EarthWorms Castings

by Jean Ponzi

You Too Can Be A Weiner;
A Father’s Day Golfing Tribute

My dad, Bert Ponzi, loved the game of golf. He loved to play it – and yak about it – with his golfing buddies. He recorded golf tournaments and watched them on TV.

He supplemented his music teacher’s income, through our family’s early years, by cutting greens on the county park municipal courses – and got to hit a few free balls on the side. When he retired from thirty-odd years of leading junior-high bands he could play golf almost every day, and he happily did as long as his legs (or a cart) could carry him.

Dad’s golf pals turned out in force to pay their respects last year at his memorial. “Bert could really drive the ball,” I heard from many gentlemen. And they fondly shared Dad’s well-seasoned golf jokes, featuring fellow fairway fans like Jesus and St. Peter.

My brothers have played golf, and they seem to like it. I cannot hit any kind of ball with any kind of stick to save my soul, yet even I – lacking all sporting skills and inclination – am not merely an observer when a ball is in play. Even I have inherited one good stroke off my Dad’s lifetime handicap.

I play a key committee role in a venerable local sporting event, The Greater Leasburg Open Pasture Golf Tournament, held each June in the rough and wooly wilds of Crawford County MO.

The Leasburg Open is aptly named. Winning shots have included: hitting the ball across the Lake, or smacking the Coca-Cola sign on the big pine tree; skidding a wormburner under the Windmill or thwacking a turret on the Castle, famous Open holes rescued from a shuttered putt-putt by the tourney’s first two-time Champion Dale Twofer Dufer. Course co-host Chris Betz won by a nose by maintaining total focus addressing the ball when Bandit, the teenaged llama who caddied the beer, planted his snoot in Chris’s crotch. And, most memorably, our beloved late Russ Lacewell loudly beaned the Castle with a russet potato pneumatically fired from a plumbing pipe: a spud-in-one. You don’t find PVC in the PGA, and that’s why the Leasburg Open is legend among the fortunate folks who gather on the brush-hogged links to enjoy this richly traditional sport by our own Local Rules.

I actually only played just once, in 1993. I hated it out there, standing around in the blazing sun, hopelessly hacking, flinging divots, feeling like the total sucky duffer that I am. Even in that eclectic scene, it was torture, worse than gym class. So I vowed I would never again shag such suffering onto that happy course – and appointed myself the Commentator.

This role suits me to a tee. I rally the gallery, call up the flight, rousingly lead Our National Anthem, announce past Champions’ glories as they honor their first ball of the day. I magnanimously mingle with rookies and champs in the portable shade of my Missouri Botanical Garden umbrella, wittily quipping, sipping a beer, and cheering on all contenders. It’s a gig on par with my lifetime motto: You Can’t Fire The Self-Appointed.

Dad, an actual golfer, would have loved the Leasburg Open too. Had he played with my pals, and had he won, as Commentator I would’ve announced him with one of his own chestnut phrases (which is a spoon in my bag now too): “Ladeeeez and Jellyspoons, the WEINER and new CHAMPEEN is . . . “

So with Father’s Day and the 20th (approximately) Leasburg Open approaching, I say Three Cheers! For the life that encourages us to enjoy what we do and do with gusto, with our buddies, much of what we truly enjoy. For a life in which everyone can, in our own way, be a weiner.

Hear Jean Ponzi Mondays, 7-8 p.m. on the KDHX enviro-talk show “Earthworms,” or catch her archived/podcast at www.kdhx.org.