Thursday, April 16, 2015



   I sometimes joke about it, but there is some truth in the absurdity of it.   I say I change religions in the spring; come spring I am a golf worshiper.  It is a difficult religion because there are many gods – the wind god, the sand god, gods that lurk in the woods, the water god.  To get over a water hazard, I’ll throw a ball in as a sacrifice. 

Alan Toft and Jim Lange in Mesquite, Nevada

   T.V. advertisements for this year’s Masters in Augusta, Georgia finally made me aware of a challenge to my golf faith.  Am I supposed to be excited about a bourgeois event that is an icon of racism and classism?

    I have Master’s history?  In 1949 our caddy master at Oak Park Country Club in suburban Chicago gave the caddies  permission to watch an exhibition match featuring a foursome of Johnny Palmer, Jimmy Thompson, Horton Smith and ‘Errie Ball. ‘  Errie was the current Oak Park pro and Horton Smith preceded him by a few years.  Both had played in early Masters Tournaments with Smith as one of the first winners.

   Errie Ball (His given name was Harry, but we’ll let that go.) was encouraged to emigrate from England by Bobby Jones, one of the founders of the Masters.  Errie was an outstanding ‘tee to green’ player but had trouble on the greens with his putting.  I remember he used to whack the heel of his shoe with his putter when he’d miss a short putt and mutter “gadamit.”  As his caddy I braced myself for the possibility that he might miss and hit his ankle.

   The final round of the Masters this year was Sunday, April 12.  It would be dramatic and a great story.  Twenty-one year old Jordan Spieth was poised to win.  But we had been invited to a Seder Meal at Congregation Sinai.  The Seder Meal commemorates the migration of the Israelites from slavery to the Promised Land.  Among those sponsoring the event was the New Sanctuary Movement of Voces de la Frontera and Miklat, a Jewish support group.  

   Joanne could have gone by herself and then I could have watched the Masters on TV.  I decided to go to the Seder.  It was an emotional experience.  Our Latino families were there – we told our own immigration stories and became more aware that the Exodus narrative of the migration from slavery in Egypt is the basic story of Faith recounting God’s intervention in history for justice and liberation.

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