Submitted by Don Doman
Looking out my office window I saw son Patrick arrive to pick me up for golf. He stepped out of his truck and seconds later said, “Whoa, muggy!” It was Friday morning about 10:45 near Point Defiance. He was right. Seventy degrees and air heavy with the need for rain to clear out forest fire ash didn’t make for an auspicious walk in the park.
It was just as warm at Patrick’s home in Edgewood, but the oppressive feeling had been missing there. I think both of us were daydreaming about a nap. Patrick is in IT and works for American Fast Freight, where he is constantly on the move connecting computers, video devices, routers and more. After four holes, I would be bushed. After eight holes so would Patrick.
We loaded up my clubs and soon we were on our way to Oakbrook in Lakewood. Patrick needed a little direction as we got nearer the golf course. As we drove past Lake Steilacoom, I said “That’s where the old ice arena was when I was in the fifth grade.” “On the side of the lake?” “Actually, over it,” I responded, “Turn right at the light.” When we got to the “Y” in the road, there as a sign for the Soroptimist Golf Tournament.
Within an hour we had our clubs loaded onto our golf cart thanks to John from Oakbrook, who was helping the golfers make ready for the fundraising tournament. We had gone through registration and three of our foursome were sitting and munching on a hog dog and chips. TJ, our fourth was getting his clubs. Sitting around us were friends who were also playing. Joining Patrick and me was Gabe, the last member of our foursome. None of my friends knew him, but that soon changed. Gabe is the boyfriend of granddaughter number four, Daron. At the age of twenty he is an aspiring golf pro and works at Putz Golf in Tacoma. Our friends are very friendly and soon he began to feel at home (I hope). Our friends laugh at each other and are constantly chiding, poking, and kidding one another as we make sure that we all feel love.
TJ soon joined us. Gabe wanted to hit a few more balls before the tournament began. Anything more than his three iron drove waaaay beyond the driving range. Most of us don’t have that problem.
Soon we were on our way to the sixth hole. We followed three wives and their friend. The sixth hole is a par 3. I said to myself, “Automatic six.” TJ is a retired Amtrak conductor who used to run the Empire Builder between Seattle and Spokane. He would have a day of rest in Spokane waiting for the westbound train to carry him back to Tacoma. He would golf in Spokane waiting for the train, and golf in Tacoma waiting for the train. He fell in love with Vickie Pratt who was also an Amtrak employee who worked ticket/baggage in Spokane first and finally in Tacoma. He is married and retired, as is Vickie
We followed this rotation: I led off, followed by TJ, and then Patrick. Gabe batted clean-up. This worked well, especially on longer holes. By the end of the round my drives were improving. My iron work was deplorable, but I sank several six to eight foot putts. TJ was very steady, but outshone us all with at least three thirty-foot plus putts. Patrick faded a little in the stretch, but did some good iron work to make up for me. After a couple of holes I said to Patrick, “Something is missing.” He answered, “Sarcasm?” I smiled and said, “I was thinking laughter.”
For the last couple of years my buddy, Mike Jones usually plays with us. Most of us who like golf know that we aren’t that good, but enjoy it anyway. Laughing at our efforts reduces anxiety . . . a bit. Last year we struggled in the rain and by the eighteenth hole our energy level left a dead battery hole in our efforts. This year, however Dr. Mike and his lovely wife, Dana, a retired RN, were vacationing in Nova Scotia. I hope autumn started early to give them a chance to see the changes in foliage color. For this tournament, three of us were a little weary, but not completely out of it.
Gabe never looked tired. I’d like to see how he does carrying around another hundred and twenty-five pounds. Gabe is like an English longbow. He’s thin and has lots of strength when he coils and extends for a shot. We were hoping that Gabe would win the long drive contest on the 18th hole. We had five more holes to go when we finished number eighteen, but when we did, Gabe had left the marker as the longest drive. Eventually, someone else won it, but I doubt they used a three wood like Gabe did.
We put away our clubs and went to the club house for dinner. We didn’t get to sit all together, unfortunately. Peg was late arriving at Oakbrook. She had answered a last minute call from granddaughter #1.
TJ and his wife Vicky were able to sit with our friend Mike Mowat whose wife, Jan Runbeck in president of the local Soroptimist organization and one of our best friends (along with Mike). In addition they joined our friends Rob and Vickie Erb, Gabe and our granddaughter Daron. Patrick and I joined Peg with our friends Debbie and Donn Irwin, and Donna Haynes and her husband, Paul. Peg gave away a few of our raffle tickets and Gabe won a Seahawks basket, which included tickets and other goodies. I think Daron ended up with a vintage goat/sheep fur jacket that Peg had donated.
Dinner was BBQ ribs that fell off the bone. There was also excellent BBQ chicken, beans, Caesar salad, corn on the cob, apple pie, and ice cream. Oakbrook does a fantastic job for meals. Their employees are very helpful in all aspects from banquet set-up to tournament basics. Beth Bailey, the events coordinator worked well with the Soroptimist organizers, but still it was a simple Dr Pepper from the beverage cart that gave me a shot in the arm in the second half of our round. The only downer was the news that Jim Sterino of Sterino Farms had died. He always donated the corn, but Sterino Farms continues the 19 year tradition and donated the corn again. The roasting ears were excellent! We devoured them in Jim’s name.
The Soroptimist committee again did a great job. We had the same number of players as the year before, people bought raffle tickets and bid on the silent auction items. Generally, the organization sees eight to ten thousand dollars for their efforts to help women and girls with educational needs. They had great sponsors. The committee was fairly optimistic in hoping for proceeds in the ten thousand dollar range. I have enjoyed the meetings where scholarship checks are distributed. Last year Soroptimist presented checks to two young women. They had their children join them for the annual dinner when they were awarded the funds. Some proceeds of the 2016 tournament were also awarded to Salvation Arny for their participation in (PCCAT) the Tacoma Area Coalition Against Trafficking – a Soroptimist project.
When you see funds being spent wisely and doing so much good in our community, it more than makes up for the aching feet, pulled muscles, weary backs, and bruised egos of eighteen holes of golf. Of course the laughter and comradery of friends isn’t bad, either.