“The Skins Game” and It’s Make Up

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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An older gentleman who we only guess as to age. I have to make sure that I have an ample supply of quarters and dollars as he only carries hundred dollar bills and plays for quarters. His counterpart is the very young guy who thinks he is going to take all the old guy’s cash, he normally walks the course. His warm up is designed by a personal trainer, everyone watches the blend of stretches and flexes.  

The older guy has a warm up also, a cup of coffee with Bailey’s and a scotch chaser. He also smokes a cigar that I am certain he found. Now I love the smell of a good cigar, that exotic aroma that you catch. The one my old guy smokes is clamped between the molars and looks like it has been grazed on. The part in his mouth has stained the corners of his lips. Its aroma is locker room stale air with unwashed socks. 

The young guy carries heart healthy snacks, with fruit and a designer water bottle filled with some special water. His water is the brand that gets its product from the glaciers in Norway, never touched by human hands and is blessed by five different religions.  

My older guy? Well, he has a styrofoam cup he has kept for years. The top of it has teeth marks from either worry, boredom or denture alignment. The sides have reminders to get groceries and phone numbers. He carries a candy bar, Slim Jim and a bag of crushed potato chips.

My young guy has a new set of the high tech equipment, he calibrates the woods each round and will have the grooves of each iron spotless. The grips will also be new and as clean as possible. The clubs are arranged in the bag with a reason and he will have golf balls that are all marked differently.

My older guy, well he has clubs but I cannot tell what they are due to caked mud and other grass like substances. He has zero head covers and all his woods have pits on them. The irons are in no order and a few are upside down, they are being punished he answers when asked why. His markings on balls are scuff marks, or holes dug out by his pocket knife. 

My young guy has a putter that has groove technology, it will impart a true roll and alignment aids on the top are personally designed for him. The grip is one that is designed for the size of his hands and is set to his personal specifications. 

My older guy has a putter, it is older than vintage. Its face looks like a pinball hammer has been used. The alignment aid is where he took a file and cut a sight line on the club. It shows the vice must have slipped as the sight line has a look more like the Grand Canyon. His grip has electrician’s tape at the top, and the base of the grip has a rip that looks to be bigger each time I see it. The texture is slick on slick. You can get a better grip on ice!  

At rounds end, my young guy always comes into the shop and gets change to pay the older guy. It never varies. “Gosh, I almost had him today,” he says as he gets change. He pays $11.75 in bets and is on his way. The old guy tips the bar and grill $5 and the outside services $5, puts $1 in his pocket and throws the change into his bag. This bag weighs about 50 pounds as it is carrying over $140 in quarters. 

“See you next week, Hank,” I say. He turns around and looks at me. “Are you still giving George lessons?” George is the young guy. “Yes, I am,” I answer. He shakes his head and mutters, “Damn waste of money”.         

Tom Velarde is a Golf Professional at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email tvelarde@blackmesagolfclub.com.