I’m sure everyone was sad upon hearing of Jim Martin’s passing yesterday. We have Carole and all of Jim’s family in our prayers and thoughts. Jim was a long-time member of our golf community, but he was much more than that. I can’t count the number of times I heard someone point to Jim and say, “I hope I’m out here playing golf like that when I’m his age.” Jim was what we all want to be when we grow up.
When I was trying to decide where to play golf or if I would even keep playing after moving here I tested a variety of area courses and clubs. What drew me to the Flying L was the spirit of the people who played here. Jim Martin embodied that spirit.
Jim was famous for hitting it straight down the middle of the fairway and happily plugging along until he rolled the ball into the hole on the 18th green with that left-handed putter of his. There were many times that the rest of the group hit the ball past Jim but few times it showed on the scorecard. It was not at all unusual to be beaten by his unassuming, quiet game. Jim obviously enjoyed those times but he never gloated. He just collected his winnings, smiled, and bought a beer for the vanquished.
Jim lived his life like he played golf. Quiet, unassuming excellence without fanfare that left a lasting impression on everyone he met. I’m going to miss him and I’m sure that’s true of all of us.
I considered taking a photo of sunset over the 12th hole at the Flying L and using it for this piece. I saw Jim make his 4th career ace on that hole. But I don’t think I want to remember Jim with the sun going down and I don’t think he would want to be remembered that way. He was more of a sunny afternoons kind of guy.
The next time I’m moaning about needing to hit a 6 iron where I formerly hit a 7, I’ll remember the wood (I think he hit driver) Jim used to make that ace on number 12. I’ll happily pull out my 6 iron. I might hit a 5 and actually get to the center of the green.
The next time I’m whining about how hard it is to play in the wind and the heat I’ll remember extending a rake to Jim so he could pull himself out of a bunker and watching him learn how to operate that contraption he used to tee the ball without bending over. I’ll drink some water, tee up my ball, and swing away.
The next time my score is ballooning and I’m wondering why I play this maddening game I’ll remember the rounds I played with Jim. It’s days on the golf course with folks like him that make the game what it can be. I’ll miss those rounds with Jim. The best way to honor Jim Martin will be to squeeze as many rounds like that out of life that we can. That’s what he did and we owe him at least that much.
But most of all, I’ll remember the feeling I had when I saw Jim Martin tooling down the road in his cart, on his way to a round of golf. I was glad to see him coming because I knew the day would be better for it. And if he was in my foursome it would be even better.