A Chance Encounter With an Old-Time Pro

Editor’s note: I enjoy getting emails from readers. The following one, published with permission, came from Stan Polkowski. Stan realized during an August round of golf that he was playing with an old-time club pro and a man who used to compete on the PGA Tour.

I WAS GOLFING TODAY AT FOX CREEK golf course, a public course in Livonia, Michigan. The starter let me (age 60) and my friend off the back nine first. As we approached the 1st tee for our second nine, we could see a foursome of women teeing off from the front tee box. There were two older golfers waiting for the women to start as I pulled our cart up to the tee box. I asked them if we should make it a foursome and they said fine as we would be waiting on the women ahead.

They introduced themselves as Joe and Larry. I wrote their names down on my scorecard so I would remember their names. Joe said that he was a member of Oakland Hills Golf Club in Birmingham (where they played the U.S. Open). Joe said they were playing the club championship at Oakland Hills so he was playing at this public course in Livonia with his friend Larry. Joe also said that he plays golf with the Detroit baseball great Al Kaline, who I knew was a member of Oakland Hills and a very good golfer.

I could see from his first few shots that Larry was a very good golfer for 85 years old.

Larry said that he has lived in Livonia for the last 60 years. He had a very smooth swing but did generate some good swing speed with the driver. As we talked, Joe said that Larry used to be a very good professional golfer in his days and played in many professional tournaments.

Larry mentioned some of the tournaments and famous professionals he had played with in past days. He showed me a wallet-sized newsspaper article from Florida that showed he had won a driving contest. I asked Larry what his last name was so that I could Google his name to see his golfing history. It was Larry Tomasino.

Larry was just a delightful guy to not only play golf with but to listen to his golfing history and stories of the professionals that he golfed with. He said that he knew Jack Fleck and that there was a book about Jack and, if I understood him correctly, had his name (Larry) mentioned a few times. This must be the book that you wrote, THE LONGEST SHOT.

It was a delightful nine holes of golf. Joe and Larry did not even keep score. Joe had not played too much recently because of some health problems and Larry had recently gone through some chemo and also had not played much recently, but was out having fun with his longtime friend, Joe.

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Neil Sagebiel

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