Before I get back to crusading on income inequality, I wanted to take a brief foray into a couple of personal topics that happen to be on my mind. To those readers who are of a more serious nature and wish that I would stick to the subject of income inequality until I have finished talking about it, please excuse the detour.  I will get back to being serious very soon.


Topic 1 – My favorite sport


Today I want to say a word or two about my favorite spectator sport — women’s golf. Some 13 years ago when we moved to Rhode Island from New York, I learned that the Women’s U.S. Open would be played in Newport in 2006. So, enthused by the opportunity to do something fun in my new home state, I ordered tickets. I also began, very intentionally, to follow the LPGA tour so that I would know all the players when they came to Newport. By the time 2006 rolled around, I was hooked on the game — the women’s game that is. I don’t follow men’s golf and don’t play golf anymore. But I am greatly entertained by the LPGA tour and am so thankful that I “discovered” it.


Now, I must tell you that part of what I love about women’s golf is that no one I know cares a damn about it. Men generally seem to dismiss it as a poor imitation of the real game — the one men play. This, of course, makes me love it more. While the men are ridiculously compensated with $1,000,000 plus to the winner week after week, the women play for about one-fifth that amount. I find this discrepancy scandalous and emblematic of our macho culture. So one of the windmills at which I would tilt is the one that says men golfers are worth five times more than women.


Last week I journeyed, all by myself since no one wanted go with me, to Evian les Bains, France, for the final major tournament of the LPGA season. For four wonderful days I walked the fairways with all my favorite golfers and even ran into pretty many of them in the Hilton where I stayed. Unfortunately I am congenitally unable to start a conversation with someone I don’t know; so I didn’t actually chat with them except for a few words with the Henderson sisters (Brooke and Brittany — player and caddy, respectively) who I ran into several times and said a meek hello. The announcers who I listen to all year long (Judy Rankin, Tom Abbot, and Terry Gannon) sat right beside me at the bar but I just couldn’t screw up the courage to say anything to them. Still, I simply enjoyed the proximity.


LPGA players are almost uniformly pleasant, smiling, and approachable. They come from all over the world and they play all over the world, so it is truly an international game. My favorite players come from Korea, the U.S., England, Australia, Thailand, and Iceland; but I truly can’t bring myself to pull against any tour member. There must be a spoiled brat out there somewhere but they are hiding it well.


While I hope this brief missive will pique your interest in becoming an LPGA fan, I realize that most of you will not be tempted. That will be your loss. You simply don’t know what you’ll be missing. Next stop on the tour is the inaugural New Zealand Women’s Open beginning on September 28th. I can’t wait.


Topic 2: My long cab ride


For reasons with which I will not bore you, I was forced to take a three -hour taxi ride from Evian les Bains to the Zurich airport in order to make my flight to Boston the Monday after the tournament. My cab driver was a voluble French lady who insisted on looking me in the eye while she talked. This is, I realize, a sign of good breeding, but in this case was cause for much anxiety on my part since I was in the back seat and she in the front. She often had no hands on the steering wheel since she needed both her hands to gesticulate. And, of course, she would be turned in her seat so she could look me in the eye in the back seat. And all this was happening at 80 miles per hour!


Of all the things she told me in that three-hour drive, one is worth passing along. As we discussed the difficulties of making ends meet as a working person, I mentioned to her that in our country healthcare was a great expense and problem for millions. And she replied that, fortunately, in France their system worked well and was not a source of concern. My friends, she was talking about socialized medicine! Of course I could have had the same conversation with a cabby in almost any European country. Yet, here in what we regularly are told is the greatest country in the history of the world, socialized medicine is almost a curse word for many of our not-so-worldly politicians.


When I got home, I was lucky enough to hear Sen. Lindsey Graham of S.C. talking about his plan to repeal Obamacare. He said that failure to pass his bill would put the nation on the road to Socialism! I am sure my readers will see this as the absurdity that it is. This country, for better or worse, is about as likely to become socialist as I am to become a prize fighter. Unlike my cab driver, Sen. Graham knows nothing about socialized medicine except that he hates it passionately because it comes from the same root word as Socialism.  I am sure his base in S.C. agrees with him and would dismiss any comments from a French cabbie as communist propaganda.


Finally, a word about Senator Graham. My mother, a staunch liberal if ever there was one, loses her mind about once a year and tries to tell me that Lindsey Graham is “not so bad.” She does this for two reasons. First, she tries to take up for S.C. when she can, though this laudable desire can cloud her judgment occasionally. Second, she falls into the trap of feeling warmly about Sen. Graham on the rare occasions when he actually takes the correct stand on an issue. Many people make this mistake.  I am very quick to remind her on those occasions that Graham is a right-wing Republican —  period. This usually brings her out of her temporary insanity.


I promise to get back to business with my next post.

Stay Connected!

Get my latest blog posts straight to your inbox!

About Buck Close

Deacon Buck Close serves on the staff of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Newport, RI. He was born in South Carolina, graduated from Tulane University in 1972 with a BA in Economics and Latin American Studies.

Learn More