golfing with W.O.W.

Memories of my best cart companion, William Oliver Weygandt.

Over the past several months I have played exponentially more golf than I have in well over a decade, or since I played with my grandfather, W.O.W., also affectionately known in my world as “g-daddy.” I have many fond memories of W.O.W., and of those memories, being on the golf course together are some of the most vivid and cherished. I’ll never forget how he always packed a banana and/or a snickers bar to help keep his blood sugar up along the way. And those six packs of (Keebler or Lance) cheese and crackers were always one of my favorite golf snacks.

W.O.W.’s golfing rituals were only interrupted by a couple of things more important: (1) his honey ‘to do’ list, (2) overseeing building projects at Dorcas Wills, (3) bad weather or (4) broken bones. And I am fairly certain he broke one of his ankles while on the golf course, and the other while working on a building project. Around the time he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he was plagued with a couple broken ankles, both of which limited his ability to enjoy golf late in his life.

We Always Kept Score

In preparation for the Woodlands Area Chamber’s Putt Pass & Chip Golf Tournament, I found two scorecards from one of our last outings together in the early 2000’s in my golf bag. One scorecard is from a day we played along with three of his good friends at Westwood Shores, all of whom are no longer with us. The next day we played together, just me and him.

He was known to play several times a week during his years of retirement in Trinity, Texas. During the summer months, I enjoyed to tag along for the ride. This is where I learned how to drive a golf cart, as adventurous as possible. I suspect I’m not alone when I say I remember hearing, “Watch where you are going!!” on countless occasions. It is one of the experiences I recall when I find an unsuspecting pothole on the course or on the road.

Practice Makes Perfect

The past couple Sundays after teaching piano and voice, I have spent a couple hours in solitude practicing my swing at the driving range at the Memorial Park Golf Course. I am committed to getting better so I can truly enjoy a round. When I put on my golf shoes and step onto the golf course, I am filled with a sense of sadness and at the same time strong gratitude for the lessons he taught me. It difficult to swing my club without hearing his voice, raised in a well intentioned manner, say

“Keep your eyes on the ball!”

I can only recall playing one round of golf since we played together. This was not for lack of trying. Despite my best efforts, I had not been able crawl out from under the proverbial rock. to play a round of golf. There wasn’t much wiggle room for it while studying law & music, practicing & performing and constantly working (never relying on one stream of income). Needless to say, he was one of the last people I played a round of golf with before this August.

Although I am certain no one would consider me a good golfer (yet), he gave me a gift of a lifetime. He introduced me to the game of golf at an early age, and taught me the decorum required for the game. This has provided, and will continue to provide, opportunities to connect with friends, family, clients, potential clients, business associates and referral partners.

Competition is Healthy

For those unaware, the Weygandt’s are an extremely competitive bunch. It’s never “just a game” to us. If you are going to get your feelings hurt, you better sit on the couch. Needless to say, the participation trophy mess of the late 20th century definitely did not extend to our lowly card table.

A friend recently reminded me, there are not any, big or small, L’s in Weygandt, but there is definitely a big W. We cannot stand to lose without a fight. To this end, we always take pride in learning the game as quickly as possible, in order to ruthlessly compete. Yet at the end of the day, it was always in good fun.

“Watch where you are GOING!”

Recently in moments of personal quandary, I have tended to think about what kind of advice he would give. There have been times I have felt his presence about, as if he was out there on the course with me. I couldn’t ask for a better spirit to be with me on the golf course. Nothing could get that man down. His positivity, though sometimes unfounded, could never be shaken. He fully and truly embodied the “W.O.W.” factor.

I do not have any memories of him being unhappy; frustrated, yes, unhappy, no. He was loved by all that knew him. Although he was the most feared Vice-Principal at Waltrip High School in Houston, Texas, because he was the only Vice-Principal to refuse to use the paddle, as was a common practice in those days.

“I’m just teasing”

He was always teasing people, and he didn’t stop trying when he became too senile for it to make much sense. He taught me life is too short to be serious all the time. I credit much of my playful teasing to his disposition and my time spent with him. So if you get a jab from yours truly, you can thank him for starting it.

Business Happens While Golfing

After getting back into playing these past few months, I can attest to the common statement that business does happen as a result of playing golf. It is hard to imagine he did any business on the golf course, however, he had enough respect for golf’s (hidden) power to instill in me a strong appreciation for what golf can do in my life.

Know, Like & Trust

The connections fostered or planted while playing are more readily harvested than other situations as a result of the “Know, Like & Trust” phenomenon. All three must coincide for a business deal to occur. Playing golf builds all three of these requirements for people to do business with each other.

You can learn so much about someone in the several hours on the golf course. For example, How do they handle pressure? Do they have a propensity to deceive? What you may learn, may be surprising or enlightening, and may even save you from making a costly mistake.

May he forever live on the links, in spirit and in my mind.

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