Author Luke Reese shares an excerpt from his golf memoir
“It’s not often that you see a father turn to his daughter for help and advice, but when Luke Reese needed an editor for his new book, ‘One for the Memory Banks,’ that’s exactly what he did. Against the advice of others in the industry, he hired 26 year old Maddie to be his editor, and together they published a beautiful story about golf, love, and the meaning of friendship. Below is Maddie’s introduction to the book, as well as a short excerpt.
Several golf writers have said ‘One for the Memory Banks,’ a book about friendship on golf courses in the UK, has made their all-time, top-10 list, and is the next ‘Tuesdays with Morrie.’ This book is also one of my all-time favorites, but for different reasons. For me, this book was a gift. It was a chance to work with my dad, to spend thousands of hours on FaceTime trying to get the chapters just right, laughing the whole way, and crying when we finally did. It was about learning from my dad’s stories, of when he was in his early 30’s (with me in tow in my diapers) figuring out life, saying yes to opportunities, and finding an incredible mentor in Allan “Bondy” Bond who taught him (and me) so much about golf, but more importantly about life and showing up for your loved ones. With his searing wit, and with so much heart, Bondy would say, “Build the memory banks…there are no mulligans…” or as non-golfers would say, there are no do-overs. Make the most of the time you have, and cherish loved ones and connection with everything you’ve got. I am honored and humbled to share this part of my family with you. This book has left an indelible mark on me, and I hope it touches you too this holiday season.“
— Maddie Reese
Chapter I (excerpt)
Rub of the Green
Number fifteen played downwind that day, crossing back to the linksland near the sea. We had both made a lot of pars and a few bogeys—much better than I normally played. Single-digit Bondy had been there a million times, but I was light years out of my comfort zone. I could feel the pressure. We were in a tight match. Bondy hit his drive down the middle. Throat dry, my head spun. I might actually beat him. My swing shortened dramatically on the tee shot. Through a wry grin, a Scottish voice mumbled, “A wee bit quick on that one, young Mr. Reese. Not your finest.” Into the right rough it flew. It might be in deep. Won’t know till I get up there. Please, don’t be lost.
Please…don’t be lost…
Imagine a 50-something-year-old Scotsman. Perhaps you see a kilt-wearing Sean Connery standing on the ramparts of his battle-worn castle overlooking the barren highlands. Or James Bond bedecked in a tuxedo at a casino, daringly out-thinking his foes and romancing all women who cross his path. Those are the myths.
Reality offered a different Bond. Allan Bond, age 52. Called Bondy by all who knew him. My fierce and witty opponent. This large-boned man projected height and strength, with silvery hair worn slightly over the ears. His dress was always appropriate, but never dashing. There was little risk of hearing your wife mutter under her breath, “I wish you’d dress more like Allan Bond.”
Determined, his eyes could fix a menacing look but frequently with a twinkle. What he said, he meant. I was glad that we met in 1994, rather than as opposing warriors during an Outlander or Braveheart time warp. He and I fought on more modern battlefields—those with eighteen holes. Though I was his boss at work, Bondy always seemed to get the better of me on the golf course…a fact he never let me forget.
Though Scottish clan life had abated over the centuries, respect for authority had been firmly ingrained in Bondy, but he couldn’t resist flashing a knowing grin. Growing up on the west coast of Scotland in the ’50s, he caddied for high-handicap, upper-class gentlemen, who were quick to dress down a young wispy lad for causing their wayward putts. In his words, “I’ll tell ya this…I knew who the boss was…held the flag stick and kept my mouth shut. Didn’t get paid much. Didn’t get fired. Learnt a lot about life caddying for bad golfers.”
He idolized his grandfather who captained a munitions ship in World War II, avoiding mines and U-boats. Allan was a serious pupil in the excellent Scottish school system whose studies included French and Latin. His love of geography whetted his appetite to see the world. Further, he wanted to emulate his grandfather and have his own ship to command. At age fifteen, over the objections of his parents, he joined the Merchant Navy. After nearly five exciting and rewarding years at sea, he failed his eye exam. Sadly, the now worldly Bondy had to immediately come home. Dreams dashed. Needed to find a job.
In 1962, while Arnold Palmer wonThe Open at Royal Troon, Sam Snead cut a ceremonial ribbon opening the Wilson Sporting Goods golf club factory a few miles down the road in Bondy’s hometown of Irvine. Dark and spartan, the Wilson factory building could have been confused for a local penitentiary. But, as Bondy said, “A new factory making golf clubs was better than working at a paper mill.” Fittingly, Bondy walked in and asked for work. As he would joke, “Somebody must have had too much to drink the night before and not shown up. They begrudgingly let me repair golf clubs. No idea what that meant…but they said they were going to pay me. Showed up the next day…ne’er left.”
Hardworking and whip-smart, Bondy did not intend to repair clubs in the back of the factory for long. His bosses noticed him, and he was given a sales rep job. Multiple promotions later, he became Wilson’s beloved UK sales manager. “Would have gotten fired repairing clubs,” he would laugh. “Couldn’t get the heads on straight. Probably a few golfers hook or slice because of me.”
Wilson hired me at age 33 in the early fall of 1994, as the export manager in charge of some small markets that sold both tennis and golf. That is when I met veteran UK sales manager, Bondy.
At the end of a day of meetings at our offices in Germany, Bondy put his bear paw on my shoulder. “Young lad, I’ve watched you in meetings all day. You could sell life insurance to dead people…and you know yer tennis…but learn golf. Big growth there.” Great advice. Doubt he knew my name. He went back to the UK, and I stayed in Germany none the wiser.
As a solid, former college tennis player, I understood tennis. In contrast, golf was a blank slate. I followed Bondy’s direct advice and decided to learn. I had hit millions of tennis balls…
What could be hard about golf? A stick. A ball. Not even moving.
After a quick lesson from a low handicapper, I worked on a short takeaway and follow-through. At work, my office was near the Wilson warehouse on the ground floor. I loved being near the action (and the wide hallways). Before and after work hours, I would hit Wiffle golf balls in the hallway to develop my swing. I left a lot of marks on the industrial carpet, and the balls sometimes even made it 50 feet to the warehouse door.
With a few months of practice under my belt, I thought it time to ask Bondy to critique my swing. His answer came in a Scottish brogue with enormous authority, intended for all within earshot: “As a golfer, you’d make a fine salesman.”
I provided all the fuel he needed to stoke his fire when I asked, “What would you fix?” Several others heard me and leaned in. In the tradition of Winston Churchill, he was at his best in front of a crowd, and to Bondy’s delight, he now had an audience: “I’m certainly not a golf instructor myself…but follow my simple rule when standing in front of a golf account…
He brought the small crowd in further. By now, every one had put down their coffee cups and leaned in.
“.And I mean never… touch a club as if you are going to swing it. Don’t waggle—don’t address the ball. Hold the club close to the head and hand it to the pro. You tell them why the club is so good and how much it costs. Then you can hold a pen and paper and write orders.”
Delighted chuckles from the crowd.
Though the brunt of the joke, I immediately sensed what all the others knew about Bondy. He was the center of a great party. The next week a package arrived at my office in Munich postmarked from London. It was from Bondy. He had sent me a copy of Donald Steel’s Classic Golf Links with a note: “Mr. Reese, work on your swing. We’ll play some of these places. Start at page 30. This is real golf. Bondy.” We immediately became friends, despite our 17-year age difference.
Chapter II (excerpt)
Back to the Beginning
Bondy taught me how to play golf. His way. Fast. Competitive. All-consuming. Respectful of the rules and each other. For the last 25 years, almost every time I’ve stepped on the tee box, I’ve imagined him saying, “Here’s one for the memory banks. Play well, but not too well.” No one could make me feel as alive as Bondy when we teed it up.
I took a rather circuitous route to becoming Bondy’s primary golf opponent.
I was born in 1960 in Newark, Ohio. My town was a bit larger than Bondy’s but with a similar mix of industry and farming. His town had great golf courses. Mine didn’t. I was the fourth of five kids with an incredibly hard-working mother and father. My older brother looked like Clark Gable and was one of the most athletically gifted kids in town. My little sister was a national class swimmer. I had large crooked teeth and glasses. I spent a lot of time reading the encyclopedia. I got good grades.
After my freshman year of college in 1980, I took a few years off. Many college students head off to find themselves. I found myself at the local army recruiting station. Iran was holding American hostages in our embassy in Tehran. While my fraternity brothers returned to campus, I marched up and down the muggy streets of Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I loved almost every aspect of Fort Jackson…except the snakes. Soon after basic training, I was sent to Germany to the First Infantry Division (The Big Red One). The army got a great soldier. But I got, by far, the better part of the bargain. I matured. I served my country. I lived and worked with people from all segments of society, many of whom would never have the chances in life I had taken for granted as a freshman in college. My enlistment ended too quickly.
When it was over I went back to college then law school. Got Latin and Greek words with my degrees. School was pretty easy after the army.
After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School in 1988, I joined the multinational law firm Latham & Watkins. I could handle hard work. After my time in the army, I could certainly deal with being yelled at. I would be fine as a highly compensated, but miserable, corner-office lawyer someday.
That’s what I told myself, but an epiphany occurred in the closing room on a mega deal that was all over the press. This room was the epicenter of 1980s dealmaking.
One of the firm’s partners gleefully exclaimed, “Isn’t this deal unbelievable? It doesn’t get any better. What a rush. Where else would you want to be?” Despite the huge, dark bags under his eyes, his intensity spoke volumes.
His words conjured images in my mind: thirsty laborers being whipped as they dragged rocks across the desert to build the pyramids. Everybody loved the final result—except the laborers. Self-preservation willed my mouth to utter, “Yeah, that was great.” My nose grew as I spoke. With an Edvard Munch scream going off in my mind, I thought, “Are you f—ing kid ding me? I’d rather be sitting in a dentist’s chair.” I was in the wrong job.
I should have known this would happen when my father wanted me to work at his law firm the summer before law school. Instead, I chose to be a bricklayer’s assistant and sold tee shirts out of the trunk of my car.
Most people hated being in the army. I relished it. But as a lawyer, I was an interloper, spending vast amounts of time doing something I hated. Living out someone else’s dreams for me. I needed to find a career that gave me as much of a thrill as this deal did for the law partner. To quote Bondy, “Build the memory banks…there are no mulligans.” Don’t waste the short years you’ve got.
So how do you tell your lawyer father that after three years of law school tuition you are taking a 70% pay cut to sell bicycle handlebars?
To read more from ‘One for the Memory Banks,’ you can purchase it here.