The Golf Course

     Having grown up right down the street from a popular golf course and club, I am an authority on the entertainment and great fun that kids can have using it as a vast playground.  It was like our own personal recreation center.

     Most of our fun took place after the golfers vacated the links.  It would be very difficult to do much of anything if we had to dodge golf balls.  We often would feel quite put out if there were late groups of golfers that we would have to wait for to finish their play in the afternoon or early evening.

     During the long, summer months, my brothers and their friends often used the fairways as a football field.  There would be groups of kids on the sidelines watching the action–some waiting to have a turn in the game–others just cheering on their favorites.

     My girlfriends, and sisters and I would practice cartwheels and cheers and my best friend taught me how to do my first backbend out on the golf course.  We also took our batons out there to practice our favorite twirling moves.  We would oftentimes lie up on the slope between the fairway and the green and stare up into the air watching the clouds shift their shapes and move across the sky.  We saw so much…

     My best friend and I also had a favorite tree on the golf course.  It was a tall, wide and sturdy oak with broad, thick branches that we would lay on and feel the breezes blowing through.  It was so calming and relaxing to lie there–hidden in the leaves while watching the world go by from our protected vantage point.

     We also loved to dig in the bunkers (sand traps) and make castles or cover ourselves in the fine, cool, white sand.  We always used the rakes left out there to smooth over our creations after we were done.  That was fun too–raking the sand.  On occasion, one of the neighbors would come out and yell at us to get out of there–we had no clue as to how we could possibly be bothering her.  Years later, after becoming a golfer myself, I realized that what we did was probably not the best thing to have been doing.  But all we knew was that they were like a giant sandbox just screaming for us to jump in.  If there was a pile of dirt anywhere, we were drawn to it like a kid to a candy shop.

     It was a favorite place to find lightning bugs on late summer evenings too.  Their bright, twinkling lights showed up very well in the wooded areas on the outskirts of the fairways.  Those bugs gave a magical, fairyland feel to our neighborhood nights.

Another fun thing to do in the summer was to watch the bats come out at dusk.  They could very clearly be seen in the open space of the golf course.  Their erratic flight while they looked for bugs thrilled us.  Sometimes we would throw our shoes up and watch them dart quickly after them thinking they may be a food source.

     We explored the water hazards, sometimes wading in to find abandoned golf balls that we would then sell back to the golfers.  We would find minnows and tadpoles, crayfish and other interesting things in the water.  Many wading birds and ducks could be found in the waters too.

     One of my brothers went through a snake hunting phase and would bring various snakes home that he had caught–many of them found around the lush, wooded areas around the golf course.  He wasn’t allowed to keep them for any length of time but I do remember a wooden box with a screen-covered top that he had made to temporarily house them until our mother would finally command him to turn them loose.  I wasn’t afraid of them and would touch their smooth, sleek, scaled skin while he gently held the head well away from me.  On occasion, he would find one that was shedding its skin–we were particularly fascinated by that process.  None were poisonous of course.

     The club house had a swimming pool to which my best friend and I would ride our bikes to on blistering, summer days.  It cost fifty cents for an all day swim in the pool.  It was bliss.  We would explore the clubhouse, maybe buy a Coke or snack and swim until our eyes were bloodshot–we got our money’s worth.

     That same pool was the object of some of our late night adventures when we were teenagers.  We would put our swimsuits on, grab a towel and walk up to the clubhouse in the late hours of the night and slip into the cool water of the pool if we could get away with it.  One big obstacle to this plan was Cottentop.

     Cottentop, as we kids (un-affectionately) called him, because of his bright, white hair, was the grounds keeper in charge of the golf course.  He was the bane of our fun.  He patrolled around in a golf cart–his shock of white hair could be spotted from quite a distance and we would sound the alarm with a scream that “Cottentop’s coming!” if he came towards our direction.  We would take off and scatter until the coast was clear.

     We also would play in the gigantic sprinklers used to water the course at night.  Donning our bathing suits, we would scamper around and dash in and out of the cool, spraying water.  There were no boundaries to the fun that we would take advantage of.

     When we became older and had outgrown the digging in the bunkers, sprinklers, etc, we would spend time gazing up at the stars with a sister or brother or two.  We would recline out there in the darkness and observe the thousands of stars in our view and occasionally spot them shooting across the sky.  And later, when we came to be interested in our spiritual nature, we would spend hours contemplating life and sharing philosophical ideas with each other, lying out there in the moonlight.  Some of my dates would end up out there too–we would lie in the soft grass, gazing far up into the sky while cuddling.

     The golf course was such a fundamental part of my growing up.  So many good memories are bound to it–hiking, exploring, observing nature and looking for God–I found Her there.

This is a postcard picture of what the pool looked like when I swam there as a child.

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  1. jgavinallan

     /  June 25, 2011

    I love the pool…I was in one today….lol
    Gayle, though it was non-fiction, the story flowed and held my interest(and anyone else.) Characters were of interest and possessed qualities that would make them noteworhty of fictional adventures..your brother with those snakes…Yik!
    I think you can be a good story-teller. I refer back to Ouija Board—still scares me.
    Lovely piece—shows the various talents a poet needs.


    • Swimming was a big part of my summers when I was growing up. 🙂

      I’m glad you liked this–just thought of sharing my adventures on the golf course. I like the idea of being a good story teller! Thanks so much, Jaye.

      Gayle xoxo


  2. awesome shot.

    Reminding you to join jingle poetry potluck week 41 tonight.
    Any poems are welcome.
    Always, your poetry is sunshine to us!
    Bless your weekend.


  3. We lived on a golf course for 6 months when we first moved to Florida. It was a nightmare waking up at 5 a.m. to the sounds of the water srpinkler and at 7 a.m. the grass cutters were out. It was always green. LOLOL
    Oh, and my daughter loved collecting the stray golf balls. ~~~~ : – )

    This is a very nice story about a childhood filled with adventure. Pools are GREAT for keeping children occupied on those horribly HOT summer days.
    These sound like very happy memories.

    Good job again, Gayle,

    Izzy ~~~ : –


    • Well, luckily we lived just down the street (a couple of houses) so we didn’t hear all that grass-maintaining noise! But as a kid, I don’t think there was much of anything that could have disturbed my sleep.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my story, Izzy–thanks so much. And thanks for sharing your golf course memories too!



  4. Sounds idllic, though I think I could pass on the bats at night. We did have fruit bats when we lived on acreage.

    Love all your adventures. 🙂



    • That would be “idyllic.”


      • Yes, we kids had a lot of fun and were pretty free to roam far and wide… I got used to those bats–they never swooped so low as to scare me!

        Thanks for enjoying my adventure stories, Jamie.



  5. living near a golf club, and if you can enter the premises can be a magical experience for a child.

    till date i have come across only two persons who lived near one, i never had the chance to ask her but she might have had the liberty of entering golf course too, a girl that worked in that hellish advertisement agency arundhati chakraborti.


    • I don’t know about kids today but we were very active with that golf course. Probably children today don’t have the same freedom to explore the way we once did.

      I’m very glad that we were able to enjoy it so much.

      My brother, Tom and I took a very long walk on that same golf course last night after dinner. My brother found about six or seven golf balls!


      • that must have been a great experience. it reminds me of our walks in the fields around tundla. being right in the middle of pure, untamed nature is a divine experience.


        • Sounds like a similar situation as yours–any untamed natural scene is very attractive to children. We had a stand of woods behind our house too–so much fun…


          • well in tundla it was not wood, only miles of curvy land with some waterbodies, small clusters of trees.

            i would have loved to have a wood nearby my home, with some wild creatures in it 🙂


  6. Your nature scene sounds very attractive too–I’m sure I would have loved to explore there.

    We had so much fun in those woods–funny thing, I don’t remember ever seeing any wild creatures–only birds. They must have hid from us during our daytime play hours. 🙂


    • i think only birds come out in human presence because they know they can fly away.

      i too have never seen any thing but birds in tundla.


      • Even though we did have rabbits, raccoons, opossums, and an occasional fox spotted pretty routinely in our neighborhood–we never came across them during our time in the woods. I guess they are expert at hiding. And the birds could always get away from us. : )


        • my siblings have seen rabbits and foxes, i somehow failed them. i saw peacocks of course. they somehow compensated 🙂


  7. Wow, thank you so much for sharing these memories with us! You reminded me about what it was like to be a kid in summer. 🙂 I never thought of a golf course as being all that, but I can see how it made a huge impression on you! I could relate to watching the bats come out at night though – we used to tie up our socks and throw them up in the air by the subdivision streetlights to watch them, too!


    • I’m glad I could spark some memories in you too. The summers were the best times when growing up! But it seems like the golf course could be a source of fun any time of year.

      It’s cool that you had some bat memories too. I still see them most evenings flying at dusk around the light poles in front of my house. 🙂



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