If golf is a gentleman's game, meet three of its ambassadors: Ted, Leo and Francis, everyone calls Francis "Bats." At 88, he's the oldest of the threesome.
"I'm a little batty," he joked.
In truth, the child of the depression was the only kid in his Rutland neighborhood to have a bat. The name has stuck like pine tar to a glove. Golf, though, is his real love.
"Well, golf has been good to me," Bats said.
He's been playing since he was a mere youngster, caddying for 45 cents a round and learning the tricks of the game from the elders of the game.
He's been a member at Proctor Pittsford for over 50 years. Today there's no tournament, no betting, just three guys coming together to play golf.
Bats Carroll: You should be getting your hearing aids.
Leo DiGangi: I got them in already!
Bats: Oh, how they go?
Leo: Oh, they're working fine.
Bats: You got them on?
Leo: I wish you wouldn't talk so loud!
Good natured ribbing from the eighty set.
"It's a frustrating game, isn't it?!" Bats said.
This Super Senior story is both the easiest and hardest story to tell. Confused? Well, you see Francis or Bats is my dad.
For Brian, Steve and me, golf was ever present at the Carroll household in Rutland. We even had a putting green in our backyard.
"Everyone could have one if they wanted to take care of it!" Bats said.
Golf became contagious in the household, even for my mom.
"Well, I figured my three sons were playing golf, so either stay home or join them," Sheila Carroll said. "Actually I'm hitting them better now than I did 10 years ago."
When my father won the Club Championship in 1970 and 1972, the couple of dozen people watching the final hole seemed like thousands. For an 8-year-old it was like he won the Masters.
"The guys that you beat come around and take you," Bat said.
Now, 40 years later, his shots don't have the same distance, but are down the middle.
To this day, I haven't beaten my dad at a round of golf. Coach Carroll knows why.
"Well, you did practice, but you do a couple things wrong," Bats said.
My grip needs work and I rush my swing.
My mother holds no punches about which one of her sons has the best follow through. "Oh no question about it, Steve is. Wow!"
So I won't make the PGA and never was pressured to.
Joe Carroll: Have I disappointed you as a golfer?
Bats Carroll: No!!!
A dad who taught me much about life, not with words, but actions. Happy Father's Day, dad. Now, if I can only slow down on my back swing.
PO Box 4508