I’ve enjoyed traveling the country, picking up tidbits about courses, schools, players and tournaments. This continent, from top to bottom, is so interesting in terms of terrain and culture, and it’s easy to see why the game of golf has prospered here to such a degree.
Yesterday, we were to cross the Mexican border, where my intent was to continue sending along my observations, all the way to Puerto Vallarta, then to the eastern coast and back. However, we received a call in the evening that Aaron had passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly. Plans were changed, and we began to drive north instead, from Borrego Springs to Dundee, Oregon. We did it in one day.
Aron was a golfer, and came from a family of golfers. His grandfather, in fact, was a pro, and a course manager. The legend of the man’s passion for the game is still the subject of much talk. I played a few rounds of golf with Aron’s father, way back when. He took every available second to play, and was a greens-keeper for courses around eastern and central Pennsylvania. In fact, he once got me onto Tamiment for 18, a course and resort in the Poconos that had hosted the U.S. Open and the Danny Kaye. What a work of art that day was.
Between the two of us, we lost so many golf balls per hole that the Guiness Book of World Records should have been following us around. We tried betting by the stroke and hole to nudge our games into a higher level, but in the end, we were too ashamed to accept the money. Beating someone’s quintuple bogey with a quadruple just wasn’t our idea of good athletic competition. In truth, he was a quite a bit better than that, but I couldn’t have stayed on those skinny fairways with a croquet mallet and a lead ball.
I played with Aron’s brother as well, back in State College. He was a natural athlete, mostly baseball-oriented, and by the time we’d gotten a few holes under our belts, that athleticism began to come out. He kindly ignored my lack of it, and we both watched in admiration as his son, almost a beginner, beat the stew out of both of us.
My family was full of golfers as well, some terrific and some just passionate. Everyone in both families played, but by the time I met Aron, he had other considerations that limited his play – two small sons and a host of back injuries requiring constant attention. So, I got to see a lot of him, but we never made it to the course. We talked about it a few times, but never got out there.
Aron was not an easy person to know. He had a keen intellect and a broad knowledge of things, besides being a stellar, award-winning vintner. In high-level conversations, he was tolerant of ignorance, so long as it was willing to educate itself. It was inauthenticity that rankled him, though, and visiting him urged one to up his game as a straightforward human being. In retrospect, watching the Masters with him was like attending a festival of life celebrated once each century – but we still never got ourselves out there.
Aron was physically strong, with powerful shoulders, arms and legs. He probably hit the ball a country mile, but I never got to see it. No, we talked about Bach’s “Art of Fugue,” the Higgs-Boson particle and the heavyweight boxing division, but we never got to play golf together.
We’ll have a service of remembrance for Aron next weekend. He’ll be remembered as a complicated person possessing much to admire. And then, life will never be the same. Aron was my wife Barbara’s oldest son. She is, of course, trying to cope with the worst call a mother can receive. In addition to missing him, I grieve as well, on several fronts – and in the back of my mind is a wish that somehow, we had gotten ourselves out to that course.