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He was shorter and less imposing than he had been, but his eyes were the same and so was his voice. His backroom office in the pro shop of the Crieff Golf Club, where he had stirred coffee with a letter-opener and talked about Hogan, was now the domain of the head professional. I sort of poked around, wondering if the old hickory-shafted iron that Stark taught me with, stamped R. FORGAN, might still be around. I didn't say a word. Stark, as you might expect, read my mind. "Sold all the old clubs, I did," he said. "Man in Texas paid me $10,000 for the whole lot of them, and off they went, all crated up."
"Smart," I said. What are Stark's grandchildren going to do with a bunch of old golf clubs with wooden shafts?
Stark had recently expanded Auchnafree, from six holes to nine, at the request of the Whitaker family, owners of the land, and we drove off to have a look. There were always people throughout Great Britain, such as Alliss, who knew about Stark, the man who embodied Scottish golf. The only thing my book did was widen the net. But I never knew how Stark felt about his write-up, and I certainly didn't ask.
"You came to me looking for the soul of golf," Stark finally said, as we drove along the dirt-and-pebble road. "I did not tell you what I was thinking: Yer too late--the soul of golf is dead!"
Stark paused, in the manner of an actor, or a master teacher. My heart began to race. What would come next? I stared at the windshield. �"But then I saw your wonder at it all and thought, All right, then." Stark looked pleased, or pleased enough.
When the pupil teaches the teacher, it's nothing but dumb luck. We stopped at a swinging wood-and-wire gate. "Go on," Stark said, "you know what to do--unlatch it, let me through and close it back up again. Don't want the sheep escaping."
We made it to the course, laid out by a shepherd, expanded by Stark, maintained by sheep. I got my clubs out of Stark's trunk. (Or should I say "boot"?) Stark used an old fairway wood as a walking stick and he carried some balls--yellow ones and striped ones, ones he could afford to lose--in a small white plastic shopping bag. My old teacher watched me make some swings.
What we saw there, what we talked about there, I feel I should not say.