• John M. Campbell

The Day I Played Golf with Ron Bero

Ron Bero was a fellow engineer whom I learned was a serious golfer. My grandfather was a club pro in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he taught me the fundamentals of golf. I developed a serviceable game, but I never had the talent to be really good. However, I could appreciate true talent, which I discovered Ron had when I played a round with him. I also discovered another aspect to his golf game that came as a surprise. I wrote this poem as he retired from work for health reasons.


The Day I Played Golf with Ron Bero


Ron Bero is a quiet man: his voice is far from booming.

One might say his manner is described as unassuming.


He has a reputation as a real golfing fanatic,

The kind that has the latest clubs, and four sets in the attic.


On snowy days in Denver, he’s been known to take the day

And travel to Pueblo just to find a course to play.


He heard that I enjoyed a round, invited me to play.

When I agreed I thought I’d have a nice relaxing day.


I figured he enjoyed the game like any common duffer:

For every day he’s good were nine days he would suffer.


But little did I know there lived behind that passive face

A medieval warrior whose five iron was his mace.


We met up at the golf course as the sun began to dawn.

I stumbled to the practice green while stifling a yawn.


The crisp October morning sent the chill right through my jeans.

The starter would not start us yet, ’cause frost was on the greens.


The first hole was a short par five, a dogleg slightly right,

Well bunkered in the landing zone—intimidating sight.


The starter gave the word and Ron, he stepped up on the double

To smack the ball two eighty-five and well beyond the trouble.


He grabbed his tee and stepped aside and left it up to me

To show him if I had the nerve to keep his company.


The first drive is the hardest one with all the golfers waiting.

You hit the ball as best you can with your heart palpitating.


I took a swing and watched the ball as close as I could muster.

It found the fairway short of Ron’s, not great but will some luster.


I turned when I was finished just to find him taking out

A smoke the size of Texas—really what was that about?


He clenched the stogie in his teeth and puffed to draw the flame.

His smoky squint now showed me he was ready for the game.


I cozied up my second shot not too far from the green.

He checked his yardage, then he took his trusty two ireen.


He hit his shot both high and true and then began to stroll.

It took a hop and settled down not ten feet from the hole.


Next, I’m not sure if what he did with that cigar was legal:

He used it like some strange gunsight and stroked it in for eagle!


He must have gone through four cigars before the day was through,

And though he scored then mostly pars, he had some bogeys, too.


And as we played, I came to see a student of the game,

Exhibiting the skills and joy that most will not attain.


From on the tee, he loved to use brute power, not finesse,

But on the putting green his touch was soft as a caress.


When we were done, I shook his hand, and as I drove away

Cigar smoke lingered in my clothes, my keepsake from the day.


I know that we will all miss Ron, but here’s who’ll miss him more:

The links of Colorado and his favorite cigar store.


Best wishes and good luck.


John M. Campbell

11 August 1998


Next Poem: I am Curious, George

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