My Love of Golf

By Shelby Yastrow

 

The beginning of my lifelong love affair with the game of golf was not unlike the scenario played out in Bad Lies. When I was a kid in the 1940s, there was a little country club, a nine-hole pasture course, about five miles out of town. My older brother basically raised me, and he got a job as a lifeguard at the club, but my mom told him that if he wanted to go to work, he had to take me. So there I was, seven years old, getting up before dawn to hitchhike five miles to this club. My brother would clean the pool while I walked the course to find balls and sell them to players.

 

Talk about Americana. You can practically hear the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show playing, can’t you?

 

Eventually, a kind club member named Walt DeClerk took a liking to me. He sawed off some clubs and showed me how to play the game, and I helped out around the course. By the time I got to high school, I was hooked. I got down to a handicap of three or four, and even played (slightly) on the golf team at Northwestern University, where I went to law school.

 

Playing professionally was out of the question (I lacked a vital ingredient: talent), but I played golf all throughout my law career, and it was always helpful to me. I practiced for 15 years in a small town, and one way that I built my client list was joining the local country club. Pretty soon, practically every member was a client of mine. Everybody likes to play with golfers who are better that they are, because that’s how you improve. I was pretty good, so everybody liked to play with me. I would give them tips, and lifelong relationships formed.

 

When I went to McDonald’s at 42 years old in 1978, there weren’t many golfers. In fact, most of the corporate officers had never gone to college. Instead, they had started out behind a grill when they were 15, worked their way up to management and gotten jobs at headquarters or become field personnel. True company men. Because golf is a country club sport, they’d never taken it up. They were all about hunting, fishing and stock car driving.

 

That meant, as one of the few officers who played the game, I was always the one invited by suppliers and franchisees to conventions and seminars. It was great. Because of that, I got to play Augusta five times, a treat I’ll never forget.

 

I even retired when I did so that I could still play golf, and I still do, about four times a week. It’s a big part of my life. When I met Tony Jacklin, who was such a famous pro and such a terrific player from my era, I was gaga. But we hit it off, and he has a great sense of humor, which is good because I love to tell jokes. We had dinner one night, I kept up a running patter of jokes and stories, and then I asked him about joining me to write Bad Lies. The rest is history. It’s been a wonderful culmination of a golfing life.

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