Gulf Revisited – 2011

Score of ‘59’ beats golfer’s age mark

May 10 – 19, 2011


Part 1: Memphis to Trapp Farm

Part 6: So-So Golf for Birthday Boy

Part 2: Trapp Farm to Gulf Shores, AL

Part 7: Score of ‘59’ beats golfer’s age

Part 3: Golf Practice at Gulf State Park

Part 8: Upgrading Library Privileges

Part 4: Shopping at  Big Box stores

Part 9: Gulf Shores to Pearl, MS

Part 5: Condo Owners. Meeting

Part 10: Drive to home in Memphis


- Updated June 9, 2011


Several photos of the interior of our condo at Gulf Village, Ala., are posted on the website of our property manager, Kaiser Realty, which also has pix of the exterior of the complex as well as area beach shots. There are additional pix mainly taken by Betty Nolan during our trips to the area in recent years. They are posted at in various albums registered under Lewis “Buzz” Nolan’s email address. Email for instructions how to access the Kaiser pictures and also the Nolan pictures.  




May 16, 2011 – Monday – The year’s first golf score that “beats” my age of 68


It being my birthday, I slept in a bit and didn’t arise until 8 a.m. to a glorious breakfast of ham and eggs cooked in our condo’s tiny kitchen by Betty. We then drove a few miles to the State Park Golf Course, where I had a solo tee time of 10:08 a.m. I planned to play only 9 holes because it’s been so long since I’ve played any serious golf. Betty accompanied me and would drive the golf cart and keep up with the scorecard so I could put my entire focus on the game and long-dormant swing.


I somehow managed to score a fairly respectable “59” despite the layoff of 4 or more years. Even better, I lost no golf balls on the fairly long course. But neither did I score any pars or birdies on the 9 holes I played. On the positive side, there were no “pick-ups” of the ball in the face of truly awful progress on individual holes. There were admittedly 7 holes where I scored worse than bogey (1 over par), but I took only 19 putts on the greens of 9 holes.


To real golfers, that’s not too terribly bad when my age of 68 and the many months of non-play for medical reasons is taken into consideration. To put it into a perspective that most golfers of average ability can understand, I still look back with pride quite a few years to the best score of my life of 79 for 18 holes on the same course.


The State Park course where I played my best-ever round about 20 years ago was looking a little ratty because of the recent drought. Much of the fairway grass was light-colored brown because of the lack of rainfall. There were patches of bare dirt and the water levels in the small lakes and ponds seemed low.


I teed off just before 10 a.m. Thankfully, the groups behind me never pushed me into hurried shots. I only had to wait a very few minutes for a group I caught up to on the ninth hole to clear the green. Fortunately, I happened to hit a decent drive off the tee on that hole, flying over the small pond just in front of the tee box by a comfortable margin.


Happy with my two-putting the 9th green for a score of 6 on the hardest handicap hole on the front side of the course, I concluded my round. Betty and I parked the golf cart and repaired to the snack bar, where we enjoyed really good BLT sandwiches cooked by manager Deborah. Betty enjoyed a sample of Duck and Rice Soup brought from home by longtime snack bar employee “Sunshine,” a Korean “war bride.”


On the drive from the golf course back to our condo, we stopped at a nearby Wal-Mart to exchange several hot oven pans and to purchase some fresh-caught shrimp.


All in all, it was a delightful morning, made so by a better-than-expected round of golf on a wide-open course, Betty’s supportive company and a nice lunch. Back at the condo, I took a short nap while Betty ventured out to the nearby Tanger Mall since her favorite local dress shop, “Smart & Sassy” had closed early for the day.


Later in the day, we stopped by the public library to check our email (finding that I had more than 100 pending messages backed up). But at least my mid-day check of the day’s action in the stock market was reasonably positive. With a portion of my retirement riding on the performance of several Blue Chip stocks and other conservative investments, that’s always good news.


We had a great dinner that evening of fresh boiled shrimp and watched an excellent documentary on PBS about the Freedom Riders, the interracial group that braved the dangers and outright hostility of the Deep South in the early 1960s to those mainly young people who tried to ride Greyhound and Trailways buses across the South in violation of state and local racial separation laws.


I was amazed and downright astounded to learn from the TV show how very little knowledge I had at the time of the Freedom Ridges when I was a student at the University of Mississippi in the early and mid-1960s. Of course I was familiar with what was called “the movement,” but I knew very little about the actual hardships the brave bus riders and their supporters went through. Seeing the televised history brought back some old memories of when I would carefully drive through small towns in Mississippi in my MGA convertible with California license plates. I still remember noticing that many approaching drivers of pickup trucks would reach for their car radios when they passed me (at the time I suspected they were notifying somebody that a possible “outside agitator” had just passed them on the highway.


In reality, while I did my best to “fit in” with new acquaintances and friends from the Deep South and several years later married a native Mississippian, I was mainly ignorant of the reality of the times. Moreover, I came to realize that I had been politically far away from the passions of a great many college students of the period in Mississippi. I recall going to some trouble to acquire a large window sticker saying “Ole Miss” and putting on my car’s rear window, thinking that might give me a smidgeon of “protection” from the hostilities of the day toward “slumming” outsiders.


One of the odd memories I have of my time during that period was being offered several dollars by a middle-aged man in a bar to get a haircut (I had slightly longer-than-normal hair inspired by the British singing group, The Beatles, of the day).


Thanking the roadside bar patron, I took the offered money and spent it on beer. In reality, the favored topics of conversation in the Ole Miss fraternity house and dormitories in which I lived in the early and middle 1960s were the campus beauties, nearby bootlegger’s drive-in liquor shop called “Johnny’s” and college and high school football teams.


It wasn’t until much later that I went through an epiphany of sorts and came to understand that no matter my presumed “coolness” in my early twenties I was at heart little more than a “frat boy” in those formative years.


It wasn’t until I had flunked out of Ole Miss and fell short of officer candidate training camp fitness standards that I “came of age” and finally started doing my best to “measure up” as I aged into my mid-twenties. While in the Marine Corps I worked hard as a budding journalist and became editor of the Quantico base newspaper, married the love of my life (Betty Trapp of Philadelphia, Miss.), entered graduate school at Mississippi State and went to work as a News Bureau Chief in Columbus, Miss., for The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, then one of the largest 20 newspapers in the U.S.


Now, I can look back with pride at a fairly long record of hard work, loyalty to my employers and sufficient intellect and skills to take advantage of some wonderful opportunities and good friendships – which combined with my marriage to a wonderful woman of high intelligence, made for a success far beyond what my earlier years had indicated.


Like a “peacetime patriot,” I somehow underwent some of the real-life lessons of the Apostle Paul two millennia ago; my outlook on human and political matters “changed with the times” in terms of my social life and work experiences.


Now that we are in the 21st Century, I sometimes recall the unpleasant history of Alabama and other southern states with racial and generational conflicts in the latter half of the 20th Century. I believe and take a lot of pride being on the “front lines” while experiencing the social change and playing a small role in helping bring about acceptance of a good bit of our fellow Americans during some of that change through my work as a newspaper reporter in North Mississippi and later the Memphis area during the late 1960s and early 1970s.


Just this week – and for the first time I can remember in the more than two decades we’ve owned a condo on the Alabama Gulf Coast – there is a large African-American family renting the two-bedroom condo next to ours at Gulf Village. I’m not aware of them facing any blatant discrimination or hostility. They, or their relatives and friends, might have been subjected to that some years ago. I no longer see pick-up trucks parading along the beach road while flying large, Confederate flags carried by white teenaged boys.


I’m glad to see that times have changed – for the better, to be sure.


(Continue with Part 8 of this trip  /  Return to Nolan Travels Home Page.)