My First Round of Golf Was Special

Virgil Opfer

I have been playing tennis since high school, but I had never played golf.  I would sometimes be questioned, “Do you play golf?”  I had always responded, “No, I play tennis; I may take up golf when I get older.”

For my birthday in 2018, Chet said, “You’re now 81, so I think you are old enough to start playing.”  Chet presented me with prepaid lessons with the golf pro at Boulder Oaks Golf Course.

As a partner in Geezers Golf, I felt that I should at least try the game.  After a few lessons, I felt I was ready to go on a golf course for the very first time.  Chet had purchased a new set of clubs and given me the set he had been playing with for years.

It was October 31, 2018, Chet took me to Oaks North in Rancho Bernardo to play nine holes on the north course.  It was a magically soft Southern California day, with the sun low in the sky and the rays of sunlight made the trees and shrubs glow in that special way that only happens in the late afternoon.  The course was perfectly groomed and, remarkably, during the entire round there were no other players in sight ahead of us or behind us.  It was like we were playing on our own private course.  With no players behind us we had all of the time in the world to set our own pace. 

I asked Chet to totally ignore the strict golf etiquette of not commenting on the other player’s form or choice of clubs.  I said, “Chet, I need all of the help I can get, please let me know what I am doing wrong and help me select the right club.”  Chet lit up at my invitation for instruction.  With great patience and diplomacy, Chet helped me through the round.  Chet loved to bet on golf, but always for small amounts.  He gave me a completely arbitrary handicap and we made a $1.00 bet on the round.  I hit a few long straight drives that gave me a really great feeling.  I had one shot where I wanted to use a 9 iron to hit over a tree.  Chet was doubtful that I should try the shot but, with nobody watching, I decided to try it anyway.  It turned out to be a great shot, over a tall oak tree and onto the green.  The shot amazed us both.  At the end of day, with my generous handicap, we had tied the round.  As we headed back to the car, I thanked Chet for his help and told him that it had been a really special afternoon.  I asked him, “Is golf always this much fun?”  Chet just gave me a wry grin and didn’t answer my question.

I played several more times in the following months, including finally playing a full 18 holes on a full size course.  I then realized why Chet had not answered my question, for me it was not the same as that first round at Oaks North.  I found that golf was not that much fun for me.  Unfortunately, I had waited much too long to get started with the game.  However, I will always be grateful to Chet for that very special first round of golf.