January 2021

Apologies for being a little late with this month’s issue. Unusual for Home On The Course, there is nothing about golf real estate this month and I mention only one golf community. But it is a doozy, The Villages in Florida. I review a new movie about some of its residents. Also, I’ve discovered a new golf web site you might want to check out. Read on, please.

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Lighten Up with Stick and Hack

Ernest Hemingway once allegedly advised “write drunk, edit sober.”  No hypocrite he, Hemingway certainly lived his words, as did Edgar Allen Poe, Truman Capote and many other successful authors.  Suffice to say that there is evidence that creativity might very well be stoked by the spirits…which brings me to the founding of the famed Sports Illustrated.   

The decision to develop and publish Sports Illustrated sprang from a meeting in 1954 of 67 writers commissioned by the famous magazine publisher Henry Luce (Time, Life, Fortune) to come up with a sports weekly.  Over a few days, they came up with the idea for Sports Illustrated in the clubhouse of the oldest golf course in Myrtle Beach, Pine Lakes Country Club, which opened in 1927.  Lost to history is if they drank their way through the discussion, but chances are pretty good that was the way it wen; magazine writers and editors of the time had a certain reputation for bending the elbow.

I thought of Pine Lakes 1954 last week when a web site called Stick & Hackpublished an article I had written about the pandemic’s effect on real estate sales in the Southeast. (You can read it here.)  Founders Mike Ryan (the stick) and Adam Grubb (the hack) salute the creation of their enterprise with the ubiquitous joke line, “Two guys walk into a bar…”  In their case, they later walked out with a well-formed idea and a decision — to create a different kind of golf web site that would appeal both to “sticks,” those who take golf seriously (maybe some too seriously) and “hacks,” those who play as often as they can, perhaps not particularly well, but love the game in all its sado-masochistic glory.

In other words, StickandHack.com is part information, part entertainment but with a strain of fun running throughout the entire enterprise.  (A video posted at the site is a comedy routine by the two founders, comparing answers to a golf personality test.  Example: “What’s the most beers you have consumed during a round of golf?” Mike: “Six, I think.” Adam: “Thirteen…but I told my wife five.”)

Every Friday is joke day when I receive some bit of hilarity in my email inbox that, if the weather were better in Connecticut in January, I might be repeating on the golf course next week. But don’t get the idea that Stick & Hack is all fun with games.  The lead article on January 15, as I write this, is a beautiful elegy posted by Mike Hembree, a veteran sportswriter with an excellent resume, about a golfing friend who inspired him.  Other recent articles, all archived at the site, include the purposely provocative titles “10 Golfers You Should Be Following on Twitter in 2021,” “Where in the World is Anthony Kim?” and “What the Tiger and Charlie Craze is Really About.”

If you sometimes prefer the spoken word, Stick & Hack has published 40 podcasts already in which Ryan and Grubb banter back and forth about the latest issues related to golf.  They also provide their members — membership is free, by the way — with discounts on a range of merchandise, including some with their logo stitched in.  (Note to my fellow Baby Boomers: “S&H” may remind you of certain green stamps our mothers collected and redeemed for free food and other merchandise in the 1950s and ‘60s.)

Stick & Hack has entered a crowded field of golf-related web sites, but its creators have been able to run their member numbers up from zero to 5,000 since that first day in the bar on May 17, 2019.  Nice to know that a stick and a hack can play well together.

 

Movie Review: Some Kind of Heaven

It is awful when people lose someone they love, those they have lived with happily for years.  It is doubly cruel when a couple moves to a new location after careers and child rearing, and one of them dies before they can enjoy the fruits of their hard work.

Of the three “subjects” in the new documentary Some Kind of Heaven, only one has lost a spouse.  And yet, in ways made clear over the film’s 83 minutes, she is the most noble — worthy of our sympathy but certainly not to be pitied.  The same can’t be said for the other two.  Some of us may pity them and some may think, “Serves you right.”

There is nothing especially uplifting about Some Kind of Heaven.  In one way or another, the lives of these subjects at the famous Villages complex in north central Florida is a living hell.  Lance Oppenheim, the director of the documentary, and his crew take great pains not to make fun of the setting, at least not in any obvious ways.  If the film was your only source of information about The Villages, you wouldn’t know, for example, that it was the scene of some nasty political exchanges during the Presidential race, or that the community of 130,000 reportedly has one of the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases per capita in the nation.  Those subjects are the stuff of an entirely different documentary.

There is some background information on the community’s history, and some footage shows the activities of a relative few of the 3,000 social clubs on site — if your name is Elaine, there is a club especially for you — but for the most part, the documentarians leave it up to its viewers to decide if The Villages is right for them.  (For golfers who, above all else, crave variety, the community is home to more than 30 golf courses.) But make no mistake about it; this is no marketing brochure for The Villages.

The two other subjects of the documentary are troubling.  One is an 80-something single man who is essentially a vagrant, living in his van but hanging out at some of The Villages’ 89 pools attempting to find, in his words, “a wealthy woman (he) can live with,” one that, he makes clear, he won’t be ashamed to be seen with. He is a beggar who is choosing.  

But he is given a run for his money in the pathetic category by a couple, married for 47 years, who are demonstrably mismatched in retirement.  She is a pleasant, articulate lady who lives in a constant state of denial about her husband, who has a serious drug problem and probably an even more serious mental issue.  Their relationship is the most disturbing aspect of an overall depressing film, although the fact that our 80-year-old gigolo found a lady to take him in was depressing as well.  Alas, by the end of the film, he is back on the street — after complaining of his “loss of freedom” under his benefactor’s roof.  It wasn’t enough that she was paying for his room and board.  Even a loser has a right to his freedom.

Some Kind of Heaven is an interesting character study, but the best reason for spending 83 minutes with it is to validate your own good choices and the life you have made in retirement.

 Larry Gavrich
Founder & Editor
Home On The Course, LLC

 

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If you are considering a search for a permanent or vacation home in a golf-oriented area, please contact me for a free, no-obligation consultation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.