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Osprey Ridge/Eagle Pines - A Friendly Site for Golfers and Their Supporters by Randy H. Milgrom
Spouses of the Small Round Table
Golf is an Addiction
Golf is a Social Game
Other Sightings
On This Course...
Osprey Ridge/Eagle Pines - A Friendly Site for Golfers and Their Supporters

by Randy H. Milgrom

Spouses of the Small Round Table

The term "golf widow" conjures an image of the longsuffering housewife, waiting impatiently for her man to return home from the links.But on this day, the many women and men eating light lunches and sharing stories in the coffee shop overlooking the 18th green at Osprey Ridge are delighted to be waiting for their spouses to return from the links. They all know how fortunate they are not to be another kind of widow or widower.

It's better to be walking on the green side than looking up at the roots!

Around one small round table sit four friendly women enjoying each other's company. Sara Hart, of Buffalo, New York was sneaking occasional peeks through the large greenery-filled window to see if her husband, Milton, of Team West New York, was putting a good swing on a golf ball somewhere out there. Milton received two lungs in 1991 but they failed almost immediately because they had been damaged in transport. He then fell into a drug-induced coma until he was able to receive another set of lungs 16 days later.

Milton met Jack Arnold, also of Team West New York, while preparing for the golf event prior to the 1998 Games. Jack's wife, Janet, is also at the table, repeating many times how fortunate both she and Jack have been. Though he needed a kidney transplant in 1996, Janet says he's had "absolutely no problems" since then. And of course they both know so many others who have had so many difficulties with transplantation, including both of Jack's brothers.

Next to Janet sits Mary Ann Smith, whose husband, Dennis, of Team Indiana, received a heart transplant seven years ago after living with a heart that had been functioning at about 15% capacity since his massive heart attack in 1985. And on Mary Ann's left is Lorraine Morgan, of Pittsburgh, whose husband, Rich, awoke in the middle of the night some three and-a-half years ago complaining that he couldn't breathe. When the emergency room resident saw how much fluid Rich had in his lungs, he shocked Lorraine with the news that he had never seen such a bad case of lung cancer. But even after tests had determined that the fluid buildup was due to kidney failure, the terms "acute renal failure," and then later, "end stage renal failure," were foreign to her, and they frightened her and her family nearly to death.

Golf is an Addiction

Mary Ann says, "the doctors couldn't understand how [Dennis] couldn't walk across the room, but he was playing golf several days a week up to two days before his [heart] transplant." Everyone one else laughs knowingly.

"Milton golfs and bowls all the time - there's no controlling him," Sara happily explains, waving her hands in mock exasperation. Lorraine says Rich played at least once or twice a week even when enduring his daily dialysis treatments, and Janet says Jack has been golfing ever since she can remember, and that he stills golfs "whenever he possibly can."

Lorraine says Rich is a four handicap - that's nearly errorfree golf - but she doesn't think he's having his best day. "I saw him in the water and in the sand at least twice," she says.

Milton took up golf only after his transplant, and Sara explains that he's a 21 handicap, but getting better. "He used to be pathetic. A real duffer," she laughs. (This is Milton's fifth Transplant Games, and so far he's collected two silver and one bronze medal.)

All of these adoring wives are as thankful as they can be for their husbands' continued vitality. But perhaps even more than that, they're proud of them, and impressed with their perseverance and positivity. "Dennis says he'd rather play golf with me than with anyone else," Mary Ann says, clearly pleased with his kindness. And then she repeats his favorite golf saying: "It's better to be walking on the green side than looking up at the roots."

Golf is a Social Game

Men: This afternoon's format is individual play, and foursomes are composed randomly. But here are four guys thrown together who are teasing and encouraging one another on the third tee as if they've been playing together all their lives: Bill D'Antoni, of Team Kentucky (kidney transplant), swinging in a long, fluid motion; Leo Altovin, of Team Massachusetts (kidney), wearing a jaunty straw cap; Philip Cordova, of Team New Mexico (double lung), pulling out his trusty long iron; and Glenn Steverman, of Team Florida (double lung), leading the foursome in jokes.

Women: In another foursome, coincidences rule: Shelly Schank, of Team Utah (kidney) and Ann Read, of South Texas (lung) are playing together - as they did last year - and they've joined with Illinois teammates and Games roommates Jill Sederberg and Linda Willman (both of whom have had double lung transplants) to complete their foursome.

Children: There's a putting contest going on over at the 16th green among 17 year old Steven Thorpe (Team Texas; kidney transplant); 16 year old Nate Winger (Team Utah; liver); 16 year old Chris Truxaw (Southern California; heart); and 15 year old Andrew Williamson (Ohio; kidney). The teenagers say the round has been hot but fun. Some of their moms and dad are walking the course with them, and none of them disagreed.

Other Sightings

Trick Shot: William Kearns of Team Wisconsin (kidney and pancreas) is victimized by a horrendous lie late in his round, but he seemed giddy about its opportunities. The ball is lying flush against a tree, but there's a sliver of available light where the ball might be slid toward the hole.

"Watch this," he says. "I had one just like it a couple of holes ago." When he is asked why he doesn't just turn sideways and pop it back onto the fairway and take his chances from there, he licks his lips, bends over his ball, and says, "Gotta get practice making these difficult shots when they come up."

Unfortunately, his efforts ended with the kind of thwacking sound, if heard on a golf course, that is never mistaken for anything else. The ball has rebounded squarely off another tree and is even more precariously perched than the first lie, but Kearns swiftly and successfully pushes that one out towards the hole.

"I'm a 17 [handicap] but playing like a 30 today," he says without whining as he drives toward the green in his cart. Maybe he just can't perform under webcast pressure. Not everyone can.

"Fore": John Reed of Team Eastern Missouri & Metro East, who received a kidney transplant five years ago, is out on the course today, somewhere. With a "shotgun" start (all players start at the same time, on different holes), it's hard to know where a player would be during the middle of a round if you don't know where he started.

John's wife, Lana, and her father, Bob, as well as John's mother and father, Dee and John, Sr., are lining the second fairway hoping for their first sight of John. Lana's got her video recorder poised. Suddenly, the sound of a whizzing ball, the familiar thwack, and then, finally, "Fore!" "Does that sound like John?" someone asked.

On This Course...

Part of the beauty, and the grandeur, and the allure of golf is the course itself. Each one is unique, and their differences must be taken into account every time the ball is teed up. Only baseball is a rival - and distantly so - in this regard. Every other sport is played on a court or a field with standard dimensions. And Osprey Ridge/Eagle Pines is no standard-issue golf course.

Long, sprawling traps recall sandy Caribbean beaches. Some of them are even dotted with fluffy shrubs - which makes for pretty views but ugly approach shots if a ball should somehow land near one. Osprey nests loom above the course while a mob of egrets rule on the ground. There are pine trees everywhere - and where there are pines, of course, there are pine needles. Marshes, or ponds, appear in ungainly places.

Intermittent forests of sometimes substantial thickness provide shade for the winding and leisurely rides along the cart paths. It is quite a distance from green to tee in some cases, and the ride from one to the other is so pleasant that one might even be able to forget the misfortunate encountered on the last hole, enabling a fresh start on the next.



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