Golf Carts and Grandmothers

In 1987 when my first born son was 12, we were visiting my mother in Rockport , Massachusetts. My Dad had recently died and my mother was looking for things to fill her day. She had always been a skilled and avid tennis player and I guess she figured that with the hand- eye skill down pat, that golf might be a possibility.

My son granted that he would play if he could drive the cart, so we trekked off to the local course. When checking in, the Pro made a big issue of the fact that one had to be 15 years old to drive a cart. I acknowledged that I understood, winked at my 12 year old and we set off on the first hole. As soon as we were out of sight of the Pro Shop, (400 yards and 30 swats by my mother), we switched seats and my son drove.

On the fifth hole, we finished up and moved to the sixth tee. My son realized that he had left a club back on the fifth green. He hopped in the cart with my mother in the passenger seat, drove across the small bridge over a drainage ditch, and hung a right towards the green. The drainage ditch was immediately on his right. The club was just off the green and maybe 8 feet from the ditch which was roughly 5 feet deep and half filled with muddy, goose dung filled water. My son evidently thought he could make a moving pickup of the club by leaning out of the cart and grabbing the it as he kept moving. Because of his lack of stature, as he leaned down to grab the club with his left hand, his right hand was pulled down while gripping the steering wheel (physics). Naturally the cart veered to the right and the two right wheels went over the edge of the drainage ditch flipping the cart upside down. My son fell out on the left side and landed on grass. My mother fell out into the drainage ditch landing on her side. Fortunately the cart did not land on her as she would have been pinned and almost certainly have drowned. I heard the yells and ran back across the bridge. I jumped into the ditch (almost waist deep) helped my mother up and started trying to lift the cart upright. I ordered my son into the ditch and the two of us struggled to correct the situation. After several minutes of trying we were surprised to hear a deep male voice from above ” had a little trouble I guess.” It was the course Ranger. Then he asked the ultimate question. “Who was driving?” Several things passed quickly through my mind, most importantly the warning that you had to be 15 to drive. I quickly answered “I was driving.” After a 5 minute chewing out, we grabbed our bags and walked back to the parking lot dripping mud. I cursed my son while my mother wondered what the repurcussions might be since she lived in the town while we would return to New Jersey the next day.

There were no repercussions. For the last 20 years this incident has been part of the family folklore. “When Stevie tried to kill his grandmother.”  My mother never played golf again and I avoided playing that course for the next ten years until I heard that the Pro had left. What we do to protect our children.

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