My friend showed how golf, life should be played

 

Integrity. That’s the word that comes most to mind when I think of Bob Simmons, my friend and golfing buddy. I mean, here’s a man so honorable, so dedicated to following the rules of golf and life one couldn’t help but try to emulate him.

 

Needless to say, he was the leader of our golfing group. I called him “The Boss.” He set up our tee times, kept score for all of us and made himself an example of how the game should be played. He raked every trap after hitting out of one, fixed every ball mark on the green whether it was his or not, never moved the ball off the fairway, counted every stroke.

 

In the winter, some courses allow moving the ball on the fairway. “Six inches,” Simmons would say. “Only six inches either sideways or backwards but never forward.” And he kept an eagle eye on us to make sure we followed that and other standards. You accidentally did something wrong? “Two strokes,” he would say, smiling but meaning it and marking it down on the scorecard.

 

YET, HERE was a man who was so kind, so warm-hearted, so generous he would literally give you the shirt off his back. I once remarked while playing that I had lost a “bullseye” putter many years ago when I was younger and wished I could find one like it again. Unbeknown to me at the time, he was a collector of golf equipment. The next time we played, he had a bullseye putter for me. I begged to pay him. He wouldn’t dream of it. 

 

He loved life, chocolate and his family and friends. And anyone will tell you he lived his life the way he played golf. He was a dedicated husband, a successful and highly respected businessman and a beacon of light to those around him.

 

SOME MONTHS ago he became ill. It turned out to be cancer. Unsurprisingly, he fought it tooth and nail but it was a battle he couldn’t win. He passed away last Monday.  He suffered quite a bit the last weeks of his life and he knew the outcome was not far off so he left us a message that we who knew him will cherish to the end of our days.

He wrote that he been blessed with a “fantastic family,” his “truly great friend and business partner (Ed Spinnler)” and his “great friends” with whom he enjoyed “the great game of golf.”

 

And at the end of the message, he wrote “Thank you, Father, for a fantastic life” and asked Him to take care of his family and friends.

 

I SPENT many good times with Bob Simmons on and off the golf course. I especially remember going to dinner then afterwards going to see the movie about the 1966 Texas Western Miners, Glory Road, with him, his wife Frances and other members of our golf group. He enjoyed the movie tremendously and having him and his wife along made it that much more special for me.

I mourn his passing deeply, as I know his family and other members of our golf group do, but I take comfort in knowing heaven will be an even better place with him there.

 

Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at rayf358@yahoo.com or online at www.raysanchezbooks.com