Vintage Vignette: Lehi’s greatest golfer
In 1968 my brothers Jim and John, along with friends, Kyle Zimmerman, Rob Yates and Guy Sorenson spent countless hours building a two-hole golf course in Wines Park. Both holes on the make-shift course were about 100 yards apart and were deemed “par threes.” Wines Park was just across the street from our house on Center Street and it seemed like Jim and John were there from the moment they got home from school until long after the sun went down.
Dad was pretty frustrated with their lack of attention to chores like mowing our own lawn, taking out the garbage, and helping the girls with dinner dishes. He and mom would hound me to go to the park and get the boys home for dinner. Often, friends would leave, and the two Fowler boys would be hitting golf balls until dark.
I recall one night when they came home long after dark and said they could hit the ball at the two manicured home-made greens then find their golf balls with a flashlight. One lad would chip and putt until the ball rolled into the Campbell’s soup can cup while the other brother held the flashlight. City maintenance crews loved the fact that Jim and John had mowed two large parcels of grass and told the city workers to “never mind” cutting their flat and beautiful “greens.” The boys tromped the grass down and scraped away all night-crawler mounds before precisely burying the soup can hole even with the level of the finely cut grass.
I was not an avid golfer but must admit that their laughter and screams of “that’s a par!” took me across the street to the park where I would jump into the game and try to get the ball in the cup with three strokes. I never made it in three shots but did hit several bogies (one stroke over par). Jim and John scored par threes quite often. They sometimes had a neighborhood gallery of onlookers who yelled and cheered on the good golf shots.
Finally, on a brisk April Saturday in early 1968, dad’s patience hit the wall. He disliked the game of golf anyway and always said, “who could possibly want to waste their time beating a worthless little white ball with a club through the grass until it goes into a stupid little hole.” He also disliked football and burned my old cleats the first day I came home from football practice in the 9th grade. “Basketball…now that is the game for a boy to pursue,” he always said.
On this day, he yelled at the boys to come help him finish painting his 40-foot freight trailer. They waved and said “okay!” But, a half hour later, they never showed up and his anger was at a boiling point. He strode across the street where the boys stopped their game and began trembling as they viewed his stern look and clenched jaw. “Get your butts home!” he said. Dad was very upset at their disobedience. Discipline was judiciously dispensed in Fowler-ville by both mom and dad. John very meekly stated, “dad, look at what we’ve done” as he pointed to the beautiful greens, the soup can hole and then my young brother had the audacity to hand the ball and golf club to dad. “Here dad, can you see our flag down there tied to the top of a broom handle? That’s the other hole. Try to hit this ball near that flag stick…it’s fun.” Dad tossed the ball to the ground then grasped the club in both hands and waved it menacingly in the air.
For a moment Jim and John feared what he might do with the club. He walked briskly over to the ball, took a swing or two near the ground where the ball was nestled in the grass, and finally lined up the head of the golf club with the small white orb, aligned his feet and smacked the ball with his sinewy strong arms. It was the first time in his life he had ever struck a golf ball. Amazingly, the hit was solid and pretty straight. Jim and John stood with their jaws dropping lower and lower. Their eyes widened in stunned disbelief. The ball was a low flying line-drive headed straight for the distant green. It hit about thirty feet in front of the green, bounced three times and rolled perfectly up to the broom stick flag and dropped into the cup.
“A hole in one! A hole in one! A hole in one!” they screamed. The boys jumped into the air with unbridled jubilation at what they had witnessed. After a moment, dad simply dropped the club and said, “I told you this stupid game was a waste of time. Now git home and help me finish painting the trailer!” Both boys laughed and danced their way happily across the street at the heels of their hero dad, undoubtedly, Lehi’s greatest golfer!