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The Course of Life

Catherine Ledner Fore! The author's mother takes a swing out on the course.

Photo: Catherine Ledner

The next day, I can't stop perspiring. It is 95 degrees. "You look awfully warm," Mother observes, as she knocks one down the fairway. She insists on wearing a thick cardigan and knee-highs, prompting one woman to remark that she resembles an overage schoolgirl. (Back in Detroit, country-club lore has it that Mother dons her thick wool socks just to psych out the other ladies. Mother, however, contends that she has never been motivated by anything more cunning than a desire to conceal the muscular, bowlegged calves developed from years of speed skating.) She's also sporting a pair of shiny patent-leather golf shoes and breaks into the Charleston after sinking a particularly fine putt. She hits only with used balls that she finds on the course. Mother is, admittedly, a tad eccentric on—and off—the green. Once, strolling down Rodeo Drive in the rain and bent on shielding her hat from water stains, Mother flipped the back of her skirt up over it. Some "young whippersnappers" driving by shouted out at her. To which Mother replied, "Hey, the hat is brand-new."

Each morning, a chauffeured golf cart ferries us through an exotic maze of flowers. "Okay, kid, I'm gonna go for it," Mother declares on the first tee. "Let's see what we can do," she whispers to her favorite driver. She coyly unveils her Big Bertha, crushing the ball 150 yards. "Can you believe that was your old lady?" she asks.

Having played 36 holes the previous two days, Mother, in genuine puzzlement, now admits, "I don't know why I don't have any pep." In our final couple of days, she winds up caddying for me, scouting for hidden sand traps. But there is no denying that my ever youthful golf partner and mentor must, finally, concede that she can no longer thumb her nose at the depredations of age.

All in all, we're as compatible as ever, with a few minor exceptions. She scolds me for not smuggling in our own stock of libations for the mini-bar and believes in refilling the bottled water from the tap. But she truly appreciates how the housekeeper has turned down the beds properly, even placing red chile ristras on the pillows. "Ah, this is the life!" Mother exclaims. "There's nothing like getting away for the game." She couldn't have been more of a sport, and as for me—well, that may be my best shot ever.

Jeffrey Podolsky writes for the London Times Magazine and Vogue Hommes.

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