The August heat was stifling. I stood on the 15th tee of an exclusive golf club, surveying the surroundings for signs of life. Nothing, not even a bird or two. The air was thick, the kind of day to stay inside with the AC on high. I was alone for my final holes on Caddie’s Day. I had just sunk a 50-foot putt –the sound of the ball dropping into the plastic cup was still in my head. But there were no witnesses as well as no one with whom to share my thoughts: that I was three over par with four holes to go, that I would be entering college next week, that my long days as a caddy were an hour from being over, that war was waiting for me if college didn’t work out.
Time has stood still for me on that day for 55 years. I’d never hit the golf ball better—every putt went in on those final few holes. I actually laughed after my final drive—straight down the middle—I’d swung without fear that the proverbial duck hook with send me into the trees. But who would believe a solo caddy? Didn’t matter– I was ready for the next adventure: college. I had the curse of youth: invincibility, living without fear. Of course, that fear returned with my first blue book exam.
(Caddy’s Day was always on a Monday, the time when the fairways were mowed and watered while the men and boys who lugged around heavy leather bags for members of The Morris County Golf Club in Morristown, N.J., were allowed to play for free on this well-manicured golf course.)