A night of teenage passion leads to an unplanned pregnancy followed by a lower-middle-class struggle to make ends meet.
Like most mothers, Rayelene Purler envisions great things for her child. In an attempt to introduce her stuttering son to a slice of life the family can ill afford, she arranges for free summer instructional lessons at Prairie Winds Golf Course on the east side of St. Louis.
After the first ball is struck, head pro J Dub Schroeder senses a child prodigy in his midst. The lad soon becomes known as Opur for his propensity to sink putts with an old, worn-out putter that was gathering dust in the lost-and-found barrel.
Tragedy at home, a future without aim and an unexpected sudden love interest color Opur’s journey. J Dub mentors the young man and encourages him to use the principles in the game of golf and apply them to everyday life.
Follow the action as a young underdog perseveres and fights for his dream on the hallowed grounds of America’s greatest golfing event—The Classic.
The collection of books by James Ross is for the avid reader. They are delivered from Prairie Winds Golf Course which sits high atop the Mississippi river bluffs east of St. Louis.
Owen’s eyes got as wide as oysters in a half shell. “D…D…D…Dad, what are you d…d…d…doing?”
“It’ll only hurt for a second.” Owen, Sr. brushed his wife’s hand away from the foot. “This will numb it a little so that you won’t feel the needle as much.”
Rayelene stepped back and placed her hand on her hips. “Are you out of your mind? We need to git him to the emergency room.”
Impatiently Owen, Sr. looked at his wife. “Grab a needle and some white thread. It’s the same thing that some ER doctor would do.” He helped his son up from the floor and set him on the breakfast bar.
“You heard me! Hurry up. We’ve got a lot to do today.”
Owen squirmed as the cold ice sent an uncomfortable sensation through his foot. “D…D…D…Dad!”
“Every little boy has to grow up sometime. It’ll only hurt for a minute or two. We gotta git it to stop bleeding.” Owen, Sr. turned to his wife and watched as she threaded the strand through the eye in the needle. “You ready?”
Rayelene closed her eyes; the stress was giving her a headache. She wasn’t going to argue with her husband anymore. “I’m ready.”
Nada removed the ice pack from Owen’s foot. “Close it up.”
Rayelene steadied her hand. She looked into Owen’s eyes. “I’m sorry, Honey. We don’t have the money to do it right.” With pinpoint accuracy she pierced the skin and forced the needle through to the other side of the slice.
“N…N…N…Not much. M…M…M…Mom’s been taking me t…t…t…to the g…g…g…golf course.”
“She’s takin’ you where?” The hood was covered with a fresh coat of paint and both sides were nearly completed.
“The g…g…g…golf course.”
“PBR!” Nada rolled the roller across the top of the car while Owen applied paint to the trunk.
Rayelene bounced out of the house in her housecoat and flip-flops. “Can you hold it down a little? All the neighbors will want to know what’s goin’ on over here.”
“The boy says that you’ve been takin’ him to the golf course.”
“You know that costs money.”
“I’m payin’ for it with my own money. That’s what he wants to do and the pro said that he’s doin’ real good.”
“I don’t know ‘bout all that. He won’t ever be able to take it much further.”
“Whatcha mean?” She looked at the coat of paint that was on the car.
“In life. It costs too much to play.”
J Dub walked out the door with Owen following. They headed for the cart barn. “We have to clean out the carts when they finish,” the pro explained. “If a golfer calls back and we have what they describe then we’ll give it back to them. But if we don’t get a call then as far as I’m concerned others can have what’s been found and gone unclaimed.”
“L…L…L…Let’s hope a p…p…p…putter is in there.”
An old wooden barrel sat inside the cart barn. In it were head covers, mittens, gloves, windbreakers, a sweater, an old pair of golf shoes, one tennis shoe, a pitching wedge, a six-iron, several golf towels, four ball hats and an old putter.
“Looks like we’re in luck,” J Dub said as the duo went through all of the
items one by one.
“Th…Th…Th…That’s beautiful,” Owen said as J Dub handed him the putter. The putter was an old Bull’s Eye model manufactured by Titleist. The grip was badly worn. The head was weathered and had a few nicks on the top of it. It was the style that had a thin gold-plated face with the rear end of the putter curled upward like a pair of shoes on a troll in a fairy tale. The shaft came into the club face at almost a ninety-degree angle.
“I don’t know about the beauty of it,” J Dub replied, “but it will get you started on the practice green.” He examined the club. “It looks like it has seen better days.”
“I…I…I…It looks p…p…p…perfect to me,” Owen said as he admired the club.
“Then we’ll go with it. We’re heading to the part of the game that separates the players that can score well from those that don’t.”
“Wh…Wh…Wh…What do you m…m…m…mean?”
“This game is all about getting the ball in the hole,” J Dub said as the pair headed back toward the clubhouse. “The guys that can putt are the ones that win golf tournaments.”
Fred looked out the window of the clubhouse as Easy Earl reached into the cup and took the ball out of the hole. BT and Rollie sat on a bench alongside of the practice green. Turning to Julie he said, “I haven’t seen him miss in nearly an hour.”
“Who? Opur?” Julie asked.
“Yeah,” Fred said.
“They take turns emptying the cup and rolling them back to him,” Julie said. She was at the sink wetting a bar rag to wipe down the counter. “I think his record is around 550 in a row.”
“That’s the goofiest setup I’ve ever seen,” the overweight golfer said. He was in awe. “And I thought that I was a good putter. That kid doesn’t miss.”
“J Dub worked with him until they got it figured out.”
Fred walked to the lost-and-found barrel and pulled out an errant club. He dropped a ball onto the floor and approached it from the opposite side. “Heck, I can’t even use this club from that side of the ball.” He returned it to the container.
“J Dub said that it was lucky that they had a Bulls Eye putter.”
“Yeah, but still.” Fred’s voice dropped off as he returned to the window. Rollie was rolling a handful of balls back to Opur. “Look at those guys.”
“It gives them something to do,” Julie said, “and it keeps them from arguing with each other in here.”
“I can’t believe it,” Fred repeated. “Left side of the ball. Right hand low. Split grip. And he’s got his hand twisted at an impossible angle. You wouldn’t think that a broken collarbone would make you a better golfer, would you?”
Julie shrugged. “You gotta do what you gotta do.”
Fred grabbed a doughnut out of the box setting on the counter. “Maybe if I eat four of these today instead of three my golf game will improve.” He laughed, took a bite out of the pastry and jerked his head back as crème filling squirted out the back.
“You were that close?” J Dub asked incredulously.
Opur wiped his nose on his forearm. “I thought he was going to shoot me next.”
J Dub paused for a second to digest what he just heard. “Okay, first off I’m sorry for putting you in that situation.”
“It’s not your fault,” Opur said. “I like working there.”
“Yeah, but I don’t want you to…”
“Don’t worry about it,” Opur said. “It’s just that it happened so fast. I didn’t expect it.”
“Well,” J Dub began, “I kind of feel responsible. This is a critical time for you right now.” He paused, feeling the weight of his words. “I want to make sure that you get the proper direction and guidance.” Heartfelt concern was etched in J Dub’s eyes. “You don’t have anybody to turn to.” The pro reached into his pocket, pulled out a handkerchief and blew his nose. “Look, it’s going to be tough for you right now. You’re going to have to reach out for every bit of strength that you can muster.” J Dub placed his hands on Opur’s shoulders and looked him square in the eye. “It’s going to take perseverance. When you look back on this years from now you’ll realize the strength it took to get through it.”
Opur took a deep breath and calmed down. “Yeah,” he mumbled, “I guess.”
“I’m here for you. I want you to know that,” J Dub said. “But just as important, I want you to realize that there are going to be situations like this all of your life and you’re going to have to make good decisions.”
“It wasn’t my fault.”
“I know that,” J Dub said. “What I meant was that things aren’t always going to go your way and you’re going to have to battle through some adversity in life. It’s going to get real lonely.” He pulled Opur closer and embraced him. “I want you to know that I’m going to be there for you.”
Julie watched the pair through the window. As the two embraced a tingling sensation swept through her body.
“You wouldn’t have believed Opur’s lie on the first hole,” Monique said seductively. “It was lucky they found his ball.”
“That could have been pear shaped,” Callum interrupted. “He might have dropped more than two shots if that had happened.”
“What do their lies look like here?” Trent asked.
“Both are perfect. Tank is two hundred and forty-four yards out and Opur is two forty-six. They should both have the green light to go for the putting surface.”
The pair of golfers had to wait for the green to clear. J Dub placed Opur’s bag on the ground. The kid sat on the support ring on the bottom of the bag and placed his head between his legs. “I don’t have the patience for this today,” Opur complained. He put the palms of his hands behind his ears and pressed on the back of his head.
“You’re going to have to get it together,” J Dub coaxed. He walked around the bag, bent over at the waist and lowered his head to the same level as Opur’s. “Now look. I’ve told you all along that this wasn’t going to be easy,” he began in a whisper that was not audible to the others that were in hearing range. “You’ve worked all your life for this moment. We’re paired with the number one golfer in the world on the final day at the finest golf tournament in the history of the world. Understand?”
Opur raised his head slightly and mumbled.
J Dub placed both of his hands on Opur’s shoulders. “Look at me.” Their eyes met. “I told you a long time ago that you were going to have to persevere to be successful in this game. You’re going to have to battle through the setbacks. We’ve got a job to do out here.”