Forty mile per hour wind gusts blow in off the North Sea. The Old Course is taking prisoners. Leader Rory McIlroy bogeys four holes and is now seven shots back. Tiger says it’s going to be tough, you’ve got be patient and lag putt well. His stake in the match is high. He could become the only man to win three U. S. Opens at St. Andrews.
So, this lag putt thing. It’s a long putt that a golfer doesn’t expect to make but hopes to get close to the cup, usually leaving it a bit short – within two feet of the hole – so that the second putt is easy to make. Isn’t that what we all do? Aim and hope to get close. Then we try again, and, if we’re patient like Tiger, we knock it in.
It’s a rough day at the British Open but nothing like life in the Ozarks during the Depression. You had to work the land to eat and do whatever it took to survive. Maudie White Hopkins, and her husband William Cantrell, a Confederate Army veteran sixty-seven years her senior, understood the lag putt.
Union in Baxter, Arkansas
They stand pinned upon coarse ground,
the blunt-faced man and a hardscrabble girl,
cleansed from regret,
bonded to time,
and stare at a sky white as old bones.
She has no wildness in her,
willfulness or lust,
this young Maudie White Hopkins
who put her childhood away
for William Cantrell, a Grey Back,
a brittle treasure from Pikeville,
in front of the justice of the peace.
William offers her his home,
cold comfort in old furniture and mirrors turned to the wall,
gravid cows in forsaken fields,
and a mule named Kit
if she will help him find relief
from the flaws of his eighty-six years,
if she will marry him and keep his life awake.
She fears crude gossip
but does what she has to,
what she must,
She pays her tithe of loss and gain,
and at dawn’s scant light,
drinks coffee and indifference.
Maudie is nineteen,
making a fried peach pie
when William asks.
Yes, Mr. C, I will.