The two men’s eyes met. They shook hands and spoke.
“Hey, Dave Gresham.”
“Tony, suh, my name is Tony.”
“How are you, Tony?”
“Oh, I’m fine. You ready to play?”
“Well, we’ll see.”
“We’ll have a good day. Take your time and get loose. We’ll go when you’re ready.”
Above the cordiality and rituals caddies and golfers share, the two men began to bond with those old familiar questions—where you from? Orangeburg. Do you know…? Yeah, you know Joe Storey? Sure do. How long you been caddying here? —and the questions spilled on beyond familiarity toward bonding, a realization the two shared a history from different sides of time, two worlds meeting in circumstance, cocooned amid pines and magnolias. Each sensed something only two souls can feather from conversation and winnow through words, the called upon experience of a past time converging when eyes reveal character. Each showed the chiseled revelations of a life lived, Tony’s graveled face, Dave’s remnant swing. Somehow, the manicured surroundings, the detailed perfection of the golf course, the game to be played, good or poor, became a background. Only the thread of conversation mattered between caddy and player, a rope of words tying the two together during the ebb and flow of the next four hours.
Dave swung. “Nice tempo. Never seen one so nice.” “Tony, I could recite the Gettysburg Address during my backswing and four score might be the last time I played good golf.” “Oh, don’t worry, just enjoy the walk. You’ll be fine. Good thoughts, now. Just think good thoughts. You have to feed yourself with good thoughts.”
Dave’s struggles began from the first tee. This day would not yield pure shots across the verdant fairways, amid remembered success and dreamt dreams. Reality took hold. Dave could find no rhythm and tempo beneath the day’s calming sky. Finding no imperfection on the golf course, Dave’s game displayed all the fallibility the course extruded from him. If there was any good golf left inside him, it was irretrievable.
Tony just kept the conversation going while he filled Dave’s divots with seed and soil, gently whispering specks of wisdom in Dave’s ear, hoping his player could find it, could resurrect some past success.
“You’re still my pro,” Tony would say after Dave hit a poor shot. “You’ll get it. Hang in there.”
Then, summoning a last ditch determination, Dave birdied the eighteenth hole, a triumph the first seventeen would not yield.
As the two men waited for their playing partners to finish, their eyes met, they shook hands. Tony said, “God bless you. Thank you for the day.”
Walking along the path to the clubhouse, Tony noticed grass growing through the asphalt. He looked at Dave and said, “You see that. That’s the power of a seed. You know, they say an acorn is a tree that won’t quit.”
Behold, a sower went out…some seed fell by the wayside…but others fell on good ground… Those who have ears…
Oh, the power of a seed.