My daughter and I recently enjoyed a mountaintop experience at the spectacular Primland Resort located near Meadows of Dan off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwest Virginia.
Some have described the Highland Course at Primland as possibly the most beautiful in the world. It is certainly mountain golf at its finest. The course is routed, and tee times are assigned so that seeing another golfer on the course is rare. On our visit, in fact, we did not see another human being as we traversed the course. We did see deer and wild turkey and were warned to stay clear of the mother black bear and her three cubs.
We enjoyed incredible golf and more incredible vistas. At Primland, distractions are unavoidable and the player’s concentration can easily wander. Missing a green or a fairway by as little as five yards can result in the golf ball disappearing down a 1,000-foot embankment. The “safe” shot found me playing out of British Open-like pot bunkers on more than one occasion. Greens were as large as I’d ever seen and many were sectored. Putting from one sector to another often yielded a second putt of 20 feet or so, if you were lucky enough to strike a good first putt. Primland is a very difficult golf course.
With published green fees of $200 per player, Primland charges more than triple what I normally am willing to pay. I have given up opportunities to play some wonderful golf courses, most notably Harbourtown in Hilton Head, because the green fee was a bit too rich for my blood. The trip to Primland, however, was not about golf, it was about a daddy-daughter experience. The golf was unbelievable, but the day spent with Sarah was priceless. We are somewhat competitive soles, as I have noted in previous columns, but on this day our score on any particular hole seemed totally inconsequential. The smiles continued to come easily even after another triple bogie.
I am trying to change my life. I have spent the first 54-plus years thinking and preparing for the future. I have been a passionate saver. At Matoaca, I became notorious as the ultimate cheapskate, as I would re-use my baggies until they would take on the vibrant orange color of the carrots they would carry to school each day. I have never been one with a desire to accumulate “things,” but I have been one who has routinely given up opportunities waiting for a time that will be better.
I thank one of my favorite writers, Ray McAllister, for a recent column entitled, Decisions Not Made. He quoted the wonderful John Lennon song Beautiful Boy, in which was written, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” McAllister went on to amend Lennon’s words: “It’s not only making other plans that keeps us from living, but more often making no plans at all.” His point is that we continually miss doing things we should do and, even more significantly, what we want to do.
I couldn’t get McAllister’s words out of my mind. I was inspired several days later to cut out the column and put it on the fridge as a daily reminder. Then, less than a month later, our family was struck by a terrible tragedy that made it abundantly clear that there is no guarantee of a tomorrow. That was the week that I called Primland and scheduled our tee time. A first step, but a big step. More planned experiences are forthcoming, including a trip to a Nats’ game with my dad next month.
I invite you to join me in my new life that I hope will be dominated by the building of memories through experiences rather than the accumulation of things. Start by telling someone you love them and then show them. Although somewhat morbid, the quote from the great economist John Maynard Keynes is clear: “In the long run ... you’re dead.”