For our anniversary last year my wife gave me my first club
membership. Pelham (N.Y.) Country Club has a jewel of a course,
the site of Gene Sarazen's and Walter Hagen's duel at the 1923
PGA. I grew up nearby, but the only times I visited golf courses
as a kid were at night, usually pursued by the authorities after
some boyhood prank. Golf came late in life for me and hit hard.
When I told my 84-year-old Uncle Larry about the joys of
belonging to Pelham, he confided that when he was a boy growing
up in Mount Vernon, N.Y., he had dreamed of making a living at
golf. In those days he had caddied, mopped floors at a bank and
worked at a pharmacy, where he fought with other delivery boys
over who'd get to take medicine to the Kennedy house, where Joe
Kennedy Sr. always tipped you a fiver. "I hopped the fence at
Pelham once," my uncle told me, "and was confronted by a member
who threatened to have me arrested for trespassing. 'Sir,' I
said, 'my father is a member in good standing and would be
offended by your accusation.' Well, the old guy looked surprised
and said, 'Please accept my apologies, young man, and play on.'"
Now, I knew that Uncle Larry's father, my grandfather, was no
"member in good standing" at Pelham. The man had a
less-than-legal speakeasy business and a weakness for the horses.
"Pete," my uncle said, "I gave that guy the bull, and he took
August 2, 1998
Within a month of our talk, my uncle died and a TV pilot I had
done, The Secret Lives of Men, about three divorced guys who
play golf, got picked up by ABC. Now, as I walk the course at
Pelham "rehearsing" my role as a weekend duffer, I can't help
smiling at the thought that one of us is making a living at golf.
"The Secret Lives of Men" will air Wednesday nights this fall.