Cold winter weather greeted our first Wisconsin Turfgrass Association meeting of the new year. It seems odd to meet at a time when there is no green grass in the landscape.

For the sake of newly elected members, the president asked each of us at the table to introduce ourselves and note a favorite turfgrass maintenance tool. A sod producer spoke of his GPS mowing and sod cutting controls, a couple of superintendents mentioned the Spectrum TDR 200 moisture meter, another announced his love of the Toro 648 aerifier and the Lynx Control System got two votes.

Believing in the modified “there’s no tool like an old tool,” I cast my vote for the Par Aide cup cutter. From my first day until 50 years later, it has the same design and remains a very important tool on a golf course. The task has always been important and this low technology tool did (and still does) an excellent job.

I learned how to cut cups for an old gentleman of 75-plus years who had spent his life working at the course, and those days he was maintaining flower beds, clubhouse landscaping and occasional duty cutting cups. He recalled hauling manure from the fairgrounds to either compost or spread on fairways and roughs. He planted many of the trees on the golf course as small saplings harvested from the surrounding wooded undeveloped areas. As we would visit about the course history – recent history for him – he would often muse, “how time flies.” He was right – between the two of us, now that I am 70, a century of golf in our town was covered.

In 1952, my mother turned 30, and I recall her grousing to a neighbor – Mrs. O’Neil – about growing old. It was her 30th birthday. I was six at the time, but still a little worried my mother was concerned about age. I asked her when I would be 30, and she thought a second and replied, “in 1976.” Well, that year has come and gone so quickly it is hard to believe. Time flies.

When you are on the 14th fairway of life, perpetual optimism is an important ingredient to happy days.”

A superintendent colleague of mine is getting ready to retire. He and his wife are each 62, and as they did their planning they realized each of their mothers was widowed at that age. Surely, those two mothers fully realized that time flies. That notion cemented my friend and his wife’s decision to move on to life’s next station.

I guess we all realize, at some time, how precious the present is to us. So it was in biblical times and so it will be centuries from now. The present may seem to move painfully slow at times, especially when we are under enormous stress at the golf course, but suddenly it will be past history. I am always finding myself looking back and meditating on the events and people and the years of my past. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, trust me – it will. And much of what you will contemplate will somehow involve golf.

The fact time flies for most of us can influence attitude. When you are on the 14th fairway of life, perpetual optimism is an important ingredient to happy days. And continuing to contribute to the fabric of the society we live in takes on added influence. I can think of few in golf who have handled the passage of time better than Arnold Palmer. He won the Masters four times, played in 50 events at Augusta and has been a fixture all the times I have been lucky enough to attend. In one of his last competitive rounds, somewhere on the back nine during Friday’s round, he came over to the ropes where three of us were standing. We were the only spectators following him, and he came up to shake hands and say hello. “I’ve got to get it going, boys!” he said to us. We could have gone home right then we were so happy. Arnie ended his competitive playing in the Masters in 2004.

From there it was the ceremonial first tee shot and the par-3 contest. But last year he stopped playing in the par-3. And this year he resigned from hitting the ceremonial first tee shot. He is still attending the Champions Dinner and will be present on the first tee when Jack and Gary hit their ceremonial shots. Here is what Arnold said: “I would love to go on doing it forever, but I don’t have the physical capability to hit the shot the way I would want to hit it.”

He is recognizing that time flies. Instead of being depressed, he moves on to other activities he can handle.

So, go ahead. Take a peek at the rear view mirror. Just don’t live in the past. Use that view to see if you missed any turns you want to make when you have the time. But don’t dither; remember, time flies.

Monroe Miller retired after 36 years as superintendent at Blackhawk CC in Madison, Wis. He is a recipient of the 2004 USGA Green Section Award, the 2009 GCSAA Col. John Morley DSA Award, and is the only superintendent in the Wisconsin Golf Hall of Fame. Reach him at