Ahh! The Golf Course Life!

October 2018

Margot Oxendine

have spent a good portion of my life living across from, or actually on, a golf course.

I do not play golf. I should, I guess, but I think it requires two things I have in very short supply: patience and a certain athletic skill.

I possess just one lick of athletic skill: Give me a swimming pool, I’m in there, showing off with butterflies and the Australian crawl. But never on anything that could be considered a playing field. In elementary and high school, I was always the last kid picked for any team. The captain would get a worried look in his or her eye as the selection dwindled down. Finally, they’d sigh and grudgingly call my name. And I’d grudgingly trudge way out into right field. Heaven forbid a ball would somehow make it toward my position. I’d fumble or miss it every single time. I think it was Mark Twain who called golf “a good walk, spoiled.” I’d much prefer the good walk, which I manage to work into almost every day. No one is keeping score during a walk.

The idea of living on or near a golf course sounds rather idyllic, doesn’t it? Lots of green grass and wooded areas. No noisy, nosy neighbors; no yapping dogs; no boisterous children clamoring about.

Well, let me tell you what it’s really like, much of the time: Noisy, with boisterous grown children clamoring about. Not to mention the machinery. Oh, the machinery it takes to keep a golf course looking pristine and inviting. Here’s a little secret: Lots of golf-course maintenance takes place in the deep, dark of night. We might have been sleeping on 42nd Street, it was so busy out there.

Most of my golf-course living was spent in a lovely big house that was “in play,” should a ball happen to land there. We were plopped right down by the Number 9 hole. Strangers were constantly wandering in our backyard. Or worse.

Yes, we had the occasional desperate golfer, knocking on the door, begging to use our bathroom. At least, they’d take off their cleated shoes before coming inside.

The house had a great wraparound porch, where we’d sit outside almost every summer and spring evening. Most of it was screened, but not all. One evening, we’re sitting out there in our wicker chairs, and —BANG! —a golf ball whizzes in and literally knocks Mom right off her rocker. Another time, Daddy was grilling in what we called our “backyard,” which was actually part of the course. A ball comes flying in, hits him in the backside, and drops to the ground. Daddy, a jokester at heart, decided he’d splay himself on the ground with the golf ball next to his ear. We were looking out the window giggling, but the golfer did not seem the least amused when he discovered the prank.

One afternoon, a terrific thunderstorm arose. It is not smart to be grasping a metal club in a storm. Daddy went out to call and motion all the golfers in the vicinity to come take shelter on the porch. There were about 22 people milling around out there. Daddy suggested I go out and take drink orders. This did not please me, because I worked as a bartender at the time. Who wants to work while relaxing at home? Later, a friend who’d driven by asked me why I hadn’t invited her to my party.

Today, I live across from a beautiful golf course, lauded in travel magazines as one of the best in Virginia. I was awakened at 6 a.m. by the sounds of loud machinery. This is an almost-daily occurrence. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, and tune it out.

I know the machinery will quiet down as soon as the golfers get on the course. They’re out there shouting “Fore!” and lots of other four-letter words, which echo off the mountains and down the valley. They laugh it up, shout back and forth at each other, and some have recently decided to bring along “boom boxes” (how old am I?), which blare hip-hop music. I sit on my porch and feel as if I may be at a beach on Memorial Day.

Meanwhile, another neighbor, who has somehow acquired an entire truck full of logs, gets busy with his chainsaw, creating firewood.

Ah, the quietude of rural living.

To order Margo’s book, “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147 Monday-Thursday 9-5, or email: TheRecorderOffice@gmail.com.