From 1961-1974, my father Jack Grout was the head golf professional at La Gorce Country Club which sits smack dab in the middle of Miami Beach. Occasionally, when his work schedule permitted he would saunter over to poolside and watch my younger sister Debbie and I splash around in the water, and whenever he did that he could always get our immediate attention by giving us that distinct whistle of his. In short order, the two of us would look up, see him, then excitedly exit the water and hurry to his side.
Once, while I was standing next to him I caught a glimpse of a huge circular, red and black sphere that was in the distance. At that point, not knowing what it was, I asked dad if the strange thing was some kind of target meant for bows and arrows. I remember he looked at me kind of funny. Then, he told me to change out of my wet swimming suit so he could give me a closer look. After the two of us walked around the side of the clubhouse, we proceeded down to the club’s golf practice area, and it was then and there that the proverbial “light” came on for me. The oversized target was definitely not an aiming point for archery; it was a target meant for the many golfers who were out there trying to improve their games. Much later on I realized the real purpose behind my visit to the practice tee, and I can tell you that it involved a lot more than just seeing the target. Actually, my father’s true intention was to give me my first glimpse into his world.
When my dad took me to see that big bulls-eye positioned at the far end of the driving range at La Gorce Country Club, I got to see the same wonderful sight he first had encountered in Oklahoma City forty-four summers earlier, a sight that led to his lifetime love affair with the game of golf. Getting my first peek at the “greatest game ever” was something I never forgot. It actually resulted in me following in my dad’s footsteps and becoming a playing professional and member of the PGA of America, just like him. Golf has truly been a major part of my life, as it was of his.