Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The universal language

Some people say love is the universal language. I say it's golf.

I'm on my way from the tube station to the Northwick Park Golf Course - about a 10 minute walk - when a man starts yelling at me from across the street. He's at a bus stop outside the local hospital. I'm lugging a duffel full of golf shirts, a laptop backpack and my golf clubs. Struggling, actually. I think that's why he noticed me.

"Are you coming or going?" he yelled again.

I assumed he meant to the golf course, and I said, "Going."

So, he walks across the street, extends a big paw and said, "I'm Wolf - like the Big Bad Wolf."

"Eric," I replied, glad for a break from dragging my gear.

Wolf talked and talked and talked. His son lives in Denver, but Wolf and his wife can't move to the States because he has cancer, and she has Alzheimer's. And according to Wolf - and millions of other people - the health care system in the U.S. sucks.

But it was what he said about golf that really hit home. When he played regularly, he was a 3 handicap. He's been playing since 1969, and he had one piece of advice for me.

You drive for show and putt for dough.

This is the mantra that I've heard since I started playing. Who knows when and where that started, but it's ingrained in golfers around the world, I guess. I know that Wolf is trying to spread the word - as am I.

I tried to get Wolf to accompany me to Northwick, but he declined. I think the hospital scrubs or gown that he was wearing meant that he'd just been released from some cancer treatment. I wish him well.

Wolf is a great ambassador for the U.K., and he's a great ambassador for golf. He saw some guy with a set of clubs, and he wanted to make sure I knew what you drove for and what you putted for.

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