Every backyard needs a golf course or at least I thought mine did. That was my thinking as a sixth grader. Did not need to be a full size golf course, mind you, I grew up on a quarter acre in the country. Our lot was about 90 feet wide by about 200 feet deep, pretty much equivalent to a subdivision lot today.
Mike’s Golf Course originated as a 9 hole course, well almost. Three of the holes were repeated to arrive at the 9 hole layout total. All of this was prior to expansion, but you need to start somewhere. I had expansion of my course in mind from the start. All successful business people realize that things must continually evolve to remain fresh and to attract new customers.
Never was it a dream of mine to grow into a chain of golf courses plastered with my name but only to have the best course in Camp Springs. Back to expansion. After the initial year of operation, three holes were added which required expanding into my brother Ervin’s yard next door. What an accomplishment, I now legitimately had 9 distinct holes.
Scorecards were handmade (not copied mechanically) on 3 x 5 index cards which fitted nicely into a handcrafted wooden box to hold them. Today, approximately 50 years later, I still have the box and many of the scorecards. Scorecards were saved and filed to become part of the course’s records.
Not one of us neighborhood kids had a full set of clubs. I had only one five iron that belonged to my brother that I claimed as my own. Most regular golfers were from the immediate neighborhood together with the occasional cousins who visited and some friends of kids in the neighborhood.
Tee #1 was about five feet from our back porch just next to our concrete cistern platform. The longest hole was 120 feet or should I say 40 yards and the shortest approach to this hole in midsummer was over the fully grown corn stalks that were part of my Dad’s garden that was adjacent to the professionally laid out golf course. Instead of flags at the end of poles marking the holes, I used leftover trim boards found in the basement woodpile. Dad was a handyman/carpenter who never threw anything away. Oh my, guess where I got my hoarding genes. I painted the boards white with black hole numbers with a red stripe above and below each number. Each hole (cup) was a salvaged coffee can (hole cut in the bottom to accommodate the wooden hole marker) fitted flush into the ground.
As glorious as all this was, still the main attraction was the floral clock. An old windup clock face was placed into a coffee can that was fitted into a sloped raised dirt bed with transplanted moss around it. Wooden cutout numbers were placed around the clock face with add-ons attached to the clock hands to give it just a bit more size. Heaven forbid that it would look like an old clock pushed into the ground without any adaptations made. Although visitors did not come from near and far to view this wonder, I was proud as could be of it. Little did I count on the clock mechanism rusting solid in a matter of days for being exposed to the weather.
The course also had roughs (overgrown areas of grass with twigs and rocks incorporated). My brother really did not like this look in his manicured backyard.
Even though the course existed for only three years, it was a perfect release for my creative energies and added to some of my best memories of “Growing Up in Camp Springs.”