, taking us through a series of golf events going back to the early days of golf in the mid-1800s with Old Tom Morris and right up to today. I would imagine the powers-that-be are making room for 21-year-old Jordan Speith who may well have won the British Open by the time you read this article.
The grounds at the World Golf Village are massive with two 18 hole courses, fountains, shops, and plenty of homes and apartments for those who wish to wile away their days in this luxurious setting. The museum highlighted quite a few of golf’s stars, such as Bobby Jones, Anika Sorenstam, Jack Nicholas, Arnold Palmer, Nancy Lopez, Tiger Woods, and Gary Player, etc., offering personal background sketches of these individuals explaining how they arrived at the pinnacle of their game.
We spent five hours at the World Golf Village! That was not in our plans, I can assure you! We made it to Orlando in time for a late dinner at Bravo’s. Isaura and I loved it! Great food, service and atmosphere!
But all of this caused me to want to get home so I could watch my granddaughter Alyssa play in her second golf tournament. She is seven and is currently playing in the PGA Juniors program which our club is hosting. Older kids are paired with younger kids and then they play against each other. The first tournament for Alyssa was last week, so I missed that one. But Sunday was her second one. After church I had a brunch, took a nap, and then arrived at the club for the grand privilege of watching Alyssa play with her partner Aiden (13-years-old). They use a Scramble format which is a benefit to the weaker, or less experienced player.
I began teaching Alyssa to play golf when she was five. She seems to really enjoy it, so we keep working on her skills with the game. She and Aiden won their match today which put a smile on her face, and on mine!
Watching these young kids swing a golf club with all of their flexibility and rhythm makes me wish there had been something like this when I was a young kid. But I thoroughly enjoyed watching all the kids play today, cheering and clapping for each one as they made their shots.
Learning to play this game at an early age is great for them as they move through life. There are constant challenges in golf that each player must face and conquer, just as there are in life. There’s great satisfaction in mastering a particularly troublesome shot or hole. True for life, as well.
So after my young golf prodigy put her clubs away for the day, Alyssa, along with her parents and I adjourned to the club dining room for a cold drink. The waitress came to the table with a root beer float for Alyssa. Her eyes got real big, and her smile was infectious. A nice way to end the day.
It may not be the World Golf Hall of Fame, but it is our slice of the golf world and we love it!