Our first Christmas with Dad as a pure Golf Course Superintendent was a little lean. After several years of serving as a Pro/Super, the debt load was suffocating him. At Dinky Little Fake Country Clubs--we survived four DLFCC in four years--the Pro/Super often had to finance the pro shop inventory, F&B, and golf maintenance supplies of a time-sensitive nature.
(The DLFCC business plan typically delayed non-essential items like fertilizer, irrigation and mower parts, while demanding timely delivery of critical supplies like liquor, hot dogs and free coffee.)
As the DLFCC was normally controlled by accountants from the Scroogian School of Economics, Dad rarely got reimbursed for the time-sensitive outlays. Scrooge lectured Dad about the need to get purchases approved, even if a disapproval meant turf death, fairways mowed at 1.25" or ball roll on the greens resembling a pinball in action.
Our first pure GCS experience was pretty great. Of course, we had to deal with a flinty old golf pro who was as territorial as a pit bull, especially since part of his operation involved skillful manipulation of local government officials. Hey, as long as we didn't have to run the clubhouse, things were good . . . if you don't count our car being repossessed right after Thanksgiving.
Dad began to make good progress in paying off the debts incurred during our stay in the DLFCC gulag system, and we really enjoyed rebuilding the course. When Christmas drew near, we were still seriously broke and ready to continue our policy of non-consumerism, having honed that skill during the previous four years.
My assignment was usually cashless tree acquisition, performed in the old-fashioned way, trudging around in the woods searching for a Charlie Brown. Because this was in the days before the real estate folks surrounded golf courses with stucco and plastic swingsets, there was a lot of forest to search, and I was determined to avoid the contingency plan: Pine limbs stapled to the wall in the shape of a tree.
At last I found a cedar about the size of a garden gnome and victoriously dragged it home, only to find Dad in a state of pre-Christmas depression. He was very concerned little brother Mike would have to endure another non-consumerist Christmas. (Apparently the skilled TV toy advertisers had guilted Dad for not having huge amounts of plastic to placate the offspring.)
Mere days until Christmas, Dad hit upon a solution. He salvaged an old trim mower* from the junk pile, removed the mowing units and repurposed it as an improvised "go-cart". Upon completion of the renovation, the mower proved to be a miserable go-cart. Severely limited in speed and handling, Dad renamed it a jeep and presented it to Mike for Christmas. (*You veterans know which one I'm talking about.)
Mike was thrilled and set off on a grand off-road adventure.
We soon learned why the trim mower was a junk pile resident; immediate brake failure, a transmission glitch of the kind where no amount of struggling could get it out of gear and a minor problem with the steering: It wouldn't. (Dad never again hired an equipment tech with a meteorology degree.)
This resulted in Mike plowing helplessly straight ahead through brush, saplings, thorn bushes, creeks and leaving skin upon various oaks and hickories. Christmas morning was spent recovering the trim mower jeep from deep ditches, a granite quarry below #8 green and improvising bandages out of paper towels. (Always stock band-aids for Christmas.)
Around midday, a large vine attempted to strangle and decapitate Mike, so the trim mower jeep was abandoned and we reverted to our traditional non-consumerist Christmas activity, the afternoon Cross-Country Golf tournament. In XC golf, the winner of the last hole selects the next green to be played and the route to be used.
That particular Christmas, Dad ignored the golfers who had slipped out onto the course to test their new golf instruments . . . or were just escaping the post-consumerist aftermath. All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas, except for the Scroogian old pro raising sand about folks "stealin' golf" and Uncle Virgil making a birdie on a par 14 to win the day.
The non-consumerist Christmas seems special in my memory, yet the times of plenty are so easily forgotten. There's a message in there somewhere but I hesitate to say it.
Merry Christmas from Rockbottum CC!