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For Ron

Wrote this long blog at 2 AM last night.

It's probably not very good, but I really don't care... I got away from it recently because I am trying to develop other shit, but writing is cathartic for me, and I needed to get something out.  Plus there is a small group of old friends who will appreciate seeing this in print.

If nobody else reads it, so be it, and I turned comments off because I don't care for comments right now.

I'll return to smut, boxing, finance, and weird history stuff tomorrow.

-L


I played golf last week for the first time in almost 2 years. 

That’s not entirely true… I got embarrassed by Canelo Alvarez on a virtual golf course in San Diego last fall.  But, outside of that, I haven’t swung a club since 2020. 

Anyhoo… My triumphant return to the sport occurred at a Member-Guest outing at a very nice track called Ridgewood Country Club, and the foursome I played in was filled with good friends. 

We met in the morning for a couple of drinks, teed off in the afternoon, and then feasted on a clambake that evening. 

I woke up the next day with some serious acid in my throat, so I did what my gastroenterologist told me to do whenever I had esophageal issues.  I wrote down everything I had to eat and drink the day before in hopes that I could pinpoint the culprit that was causing my agitation. 

Here’s what the list looked like… 

  • 2 cups of tea with milk and sugar
  • 2 toasted English muffins with Irish butter
  • 1 Bloody Mary
  • 8 vodka transfusions 
  • 8 light beers
  • 2 cigars
  • 1-2 bottles of Cabernet 
  • 6 jumbo shrimps with cocktail sauce
  • 10 raw oysters 
  • Cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and ketchup
  • Hot dog with mustard and onions 
  • 4 spare ribs
  • 6 baby lamb chops
  • 2 mini lamb gyros
  • 1 Korean flank steak with kimchi
  • 8 pigs in a blanket
  • 2 mini-Jamaican beef patties 
  • 4 coconut shrimp
  • 1 steamed lobster
  • 12 steamed clams
  • 4 boiled potatoes with butter and salt
  • 1 ear of corn with butter and salt 
  • 1 scoop vanilla and 1 scoop chocolate ice cream with whipped cream and sprinkles

Can you spot the acid-inducing culprit?… I’m thinking it was the sprinkles. 

But this blog isn’t about my gluttonous nature nor Ridgewood CC’s role as my obesity enabler.  It’s about a golf story I told during the round. 

Back when I had a little bit of money, I used to play golf a fair amount… Not once a week, but probably twice a month. 

I got to the point where I shot around 90, and that was plenty for me. 

This had to be 2006 or 2007, so I was working on Citigroup’s block desk at the time and one of our dark pool vendors gifted me a foursome to their annual outing.  It was to be held at a nice course in New Jersey… Perhaps Fiddler’s Elbow, or maybe Trumpeter’s Ankle, I really don’t remember.  But it was the kind of place that was perfect for corporate outings: big clubhouse, plenty of locker room space, excellent food, and a course that was moderately challenging for accomplished golfers, but still approachable for those new to the game. 

The foursome included breakfast, golf, a big banquet after, and (arguably most importantly) car service to and from the course for me and my three teammates. 

The first person I asked to play was my direct boss, Mark.  We got along great (still do) and he would be the best golfer of our four. 

The second was another friend of mine who was on the desk. His name was Vinny… He was from Staten Island… And he didn’t know shit about golf but just started to dabble in it. 

And the last person I invited to round out the foursome was a fucking wild man from Citi’s NYSE floor operation.  He was one of my favorite people in the world. His name was Ron Adams. 

The outing was being held on a Monday after a “triple-witch”, which is a Friday session where multiple trading vehicles expire.  As a result of the multiple expirations, volumes skyrocket around the close and many short-term positions are closed out that day. 

Typically, the Monday after a big expiration is pretty slow, and if you couple that with the fact it was a summer Monday and no one was reporting earnings, you got yourself a perfect day to skip work and play golf. 

So we did. 

Mark and I showed up first, had a big breakfast, and then hit the range to warm up. 

Vinny was the third to arrive, passing us on our way to the range wearing a brand-spanking-new golf outfit that you knew he bought from a department store the night before.  There were corny little golf carts stretched across his new belt, and I believe there was a price tag still attached to the collar of his Hampton Bays golf shirt. 

Vincenzo (as I called him) grabbed a quick coffee and then met us down by the driving range. 

As we loaded up our carts and it got closer and closer to the shotgun start, Ronnie’s car service finally showed up and when he exited the car, he looked like he had been hit by a bus. 

He immediately came up and informed me that he couldn’t find his golf shoes that morning, so he brought his softball cleats as a Plan B.  And since Ron’s history with golf before that day consisted of either mini or smaller pitch-and-putt courses, he felt his Plan B was good enough. 

Obviously, it wasn’t, so I ran into the Pro Shop and got him the cheapest pair of Size 13 golf shoes I could find while he loaded his shit onto our cart. 

And by “loaded his shit” I mean when I got back with his shoes, the cart I was about to share with him was filled with useless golf equipment, a small radio, and a bullshit red plastic cooler filled with ice-cold bottles of Bud heavies. 

It was gorgeous.

We drove out to our assigned hole before the shotgun start and the layout was nothing special.  A mid-sized Par 4 with zero personality… Just a straight-away thin fairway that ended at a 1 tier green surrounded by sand. 

Mark took us out with a pin-straight BOMB that left him with a chip and a putt for birdie while Ronnie and I wound up slicing into the trees on the right side and Vinny topped it down the left. 

Ronnie and I headed into the woods while Mark grabbed a couple of wedges and a putter and started to walk down the fairway, leaving Vinny 50 yards past the tee box on the left-hand side with only a golf cart and a dream. 

By the time we all got near the end of the hole, Ronnie, Mark, and I were all safely on the right-hand side of the green while Vinny was in a sunken greenside bunker on the left. 

The sand was well below where the rest of us were standing so we could only see the top of Vin’s head as he prepared to blast out of the trap. And as we saw the head of his wedge come slowly above his head and then slam down towards his ball, all that jumped onto the green was a healthy handful of sand. 

Not a second later, that same wedge came slowly up and down, and another handful of sand was thrown towards the hole. 

We watched that same motion with the same result twice more before walking over to the trap and seeing Vin just demolishing the sand like a drunken Italian at Belmar on Labor Day Weekend. 

The rest of the round got no more professional, but we laughed throughout until our sides hurt. And knowing there were car services waiting to take us home, all four of us were pretty oiled up between those diligent drink cart girls and Ronnie’s adorable-but-totally-unnecessary cooler. 

We showered up after 18 and hit the dinner, and, again, everything was top notch… Particularly for Vin and Ron who had never been to a real outing before. 

Once dinner was over, the person running the outing took to the podium and began announcing the results of the contests and giveaways. 

For those who are unfamiliar, most outings offer at least four opportunities to win something while you play… On a Par 3 within both the front and back 9, there are usually “Closest To The Pin” contests that come complete with a tape measure, stake, and pad & paper to record your distance. 

Then, on two of the Par 5s, there are typical “Longest Drive” contests with a similar stake that gets moved as golfers continue to out-hit one another (while keeping it on the fairway). 

Between the four of us, we didn’t hit many greens or fairways on our drives so there was no reason to pay attention to the results, so as the announcer began, I hit the bar next to our table. 

And sure enough, as soon as I got up to refresh my drink, the announcer said, “Closest to the pin on Hole 5 goes to!………….. Michael McCarthy!” (my real name)

I immediately looked over to Ron who looked like the cat who swallowed the canary and I embarrassingly walked up to the podium to collect my free putter. 

I got back to the table and he said, “That’s to pay you back for the free shoes.”

Immediately afterward the announcer goes, “And longest drive on Hole 8 goes to!….. “ and he called Vinny’s name.  The same Vinny who hadn’t driven the ball more than 150 yards all day. 

“And closest to the pin on 12 is!….”

And Mark went up to get his putter even though he had overshot that green by 15 yards. 

And then finally, we all sat there in disbelief as the MC finally called out, And longest drive on 16 goes to!…. Ron Adams!”

Now, for people who know golf etiquette, there is an honor system when it comes to those contests. But for people who don’t give a fuck about your etiquette, it was simply a way to get some free shit for you and your drunken friends.  And the person who invited me saw what was unfolding, and found it equally hysterical.  So it really was a no harm/no foul situation considering how much more swag was given out by our generous hosts. 

That's it… That's the story.

And although it might not transfer well into a blog, it's a good one to tell while you're in a foursome at a fancy golf outing.

So why did I put it into a blog?

Well, because yesterday I got a call from Ron's son telling me that his dad had died suddenly, and, to be quite frank, it fucked me up.

My old friend Ron Adams… Who is just slightly older than me and has a wife and three kids… Is dead.

.

.

.

I do this thing when I am stuck in traffic… Instead of yelling at the car in front of me or listening to the radio, I go through my contact list and call someone I haven't spoken to in a long time.

Most of the time, the call goes straight to voicemail, but sometimes I get people to pick up and it is always a great experience to just randomly catch up with someone you may not have seen or heard from in a decade but you still consider a close friend.

As luck would have it, I called Ron Adams about a month ago.

Again, for no reason at all… I just had time to kill while waiting to get through the Lincoln Tunnel.

We spoke for maybe ten minutes, and I have no clue what was discussed, but both our voices were different because we were carrying on a conversation while we were both smiling ear-to-ear.  Honest to God, it felt like a mini-reunion.

And right before we hung up, Ron said, "Love you, baby.", which may seem odd to some, but that was just the way he talked.  He wore his heart on his sleeve, and if he was having a great little conversation with an old friend, he had the honesty to end that conversation with the words, "Love you, baby."

I hung up and smiled for the rest of my miserable drive home.

Got home and told the wife I did the random-phone-call-in-traffic-thing again.

She said, "Who'd you call this time?"

And when I told her it was Ronnie Adams, she immediately started to talk in a different voice because she was now talking about Ronnie and his beautiful wife Kathleen while smiling ear-to-ear.

And then there we were… Both just standing in my kitchen talking about Ron's whole family and smiling like a couple of fucking mental patients.

And that's who he was… Loud… Obnoxious… Funny as fuck… Hard-working… Unlike other people in my old industry, he was never handed anything but was also extremely generous with what he had… Unbelievably dedicated to Kathleen and their sons Matthew, Patrick, and Jack… Terrible golfer… Golf outing thief… And a guy who had the ability to make someone smile just by thinking about him.

MAN, I am so fucking glad he picked up the phone that day.  

It certainly doesn't take away the absolute sorrow I feel right now after losing a friend, but at least I have a fresh recollection of just how extraordinary he was, and it makes me SO fucking happy to confidently recall that the last words I said to my old friend Ron Adams were, "Love you, too."

Rest in peace, Ronnie.

-Large