63: All the Good Things Any Man Should Be

63: All the Good Things Any Man Should Be

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Golf and Sport

All the Good Things Any Man Should Be

I have to tell you honestly that I never believed Squeek wouldn’t be back carrying my bag. Not for one minute. Not until the very end, when he was so sick he couldn’t even open his eyes to say goodbye. It’s selfish, I guess, but that’s what it’s like when you lose a friend.

He was diligent and conscientious and humble and simple and honest and all the good things any man should be.

I remember often I would invite him in to share our success, to set the clubs down for a minute and drink a victory beer in the locker room. “Don’t worry, Squeek, come on in,” I’d tell him when he hesitated. “If there’s a fine, I’ll pay it.”

We shared dinner often, but there were other times I would offer and he would decline politely, saying he had other plans. But I knew he really didn’t. It was just his way of stepping back, never trying to take too much.

On the road, I think he was more content to babysit my kids and order a pizza. He loved to sit and play with them, and I know they loved him, too. They don’t understand why he’s gone now, anymore than I do.

For him, the rewards were more private. It was enough for him to get the flag from the eighteenth hole after a win and tack it up on his wall at home.

Doing the job well, doing it thoroughly, that was paramount for Squeek. In our six years together, I think I questioned a yardage only once. Once. That’s unheard of.

He was no expert on the golf swing, but he learned what to look for in my swing. “Watch that right elbow,” he would say when I was getting frustrated on the practice range.

In tournament play, he always had a knack for knowing the right thing to say, even when that meant saying nothing at all. And he understood the nuances of competition as well as anyone I’d ever met. He would always check the leader boards, and he could see a player struggling long before I would.

“He’s feeling the pressure, Nick,” he’d say as we headed down the last few holes, convincing me that a tournament still could be won.

He’d never let me get negative. At Turnberry in 1994, I had two terrible days of practice, but he never lost confidence in me. When I said, “Aww, I’m not swinging so well,” immediately he pulled me up on it. “How can you expect me to be positive when you start talking like that?” he would demand.

When I asked Squeek at the end of 1990 to come work for me, he said Tom Watson had just asked him the same thing. A few days later, he came to me and said I was his choice. I sometimes wonder how different things might have been for me had that decision gone the other way.

We had one hell of a time together, I know that. I might have won without him, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as often or nearly as fun.

The moment that stands out most for me was winning the Open at Turnberry. Squeek cheered me on through all the doubts of that final round. When I had to hit that last shot to clinch it, Squeek was never more positive, giving me the exact yardage and telling me to split the “D” in the big yellow sign behind the eighteenth green. When I had hit the shot and started up toward the green, the walk of a champion with the great crowd cheering, Squeek lingered behind humbly, typically, not wanting to intrude. I stopped for a moment and looked back at him.

“C’mon, Squeek,” I said. “Let’s enjoy this together. I don’t know when we’ll get the opportunity again.”

If I never win again, I will always have the memory of that walk, shared with a friend.

~Nick Price
Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul

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