Dad said he wanted to feel that nervous adrenaline rush on the first tee again.
“You know, that zing?” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
He heard about a 2-man scramble golf tournament and tried to talk me into it.
“It’s at Island Green Golf Club.”
Any course with “Island Green” in its title already has a certain intimidation factor. It’s been about 10 years since I last played in a golf tournament, a 2-man scramble in Lee’s Summit. My partner and I were not a good pairing. We finished significantly above par and at the bottom of C flight. Maybe even D flight. It’s probably been about that long since I’ve played 18 holes at once.
“It’s for a great cause,” Dad said.
About a month ago, five-year old Colston was diagnosed with stage-4 neuroblastoma. He is currently at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis undergoing treatment for at least the next nine months. His uncle, Ryan, organized the tournament to help with expenses down the road for his younger brother and sister-in-law.
“Your dad told me about your catch-playing stories. If you get to the course early, I’ll play catch with you,” Ryan said. “I was a pitcher in college, but haven’t thrown in a while!”
Ryan pitched at Crowder College and Missouri Southern from 2005 – 2009. “Pitcher only. No hitting. I played some slow-pitch softball in the last couple of years, but haven’t really thrown a baseball for quite some time.”
Ryan’s a Cardinals fan and was raffling off tickets right behind home plate at Busch Stadium to help with the fundraising. Dad bought a ticket for the raffle which also included two mulligans for the tournament. Ryan’s a member at Island Green and one of his friends is the co-owner of the course. The decision to organize a tournament here was easy and well-received. Sixty 2-man teams entered which means that Ryan’s initial goal of raising $4,000 will easily be met.
Colston just completed his second round of treatment. “Overall, he’s responding well, but it’s still too early to know how it’s working.” I can’t imagine being Colston’s parents or even his uncle. I remembered the story of Super Miles from America at the Seams and choose to trust that the same Miracle that is healing Miles will also heal Colston.
Ryan and I played catch in the shade near the practice putting green. He stood at edge of a hill of significant size. One bad throw and we’d be chasing a ball for a couple hundred yards. So, I threw quite soft and focused on stretching out muscles needed to hit relatively long drives and straight putts. With a little encouragement, Ryan threw some sliders and stretched out his arm. The natural movement he had on each throw was fun to catch.
As for the tournament, I played exactly like you would expect someone who has only played six 9-hole rounds this year to play. Also, it helps if you’re familiar with the course. Dad and I were supposed to start on hole #16 and got lost on the way. We ended up on the opposite side of the course. Once we located the correct tee box, we then learned we were partnered with two other twosomes and played as a six-some. One of our playing partners was the younger brother of one of my classmates from school. He remembered Dad making house calls on his pets when he was a kid.
Island Green is considerably more difficult – considerably hillier! – than the courses Dad and I have been playing. The first three holes were quite a struggle before we settled down and found our groove, picking up for the other’s missed hits. As luck would have it, the island green would be our last hole. Having birdied the previous hole, I stepped up and promptly deposited a 6-iron into the water. Dad would get his adrenaline rush on the last hole, too. He landed safely on the other side of the moat and together we salvaged a par.
The sixty teams weren’t flighted so our 77 (+5) didn’t win any prizes, but we finished far from last place. However, one of our playing partners won the closest to the pin contest and another won the raffled Cardinals tickets. High fives and hat tips were exchanged in the bar. A couple blisters, some new tan lines, and a good time with Dad are a great exchange to help a former baseball player help his nephew.
Get well soon, Colston!