, Newburyport, MA


July 10, 2013

Old putter links the memories

For close to 60 years I have been a golfer, yet I still use the same putter — a Walter Hagen blade model — that I used as a boy.

I’m not the world’s greatest putter, but I’m not bad either. I’m comfortable with the putter I have, so I keep using it. We’ve been through a long history together.

As a boy, I played golf with my folks and my brother with the original set of clubs. Fifty years later, long after the death of my father, I was still using the putter from that set in weekly rounds of golf with my 86-year-old mother.

“I looked forward to playing with you, to packing you a lunch,” she said of my visits. “I’m so happy you came up as often as you did. It was something I could do with my child besides sitting in the living room and talking.”

In between, as teenagers, a favorite cousin and I spent summers at each other’s homes and played golf. At my home course in Athol, we once went around six times in a day for a total of 54 holes. One summer I broke 40 for the first time, sinking the final putt with my Walter Hagen blade. I still have the scorecard.

“Yes, we once played 54 holes of golf,” my cousin confirmed years later. “Each time we played, your mom made us tuna sandwiches. She was wonderful to me, even if she may have thought I was a little bit of a hellion. Those were great times.”

My father, brother and I also played with a favorite uncle. It was always a treat for us youngsters, as he called us. He offered us little tips, but it was the good-natured kidding that made us look up to him. Small and wiry, he had a chronic smile on his face, a pipe clenched in his teeth. His eyes twinkled behind wire-rimmed glasses.

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