By Rachel Barduson
My father was a farmer – not a fisherman - not a golfer. He always said farming didn’t leave much time for anything but farming. I could accept that reasoning because he didn’t leave us much time for fishing or golfing either – because of farming.
My father and mother’s middle child, my sister Louise, changed the reasoning in regards to making time for fishing and golfing. I didn’t catch on to that reasoning when the reasoning began... and now, I think I’m just trying to catch up. But let’s back up for a few minutes.
I believe it was because my famous (or infamous) sister was given God-like athletic abilities and talents, that she took it upon herself to influence all people, including her younger sisters Marcia and I, into at least trying to become average at all recreational interests (especially golfing and any water-related activities, including fishing). It was in her young adult years, and our teenage years, that the lessons began.
Farming and chores were still in Marcia’s and my life, but not for our newly married sister, who had begun a teaching job in the cities. Summers were different for adult children coming back home for a visit. They weren’t expected to help with the farming chores anymore because they had set up their own households in their married life. With that said, Marcia and I DID work for lake and recreational privileges. It was a big deal to spend time with our now-adult sister Louise.
Let’s start with golfing. It was a fine summer morning, that very first time in my life that I was about to become a golfer. First of all, Marcia and I had a very difficult time grasping the concept of a 7:15 a.m. tee-time. After our first outing, we pondered the reality and decided we didn’t really want to become golfers that bad. Yet, our older and much wiser sisters, both Louise and Joanne, firmly determined the early morning tee-time on this particular day. And so, on this fine summer morning, the four of us set out for Tipsinah Mounds Golf Course when Tispsinah was still just becoming a golf course. I remember a lot of sand and – well, a lot of laughing.
The lessons began. Joanne did not have much patience in the teaching moments, while Louise had her physical education “whistle” around her neck (figuratively speaking of course), critiquing every stroke. Yes, “Coach Lang” was alive and well on that (long) summer morning. The lesson that sticks out the most was that you didn’t have to put your ball on the tee before every single stroke. That wasn’t made clear to Marcia until the third hole. If you can imagine the kind of laugh that starts in the gut of your gut and gushes out for minutes on end...the kind where we are laughing so hard we can’t even breathe – THAT kind of laughing. Well, that was the four of us laughing out loud on the third hole. And the laughing continued throughout the entire day.
By the time we reached the fifth hole, Marcia and I began “cheating” by throwing our ball toward the green (when Coach Lang wasn’t looking). Luckily for us, it seemed that Tipsinah was still a well-kept secret and there were no other golfers (or greens for that matter, in my estimation anyway) to be seen for miles - so no one saw our inappropriate “strokes” (and we weren’t keeping score anyway). Even with that said, we decided our short game was our best game. By the time we reached the seventh hole, Marcia and I were pretty much convinced that golf was not our sport (on that particular day anyway) and getting up at 6 a.m. for a 7 a.m. tee time would not be in the cards for us anytime in the near future. Joanne agreed with our assessment. Louise would never give up hope on us. As my father said, quoting Mark Twain, “Golf is a good walk spoiled...”
Speaking of my father, Louise said she took him to Pebble Beach Golf Course in Fergus Falls one time and he was a natural. She was surprised at how easy he made it look. He only golfed a few times in his life I guess, but Coach Lang said he stepped up to the tee box and had a beautiful swing.
I have always tried to golf at least once or twice every summer, but I have never become an avid player of the game. When it came time for an annual reunion of siblings in the year 1999, I was placed on the team of my “very serious golfer” brother, along with Lindsey, Marcia’s daughter, and Josh, Louise’s son. Yes, we had a full advantage on our team with my nephew Josh, now a golf pro. Of course our team won, but not with any help from Lindsey and I. What I remember most about that particular day was my brother’s very intense playing of the game and reminding me of golf etiquette at my every move, while Lindsey and I struggled to keep from laughing at ourselves at every single turn and on every single stroke we had...just like her mom and I had experienced back on our very first-ever day of golf.
Fishing has come a little easier. Honestly, I only fished with my dad once. I made my fishing pole with a stick found in the woods, and a safety pin dangling on an old piece of twine. We didn’t fish from a boat, and we dug for worms before we went to Maurice’s lake. It was a short-lived experience because the patience of a little girl standing on the lakeshore was not very long.
Again, insert my sister, Coach Lang, into the teaching curve. We were out on Pelican Lake -- Louise and Andy, Marcia and I. We had earned our day on the lake after picking rocks for a week. Back in the day we used Rudy’s pasture to launch the boat, and to set up our “day camp.” This was the day that it would be “about fishing” although water skiing was of more interest, and honestly, sunbathing for us all. Louise, soaked with baby oil and iodine, sat up on the bow of the speed boat, placed her hook and line in the water, and her pole down beside her. Marcia and I followed suit. We began lounging in the sun while sitting on the bow of the boat.
As you can imagine, Louise soon had a bite. The fishing line and pole were pulled over the bow and into the lake. Luckily we were in a shallow, reed-filled area of the lake. We all got excited as Louise dove into the lake to retrieve her pole. Once she and her fishing pole and line were back in the boat, Andy reminded her that “you need to pay attention...” (I am now reminded of this same lesson every time I go fishing with my husband, although I usually take a book to read with me, and sometimes I regretfully forget.) Back on Pelican Lake that day however, it was not long before we changed course and started water skiing instead.
The only other lesson I ever got from my sister in regards to fishing poles, lines, hooks and bait, came a few years after her pole went into Pelican Lake. Her fish story went something like this: It was a typical morning, rushing to get the boys off to school. After brushing her teeth, she realized that she had run out of dental floss. When she saw her fishing pole next to the front door, she realized her problem had been solved. There was plenty of slack on the line so she began to floss her teeth as she rested the fishing pole over her shoulder. Timing is everything, and of course the doorbell rang. There at the door stood the mailman. She said she wondered what the mailman’s problem was when he had a look of bewilderment when he saw her, fishing line between her teeth with the pole over her shoulder. “I mean, who hasn’t seen something like this before? I mean, really!” God bless America.
The fishing lines and golf tips I received from my sister are lessons I hold dear of course, because of the stories that go with them. They began early, have constantly continued...and, whether short or in detail, will never cease. They are my fishing lines and golfing tips.