“Land ahoy, tomboy.”
Good morning to you too.”
I was with my old friend Herb Wind and we were talking about this and that. We were nowhere near the sea. In fact we were on a golf course, which is how we met and how our friendship had its beginning, middle and end. We talked about many things, and I learned so much from him. Despite that, he was fun to be with. Although he was 62 when we reconnected after 20 years, he seemed infinitely chaste and sweet, a very far cry from Dominque Strauss-Kahn (lol).
I lit a cigarette. He had stopped years ago. He still missed it he said and asked me to blow some smoke his way. When he smiled, his eyes shut.
I was a golf champion and he was a champion golf writer. I told Herb that I was getting very tired of golf.
“You’re too smart to be a golfer.”
“It’s not serious enough for me. I want real life.”
“You have to know when to walk away.”
‘Yeah, but sometimes you get it wrong.”
Well, I walked away and I never struck lightning again. And he stayed a great golf writer, writing all kinds of good stuff. Serious stuff too. He could manage to make golf seem very important and at the same time only a part of life. And the only way I could get golf not to be my whole life was to walk away from it.
We were once talking about women’s golf and I said that a current golfer who had won a bunch of national titles didn’t have a very good swing yet sometimes, though it looked like she had hit a terrible shot, the ball ended up two feet from the pin. “That’s true of her,” Herb replied. “Under great pressure, she plays better than she can.” I knew exactly what he meant, but would never have been able to nail it with those words. I told him that, and he – quite pleased with himself – quickly gave the credit to William Wordsworth, who has remained my favorite poet. And Herb also turned me on to Edith Wharton’s novels and her very personal view of the world, which made the first dent in my seriously untruthful education.
“I’m John Wesley Skypes.”
“The only other person I knew who used his three names was Herbert Warren Wind. He was a sportswriter.”
Oh, are you? I mean was he?”
Speaking at Herbert Warren Wind’s induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Jerry Tarde quoted Herb as saying about Bobby Jones that he was able to stand up to just about the best that life can offer, which isn’t easy, and later, he stood up with equal grace to just about the worst.
Simply by listening to Tarde’s final words of eulogy, those present got their money’s worth: “You’re in, Herb. Well bold.” At first, I didn’t get it – those last two words. Then I did get it. Those two words epitomize a life well and purely played – in golf, in literature, and in the living of it.