Opinion » Note

The De-Nixonification of Golf

Family lessons are brought to bear on the newest addition to Boise's golf portfolio.

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My grandmother came from a family of Franklin Roosevelt Democrats, so it was to her everlasting shame that she voted for Richard Nixon--twice. She brought it up from time to time, even as she neared 90, but her regret was tempered a bit by the memory of her revenge on Tricky Dick.

As far as I can remember--and, alas, I can no longer ask her for the details--the story went that she and my grandfather (both fanatic golfers) were playing on a course with friends somewhere in Southern California when Nixon and his entourage of Secret Service cut ahead of them on the ninth hole. Nixon waved to the crowd through his cordon of black suits and turned to the group including my grandmother. The way my grandma told it, he cracked that crooked grin of his and she crossed her arms, shot him her most withering glare and turned her back on him. This was obviously a proud moment in Hagadone family history--at least for grandma and me.

Golf was a big part of my upbringing; but despite crack-of-dawn lessons starting at age 10 or so, I was never much good at it. When I wasn't slicing balls into the adjacent fairway, I was plinking them off the old rail cars that stood forever idled on the tracks that ran next to the Elks Club in Sandpoint. I much preferred the driving range but if my dad, brother and I were going to play a course, it was usually a run-down, worm-eaten nine-hole called Midas, where the "pro shop" doubled as a gas-and-bait shop.

It was a course only in the academic sense: It had holes and a map of the fairways and greens (there wasn't much difference). But there you could hack away with abandon, unafraid of witnesses to your worm-burners, pop-ups or soul-jarring shanks. The time I chipped onto the green at the seventh hole--a rare, beautiful shot--only to find my ball amid a swarm of ground hornets, is a treasured memory.

Golf is often considered a sport for the rich, old or schmoozy. But youth golf is a good antidote to that perception. Boise youth will have another opportunity to enjoy the sport, with the addition of Quail Hollow Golf Club to the city's portfolio of public courses (see Rec, Page 24). It certainly worked for me--those times at Midas with my dad and brother, munching candy bars and lofting ugly shots with my dented, hand-me-down Sam Sneads. That and my grandma, turning her back on rich, old, schmoozy Dick Nixon.

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