Originally posted on December 11, 2020.
You don’t go to Key West to golf, but, if you’re in Key West and want to, then you’re in for a treat. There’s a great 18-hole, southernmost course just outside of Old Town KW. It’s just far enough to enjoy your chocolate croissant and con leche or to split a cuban mix from 5 Brothers on your drive.
Now being a public/private course and the only one, it gets a lot of play. Tee times are required and if you’re a twosome you’ll soon be paired up into a foursome whether you like it or not. “Don’t worry,” I said to my son Owen between bites. “Meeting other golfers is like meeting other skiers. Once you break the ice, you end up having the best time together.”
When I was Owen’s age, my dad and I visited colleges down south and carved out plenty of time to golf in Myrtle Beach. Being fairly new to golf, I know what he was thinking about playing with strangers while staring out the window, “I hope I don’t suck today.”
I told him golfers are there to have fun and that some of my favorite golf quotes I learned from strangers. “You know,” I said, “bad drives that hit a tree and bound into in play, ‘That’s not gonna hurt ya,’ and the three worst words in golf ‘still your turn.’”
As we thought about that, two F-18 fighter jets were in formation up ahead, screaming over route A1A before one split off hard left and the other prepared for landing. “That’s so cool,” I said. “That must be the best job,” he said, as I nodded.
After our first round we had two new friends, both bartenders at a cool tiki bar favored by locals. “Come by with Becky while you’re in town,” one of them said. “Owen maybe we’ll see you in a few years.”
On our second outing, we were paired up with brother-in-laws, one visiting for Thanksgiving. At the turn I spoke with one of them asking what he does in Key West. “I’m a fighter pilot,” he said casually between bites of his hotdog. “I’m actually the enemy. I train the guys that come down here with their squadron.”
Embarrassing Owen, I told Tom (not his real name) one of our favorite movies is Top Gun. He said “I went there,” and finished off his dog. I said we love going to the Rhode Island Air Show to see the Blue Angels. “I know the guys,” he said, then he hit his tee shot.
As an aside, a close friend of mine was a swim instructor at the Navy base in Newport. I’ll never forget her telling me “E.J. you’d never pick a SEAL out of a lineup. They look like regular guys.” Now I know exactly what she meant.
The other cool thing, from my perspective as a dad, about playing golf with your son and two strangers, is it’s like dinner at your grandparents. You need to have manners, often in rare supply when it’s just the two of us. On day three, we were paired with a husband and wife couple. You could just tell he was a golfer, even if his best rounds were astern.
He offered Owen two or three words of advice that, if coming from me, would have resulted in two or three holes of angry silence. I’ve gotta say, Key West Golf Course is expensive, especially if you rent clubs (we bring ours), but that alone was worth every penny.
On our fourth and final round, we met our new partner playing alone. I asked what he does down here in Key West and he said “I’m a fighter pilot.” My eyes lit up (again) and said we just played with Tom the other day. “Oh, Maverick? (not real call sign). “He was supposed to be here but something came up.”
Turns out they graduated from Top Gun together. Our new friend chipped in from 50 yards out on the first hole, and I knew it was going to be another good day on the course.
On 18, a pair of Super Hornets flew over at cruising speed. I asked Viper (not his real call sign) what they were doing. He said “They’ll go 150 miles out over the Gulf and fight each other or guys like me and Maverick. They’ve already spent an hour and a half on the ground reviewing today’s plans. I’ll be up there in the morning.”
And just like that, we cleaned up our putts and the round was over. Removing our hats, we shook hands and I thanked him for his service. He said in the most respectful and sincere way, “E.J., believe me the pleasure is all mine.”
“We can see why,” I said as he walked off into the sunset.
Action Line: Like the fighter pilots training against Maverick and Viper, you need to stay ahead of the enemy. In your case, the enemy is inertia. Inertia is what holds you back from making the right investment choices, or preparing your family for trouble ahead. If you’re serious about beating inertia, click here to sign up for my monthly Survive & Thrive newsletter. I’ll push you into action. Remember, only sign up if you’re serious about reaching your goals.
P.S. Survival Guy Greetings from Key West at Sunset – Your Survival Guy is just getting by down here in beautiful Key West. This sunset pic above is from high above Louie’s Backyard last night where Becky and I had a chance to reflect on life for a while. Because it’s times like these you need to take some time for YOU.
P.P.S. RIP Chuck Yeager – The first man to break the sound barrier, Gen. Chuck Yeager, has passed away. Heroic test pilots like Chuck Yeager made today’s advanced jets, like the F-22 Raptor in the video below, possible.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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