Assisting Mitch

An old-timer's life lesson in a time of need

By the 11th hole at the University Club of Kentucky, on an abnormally hot, humid fall morning, our friend—we’ll call him “Mitch”—was convinced that he was having a heart attack. 

Sweat had been pouring off him since his warmup at the range, but no one had thought anything of it given the weather. Yet as Mitch would later admit from his hospital bed, there were other warning signs. 

His chest felt tight. He shrugged it off as a pulled muscle from over-swinging. His head pounded. This, too, he explained away: Mitch had been at the Keeneland Fall Meet horse races the day prior, boozing and ripping cigs; surely this was just another garden-variety hangover. But once he started struggling to catch his breath and felt his heart’s erratic pounding, he couldn’t ignore the alarm bells anymore.

Mitch choked down some aspirin fished out of a golf bag. Everyone piled into the carts and hauled ass for the clubhouse while someone placed a frantic 911 call. They parked near the pro shop, and someone ran inside to find help and water. Mitch slumped in his cart, doubled over in pain and gasping for breath. As the group sat there, they heard a shaky voice ask, “Everything all right, boys?”

Overlooked in all the commotion, an old man sat in another golf cart just a few yards away. He had to be in his late 70s or early 80s—a good 30 or 40 years older than Mitch. His skin was tanned and leathery, his body crooked and frail. A stiff breeze would have bowled him over. A fat cigar smoldered in one hand while a Styrofoam cup filled the other. His stoic face peered out at Mitch from underneath a wide-brimmed straw hat.

“No, sir,” Mitch answered. “It’s not all right. Hell, I think I’m having a heart attack.”

The old man’s face didn’t change. “Well, son,” he said, taking a long drag off his cigar, “we all gotta go sometime.”

Editor’s note: Mitch survived his episode and is much more careful about golf and hangovers.

Hunter Kendrick is an attorney and adjunct law professor living in Washington, D.C. He’s been a Broken Tee Society member since 2019.