Depending on where you live, your local Assistant Golf Professional might not be as fully employed as you think. But, that doesn't mean he or she isn't busy. Larry
It's the dead of winter. The chill winds are blowing down the pants and up the skirts of Golfers of every stripe, color, religion and sexual orientation. So, when I dropped by Pricey Mart last Wednesday on a mission to pick up a high-end close-out indoor/outdoor electric fireplace, the last thing on my mind was our grand and glorious game of Golf. Even though our friends who flock here from the Northeast insist what we call Winter isn’t “Winter,” my top of mind priority for this Pricey Mart excursion was a simple one: Buy something cool to keep me warm this Winter - for cheap.
But, Golf is always lurking. So, I unzipped my hoodie and slipped inside "The Big Box Store where other Big Box Stores send the stuff they couldn't sell.” And, who did I spot wearing the familiar chartreuse and gold smock of a Pricey Mart employee? None other than Terp Seemley, Assistant Golf Professional at the Hooking Hills Golf Course, the County-owned gem on Route TT right next to Scubbins Quarry - now operated by a Taiwanese firm - Tai-Tech of Formosa...after Juney Scubbins' recent untimely arrest and subsequent incarceration for running an outcall Golfers Massage and Caddy Service from his office trailer.
I didn't actually see Terp's face, I spotted the unmistakable rhythm of his swing, as he hit balls into the net in the Pricey Mart Sporting Goods Department. As I got closer, I could see Terp was giving what I learned later was an impromptu lesson to Leeto Weiner, well-known Persimmon Pines socialite and wife of Attorney Jules Weiner, founding partner of the powerful law firm of Gaylock and Weiner. The Assistant Pro's arms were wrapped around his student's shoulders as he helped her get a grasp on the ins and outs of the Golf swing.
"Terp!" I called out over the din of screaming babies, canned music and blaring ads from ubiquitous flat screens. I guess I surprised him. He twisted around awkwardly as the club in his hand raked a table full of discount golf balls off a display and down an aisle. His suddenly white pallor betrayed that he was more than a little surprised. I lightened the mood. "Fore!"
He quickly smiled. "Hey, Brent! Brent Green from the newspaper!" I nodded to Mrs. Weiner as she hurried into the crowd. She didn't return the wave. I guess she didn't see me.
Color returned quickly to Seemley's face. "What brings you to Pricey Mart?" I explained my quest for the electric fireplace. And, true to his Pricey Mart training, Terp quickly attempted to point me toward the Home Furnishings Department in the center of the store.
"Not so fast!" I put on the brakes as he pushed me toward the shoppers flowing down the main aisle. "I didn't know you worked here. You do, right?"
It seemed like a "yes" or "no" reply, but Terp took time to consider his answer. "Uh. yeah - for fun. In the winter, it gets a little lonely at home waiting for Springtime. The Golf Course only needs me 9 months a year. Everybody needs a little entertainment...and income."
“Ah! So, you been doing this with Mrs. Weiner for a long time?” "What?! No!!"
A moment of silence passed, as I tried to reconcile what I'd seen with what I was hearing. "Uh, didn’t I see you giving her a golf lesson when I walked in."
"Oh, right. It definitely was just a golf lesson."
Sensing I was onto a story here, I pressed on. "Come on," I said. "What's going on here?"
It didn't seem overly warm, but Terp suddenly seemed flushed. He seemed to be having a problem understanding me. "Going on?"
I knew I had something. I went for it. "Come on. Don't play all innocent with me. When did all this start?”
Terp put the six iron back in the display bag. “I’d rather not say.”
“I can ask the Personnel Department. I mean, don’t you know when you started working here at Pricey Mart?” He didn’t answer right away. Was he embarrassed? I sought to relieve the tension. "I mean it's not like you're doing anything wrong. Right?"
The brief pause was filled with a P.A. announcement advertising open box specials in the Pharmacy. "No. Absolutely not!" He turned, grabbed the 6 iron again and whacked a ball effortlessly into the netting.
I tried to explain my surprise at seeing him, with Ms. Weiner. “I mean I see that chartreuse and gold smock of yours wrapped around her little body. You're a PGA Golf Professional!” Terp whacked another ball into the netting - time time his swing was faster; too fast, he topped the ball. I waited until he turned back toward me. “I guess us Amateurs just assume you've got a full-time job."
Terp carefully rested his club against the display bag. “So, you’re here about Golf?”
“No. I’m here for the indoor/outdoor fireplace special.” But, when I came in, I saw you and Mrs. Weiner...”Terp grabbed the six iron and wacked another ball into the netting. “...and, that’s when I realized I had a real story...” He topped another six iron into the netting. "...about Golf. I thought you only worked at Hooking Hills.”
Once again, he leaned the six iron against the display bag. “I was just giving Mrs. Weiner a little refresher Golf lesson, you know.”
“Of course you were,” I laughed.
“Okay then Here’s the deal. I love being a Golf Professional. And, believe me, it's more than a full-time job when I'm at the Club. But, they only give me a check nine months a year. When things slow down this time of year, I have to come up with some other way to make ends meet, just like Elsa.” He pointed to the main aisle; at the passing flow of bodies. There, in the midst of hundreds of anonymous faces, I caught a glimpse of Elsa Cracklow, Assistant Pro at Woodstone Country Club, wearing the distinctive Pricey Mart smock. I looked quickly back at Terp. He nodded: “Bunch of us are here. Ty Benderling (Valley Heights Assistant) and Hake Weed (Assistant at Slippery Meadows), too. They're on the late shift tonight."
As I was formulating my next question, Attorney Jules Weiner stepped out of the crowd and in between myself and Terp. "You been with my wife, lately?"
In an effort to be helpful, and perhaps speed up my interview with Terp so I could purchase my fireplace, I jumped in. "Hi, Mr. Weiner! Yeah! I just saw her. She was just here working with the Pro."
The Attorney turned and looked at me. I guess he hadn't seen me before because, it seemed as if I'd surprised him. "I bet she was," he said to me. Then, he turned back to Terp. "I bet she was."
Before he turned and headed back into the crowd. Mr. Weiner looked at me, “It’s Attorney Weiner...not Mister.” He stopped at the edge of the aisle, looked back over his shoulder at Seemley. "I'll be back." Then, he disappeared into the crowd of faceless bargain hunters.
The Assistant Pro pulled out his cell phone. "So, good for you! You have both Attorney Weiner AND his wife as students! Do you do a lot of extra lessons like this in the off-season?"
Terp nodded as he waited for an answer at the other end. "Yeah - Hake - it's Terp. Can you come in a little early this evening?"
The interview was pretty much over at that point. Seemley said he had to get going. I surmised he could be meeting one, or both, of the Weiners for a private lesson. But, I thought this article was a great reminder of the sacrifice our local Assistant Professionals make to serve us at our local Golf courses and clubs.
As I left Pricey Mart that afternoon, with my indoor/outdoor electric fireplace, I found myself thinking how strange it is that this Reporter can sometimes stumble onto the most interesting and intriguing Golf stories without actually knowing what he's about to step into!
Larry Caringer has been writing humor for broadcast for a long time. Now, he's writing it for you. The stories, here, are from a collection of short stories from his book "Golf Beat: A Year in the Life of Persimmon Pines."