Saturday, June 1, 2013

Fort Worth Tradition

Cause good memories don’t fade so easy
Does Fort Worth ever cross your mind – from the words of a great song from George Strait

And Fort Worth's such a wonderful town to disappear into
On the muscle of my arm there's a red and blue tattoo
Says, Fort Worth I love you – and more lyrics, these from Michael Martin Murphy

Don’t ya love this Texas town? Embracing its roughneck history, Fort Worth preserved the brick streets and notorious buildings in The Stockyards while also promoting the fine arts in the renowned museums and performance halls. Downtown has a vibrant and safe environment for nightlife.  Classic restaurants, such as Joe T.’s and Riscky’s, have survived the tests of time and long established neighborhoods and parks coexist comfortably with the inevitable new. My true Texan husband was born here. Our aunts, uncles and cousins have called this laid back city home.

Something deep in my brain likes semblance of order and tradition.  It gives me balance, connection to the past and hope for the future.  A great experience in the regular Fort Worth calendar is The Colonial, the yearly local PGA tournament.  Throughout our years of living in the DFW area Darrell and I have attended the golf festivities several times and this year once again lived up to our highest expectations.  Many in the crowd, I suspect, are weekend golfers coming to the show of their pro heroes.  They are thinking or wishing, “I could do that”, as they watch great shots as well as mega flubs.  Some are just there because their parents brought them to enjoy the outdoors (or didn’t get a babysitter):  little ones in parents’ arms or toted in strollers.  Others are there to accompany family who has golf interests:  women in their lawn chairs reading books and drinking wine.  Some are there to work in concessions raising money for special groups:  Nolan Catholic booster club, Arlington High Orchestra, Knights of Columbus, etc.  Others are there to earn their pay in sports related jobs:  Randy Galloway, Landry Locker,etc. I found myself there in an imaginary field trip (the teacher/student life does not really leave you when you retire) where lessons were evident demonstrating math, science, history, literature, sociology, logistics, marketing, psychology and fashion. Ah, what a great setting to be schooled!

Those who know me know I am definitely NOT a golfer!  I took lessons along with my friend Cassandra with the goal of playing with my husband and sons.  This never lead to a full round of golf, though I tried.  Something lacking in my brain, hand, eye, body coordination!  Darrell and I did recently participate as guests of our friends, The Leases, in a charity golf tournament for GRACE.  It was a fun night at Grapevine Golf Course with BBQ dinner, Lexus Lemonade and glow in the dark balls.  It was a scramble and my shots were never used in the team score.  Farewell greetings ended the night with, “Darrell, you are a good golfer!  And Susan, you are a good sport!”

Now, back to the Colonial:  Thursday is the first day of qualifying where all the registered players are hopeful of a good showing.  The scene is being set, the characters introduced.  Many names are recognizable – VJ Singh, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Rory Sabbatini, Zach Johnson – and some clothing is recognizable – John Daly in wacky chevron plaid, Rickie Fowler in his Puma neon brights.
You might even speculate that Daly’s girlfriend was hopeful of a long term relationship – her shorty shorts matched the wild fabric of his trousers (fashion statement/commitment?). The contestants are playing out some of the classic themes of literature, man vs. nature as they battle the wind, the trees and the lie of the land, man vs. self as they manage their game within the environment knowing their own past strengths and weaknesses. Viewing from the shade trees bordering #1 fairway and then later from #9, we kept cool with sheltering breezes and enjoyed the unfolding stories.  Local Colleyville man, Ryan Palmer, ended the day in the lead.

Friday was a full day for us at home so we kept up with the proceedings through TV and internet as we continued with other activities.  I attended the hospitality room set up by first grade teachers for volunteers at Silverlake Elementary School so they would know that I appreciated their appreciation. Rains came and cut short the golfing going on so it turned out to be a good day not to be there anyway.  We prepared the boat to go out on the lake with friends for the first fireworks night of the summer, but again the rains came so we watched from the dock – all good!
Saturday at The Colonial:  We arrived on the transport bus from Farrington Field in time for the previous day’s play to be finished and the final cut to be announced.  Handed the new pairing sheet that was hot off the press, we headed to a spot on #9 near the tents and facilities in case we needed to run for cover from threatening weather.  There were a few showers but nothing causing mad scramble.  Attentions turned to the leader board and literary themes expanded to include man vs. man in battle of the birdies. Although I doubt anyone there was sitting and working on math problems related to quadratic functions, I could see their examples in results of combined operations of force, velocity, trajectory, distance and gravity. I’ve gritted my teeth at the T shirts and bumper stickers that proudly proclaim “I did not use Algebra today!”  You don’t personally have to use it yourself, just recognize that it underlies forces at work in the natural world that surrounds us ;)  Matt Kuchar, a likable crowd favorite, ended day 3 in the lead.

Sunny day on Sunday:  Wearing our red for Red Cross and dropping our meager contribution into the bucket for the recent victims of tragic events, we reclaimed our favorite spot in the trees lining #9 and met the surrounding families from Stephenville, Ft. Worth and Lewisville.  Leaning over so my head was under the ropes, I craned to see Boo Weekley make his birdie and take the lead.  At this same time a course marshal came to warn me, “Be prepared to move your chair.”  The next golfer had landed way left and was planning a desperate Tin Cup shot to try to hit the green.  He and his caddie conferred in serious planning but the miracle did not happen.  By the way, Boo ended the days with cheers of “Boo!” as he won the tournament awards of a big fat check, a nice silver trophy and an audacious plaid jacket, his first win in 5 years.  I bet his wife and children were happy to welcome him home after weeks on the road and the long drought of winning finally ended.

Great golfers from the past have walked in these same places, Mr. Ben Hogan and Mr. Byron Nelson, who both have great life stories as well as sports acclaim.  The Colonial Country club and surrounding neighborhood carry along Fort Worth history that includes the Leonard family of Leonard’s Department stores.  Darrell and I both remember visiting the old Leonard’s in downtown Ft. Worth during our childhood Christmas outings with cousins. If any of you would like to experience the intersection of Ft. Worth charm, spectacle of sport and the microcosm of life field trip, get your tickets to next year’s Colonial.
And what are the life lessons out of all this? Be observant and appreciative of the beautiful world around us.  Persevere through times when things may not be going perfectly your way. Keep pursuing your given path to contribute to our world.

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.