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Golf wasn’t perfect, but time with old friends was

The skies appeared threatening as I checked to make sure I had enough golf balls, sun screen and my sunglasses. And I was not going to forget those new golf shoes.

The second annual St. Margaret of Scotland Golf Tournament was held last month at Gleneagles Country Club in Lemont. I decided to participate this year along with my brother, Terry. While I marked off the check list for the tournament, there was one thing I could not change – my golf game.

For nearly a decade, I usually only go out to golf once a year. My brother has sponsored an annual golf tournament just after Father’s Day. We have gone on long weekends at courses in Wisconsin, and before that, Nauvoo, Ill. Those golf tournaments featured relatives, in-laws and friends. The majority of us who tee up are all over the course except for where it matters – the fairway. We have a handful of good golfers that helps make it interesting. The main thing is we have a lot of fun.

For the uninitiated, golf is a difficult game to play if you hardly tee up. Even if I played every week, there is no assurance that I would improve. Golf demands concentration and the ability to use a variety of clubs. You might be able to drive well, but if you can’t make your chip shots or putt, those scores will go up. It is difficult to master all facets of this game.

That’s why sometimes I’m a little apprehensive to go out and golf that frequently, especially with people I don’t know that well. I want it to be an enjoyable day and I don’t want to hold anyone back. But with the St. Margaret’s Tournament, I thought just go out and have fun. The main thing is that it is for a good cause. The funds raised from this tournament go to assist St. Margaret’s.

I attended St. Margaret of Scotland School, 9833 S. Throop St., Chicago, starting in the fourth grade and graduated from there. The majority of golfers also went to the school, along with a few guests who arrived just for the dinner afterward. St. Margaret’s was like a lot of Catholic parishes on Chicago’s South Side — predominately Irish. But like many neighborhoods on the South Side, demographic changes took place. The surrounding community is now largely African-American.

But many of the graduates of St. Margaret’s from the 1960s and early 1970s still have ties to the parish. Early Saturday afternoon Masses draw some of the graduates from nearby Beverly and other communities. An anniversary celebration was held last year and the parish still holds an annual St. Patrick’s Day party. The parish has also been doing a better job of marketing and drawing back graduates, like me. The golf tournament happens to be one of those fundraisers.

But while my golf game is shaky, I came prepared — at least sort of. I had a discussion with my brother about having a foursome but ultimately we both showed up that morning two players short. But I was assured by organizers that another player or two will most likely be available. I was not going to worry about it. This was about having fun.

When I arrived at Gleneagles, I began to see some familiar faces. Some may be a little grayer or heavier, but once they smile at you, it is like I’m transported back to my days hanging around 95th Street and Loomis Avenue. I can recall Carole Goeing and Pat Manning — who I graduated with from St. Margaret’s — being cheerleaders for sports teams and playing sports themselves. They were also active in various organizations at the school and in the neighborhood.

So, who greets me when I go to sign up and pay for the tournament? Well, it was none other than Carole and Pat. They were were handling all the information, payments and organizing the foursomes. Some things don’t change.

My brother and I were resigned to the fact that we were going to have to be a duo. But suddenly someone called out to us and asked if he can be part of our team. The person was Jody Favia, who had just come in for the tournament from his home in Dallas. He was accompanied by his younger brother, Joe. They both grew up in the old neighborhood. Terry and I said sure. We now had our foursome.

While sitting in our golf carts waiting to tee off, a slight drizzle started to come down. I may have had a hat, sunglasses, sun screen and new golf shoes, but I did not have an umbrella or jacket. Dave Curley, who I grew up with and went to St. Margaret’s with, noticed my dilemma and offered me a hoodie to deal with the elements. I have to remember that jacket next time. Fortunately, the rain stopped.

The one advantage of this event was that it was a scramble tournament, or best ball. You use the best ball hit by one of the foursome. It moves the game along faster and helps us struggling golfers. Terry and I agreed that if it was just us two, it would have been a long afternoon.

How did we do? Hey, we made some nice shots. We contributed. But it turns out Jody Favia, who I haven’t seen in about 40 years, plays about four times a week back at his home. He told me he shoots in the 70s. And that explains why we were one of the winners at the end of the golf tournament, shooting one under par.

What was our winning gift? We received more golf balls. Maybe that’s an omen. I think I’m going to play more golf this fall. I just have to remember to bring a jacket.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected]

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