Three Shades of Green
Charlotte National Golf Club is a place where I played golf, practiced golf, ate sausage biscuits, and worked long hours. Sunday mornings at Charlotte National always had the guarantee to be especially eventful. I will never forget the feeling of it being unbearably cold as my buttocks came in contact with the wet cart seat at the crack of dawn. For the past four years at six in the morning, I would find myself in the same routine every weekend. I would arrive at the course before dusk a pour myself a cup of coffee, then head outside to begin removing the old rusty lock from the golf cart fencing. After the carts had been staged and the sun had risen, I knew that I had excitement in store. The Sunday morning routine might have been constant, though intriguing surprises emerged constantly. Some may ask how a weekly routine could be considered to be interesting by any means and why I loved my job as much as I did. I feel in love with my Sunday morning rounding at Charlotte National Golf Club because of the people that I came in contact with and the relationships that were built. At Charlotte National ordinary events always seemed to translate into extraordinary experiences.
When asked to identify one’s childhood home, most people would have the instant response of stating their address of where their family resided throughout their childhood. This can be known as the universal definition of a home; however; this is not always the case. My philosophy on one’s home can be illustrated by a quote by Robert Frost. “Home is a place, where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” For me, Charlotte National is simply this type of place I will forever be apart of. When pulling into the parking lot of Charlotte National, I probably get sighs from all of the members unloading their clubs from their vehicles. Chances are I even get a mutter or two that go something like, “Oh, this guy again.” But they always know that Charlotte National is my home and we all are family; therefore; they must take me in.
At around seven o’ clock every Sunday, for two-hundred and fifteen Sundays straight, the carts had been lined up neatly and it was time to enjoy the comfort of the ramshackle triple-wide trailer that we call our club house. I could always rely on my boss, whom I refer to as Slick Vick, to have a warm McDonald’s sausage biscuit and a sweet tea on hand for me. My breakfast was enjoyed by sitting down and chatting with the gathering of old men that are known as “Dale’s Group.” We discussed everything from their war stories from “back in the day” to the golf shot they had just hit yesterday. Soon enough, the frost had departed from the fairways, and it was their time to hit the links and my time to get some work done. My main job on Sunday mornings at Charlotte National was to pick balls up on the driving range. I was fortunate that this task wasn’t to be completed by hand, but rather with a primal caged cart that is looped around the driving range in a lawn-mowing motion. This wasn’t the most reliable vehicle at our facilities by any means. We literally named this range picker “Rust-bucket Randy.” Randy was our maintenance man who slapped his name tag sticker on the hood one day after changing a spark plug.
Mrs. Pam was the woman who worked the concessions counter in the clubhouse. She usually arrived at the club around ten o’clock every Sunday morning. To no surprise at all she would say, “Grant, I have you a surprise…breakfast!” I am not the type of person to be rude and tell her that I already ate, and I am definitely not the type of person that would ever turn down a warm sausage biscuit. My second biscuit of the day had always been eaten with the greens-mower, Ralph. Every regular customer at Charlotte National at golf course knows this man as “Race-track Ralph.” Ralph’s uniform consisted of faded wrangler blue jeans, a Dale Jr. tee-shirt, and a Marlboro cigarette hanging from the right side of his mouth. By the looks of this guy anyone could presume that he was birthed in the in-field of Daytona Motor Speedway as a child biologically destined to raise hell. Ralph was definitely an interesting character; I can honestly admit that I have never looked so forward to a conversation as I did the weekly chat with this man. We would sometimes talk for hours on the day where I had no golfs to wash and no golf balls in the driving range to retrieve. Ralph would tell one story after another to drive me to the point that my voice would become coarse and my eyes would become dry from shedding tears.I was in need of Clear-eyes due to the fact that I had been nearly crying because of such excessive laughter.
I regret that I am no longer able to work at Charlotte National. There will occasionally be a Sunday morning where my biological alarm clock will begin it’s c***-a-doodle-doos when the sun is still submerged beneath the tree line. Unlike the majority of the working class, I fall disappointed that I will no longer be going to work at six o’clock on Sunday mornings. I have moved away from the Charlotte area; Slick Vick, Mrs. Pam, and Race-track Ralph are no longer just a short drive away. Charlotte National may be municipal golf course unfavorably characterized by many for the odoriferous scent of tobacco smoke and the Pabst Blue Ribbon wafting through the air. It may not be a typical country club, but I fell in love with the place not because of any structurally sound facilities or an immaculate landscape, but rather because of the people that I came in contact with and the relationships that were built.