October in Minnesota...for some, this time of year is when you're trying to get those last rounds in before the snow blankets the fairways, and, for others, golf season was buttoned up not long after kids go back to school and the sun sets not long after dinner
This October, for me anyway, has a different meaning. One of my favorite golfing pals unexpectedly passed away this weekend and I'm hoping that remembering him here, now, will help fill the hole in my heart.
While I'll battle tears as I write, I'm already smiling thinking about Butch. I met him when I worked at our local course in the mid 90's. He would drive up in his sea green Ford Probe and often times play golf alone in the afternoons. A few times back then I played with him...I'll be honest - he intimidated me...he was quiet, but also direct...and a good golfer. But he always welcomed me to play along if I could find a few free hours.
Butch was a great supporter of the course and our little restaurant. I remember one year, at the end of the season, we were trying to get rid of our last inventory and he bought bread and lunch meat, even though he probably didn't need it. That's who he was.
I got to know him a lot better after being invited into the most exclusive foursome I knew...after our friend Looper passed away I was invited to be the new 4th with Butch, Coach, and Super. I cried then, too, when they asked me - filling Looper's shoes was a big ask, but I've never felt more welcome or included. It is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Playing with these three, I learned a lot about golf games...and negotiations. I swear, it may have been more fun for them than the actual golf!! The trash talking was relentless and often there would be fake pity for injuries or lack of playing. Butch was classic for reminding us all that he NEVER got to play...he may not even know where his clubs are or maybe they were sold in a rummage sale. But miraculously he would show up, early of course, and the smooth swing was right there, too.
For the record, I was never part of the negotiations...my partner, Super, was well, a master. Watching Coach and Butch put together their offers together was fantastic - and while Butch might appear intimidating, he was always the one who would end up caving in to Super's offers and Coach would just shake his head. It was hilarious.
I found some old emails that summed up our group...2011:
Butch: "Good for me I'll pick up everybody, we'll figure out a time, do we have time for range to warm up? I say we get there about 6:30am"
Super: "Warm up- What is that?"
Coach: "Butch, Please don’t respond to their e-mails…I don’t want you to agree to any negotiations they may throw out there."
Super: "Why does it have to turn adversary before we start. Can’t we all just get along."
Butch: "I say we get a couple a side...we go to Lutsen we win, we go to Fortune Bay we win...looks like this is our last time to Giants Ridge... In a few years there'll be no where else they can try"
Me: "Partner, Just an FYI - Butch was knocking the "low round ever on the Lake 9" door when we played last week. I on the other hand took a quad and triple in my round last week at Enger."
Butch: "Double, double, double, bogey finish, golf is an 18 hole game & I have 18 holes in in 2011"
Super: "May I suggest we meet in the Lakeview National parking lot at 6:15 AM or is Butch picking us up at our houses so Coach is not late? Negotiating can NOT start until 7:00 AM"
Butch: "I will pick my partner up at his house at 6am, the opponents don't get the premium service
In 12 hours the fun begins:"
I love this. So much.
For the record...I'm pretty sure Super and I won that year!! I distinctly remember hitting a drive left into some trees and it kicked right out into the middle of the fairway - I knew it was Looper helping me out!!
In the past couple of years, schedules and health issues did make us miss playing together - but Butch played with us last year in a football fundraiser - it was some of the worst rain I'd ever golfed in, but we had a blast!!
I'm heartbroken that we didn't have one more time...one more time to see that smooth swing, that putting stroke (his putting stroke was a little Steve Striker like!), his walk...which at times looked like he was stiff as a board, and his smile.
I will smile more when I think of him, after the shock of this wears off...and I'll remember that being together is what matters...I'm beyond blessed for the times we golfed, talked, laughed, and appreciated life and our friendships.
I will leave with this...from 2013 as we are trying to find a date to play. From Butch to me:
"I'll believe it when I see it. "Your partner" is so full of hot air, I can't stand it!
I'll play anytime, anywhere.
Well not really but I'm all for playing. Remember I played a total of 3 rounds in 2012. Rusty does not begin to describe..."
I'll miss you forever.
I love golf and I love to write, so I can't think of anything better than having a happy place like this to write about golf to my heart's content. Thanks for joining me!