Saying Goodbye to the Sunshine Boy

(From the ARMCHAIR GOLF archives.)

By Charles Prokop

Copyright © Charles Prokop. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Saying Goodbye to the Sunshine Boy 1
The Sunshine Boy headed south when temps dipped.

THE SUNSHINE BOY HAS PASSED away. He died several hours after suffering a heart attack on a Florida golf course, so he spent his last hours doing something he loved.

Sunshine was a regular member of our golf group when he was in town. He moved unpredictably between Texas and Florida, dodging hurricanes in Florida and cold (to him) Texas winters. If it was below 60 degrees in the mornings here, he was on his way to Florida.

He’d been having some health problems and was slowing down, but he always played golf. His drives and his steps got shorter, but his pace of play never slowed and he never slowed down his group. He could get out of his cart, hit the ball, and be going down the fairway again before you’d selected your club for your own shot. He’d hit it short but straight, keep doing that until he hit the green, and then putt well. Try playing a round with your 150-yard club, a wedge, and a putter and see how you do. That’s Sunshine golf.

I’ll remember him most for his attitude. Despite his health problems, he never complained. He might mutter about the medical system and trying to get information out of a doctor, but the only way he mentioned his health was in a joke. He never asked for sympathy, but appreciated help if it was offered casually.

There’s a par 3 at our course that requires a carry over a pond. Sunshine got to where he rarely carried the water, but he didn’t think it was fair to move up to where he could carry it. So he’d bang away and get wet nearly every time. Once his ball seemed to bounce off the water and onto the green, leading to a running joke about needing to let his trained turtles know when he was back in town so they’d get under his ball when it hit the water. I’ll always think of him on that tee.

If you’re looking for a way to handle aging, illness, and golf, you need to look no further than the Sunshine Boy. He’ll be missed.

Charles Prokop is a clinical psychologist who writes about golf at fairwaywords.

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

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