So begins "The Legend of Sandy Parr". It is Anthony's destiny to find his Grandfather's Sandy Parr Belt buckle hidden on the Saint Matthews golf course by collecting the ball markers that direct his path. The story takes him on a magical journey from the course to the Land of Sandy Parr. When he finds the buckle, Anthony's life changes. The creators of Sandy Parr: Charlie King and Les LePere hope the owners of the contemporary buckles and hand inlaid ball markers will experience a similar kind of magic.
The Legend of Sandy Parr
A Story By: Laurie M. Greig
Anthony rubbed his Sandy Parr ball marker between his thumb and forefinger for good luck. He grasped his five wood, right hand over left, and positioned himself for his first shot of the day. As head greenskeeper at Saint Matthews, he had the entire golf course to himself at the early dawn hour. It was his favorite time to play the game he loved. This morning he was distracted. He could not stop thinking about the Sandy Parr belt buckle that Grandfather Bill had hidden for him on the golf course. Grandfather had told him that he was not to look for the buckle, but it was so hard! Anthony knew that once he had the buckle, his golf game would be changed forever.
He was agitated by his own thoughts. He ran his fingers through his sandy-brown hair and wiped his hand on his faded yellow corduroy pants. He took a deliberate breath and pulled his three wood from his red and blue plaid golf bag. "OK," he muttered. "No more thoughts of the buckle. No more thoughts of anything but where I am right now."With that, he put his head down, kept his arms straight and after a few practice swings hit the ball with all of his might. The ball sliced into the woods nearby. "Damn," he whispered, putting the club back into his bag. He began walking down the fairway to search for his missing ball. Being in the early light evoked warm memories of working and laughing with Grandfather as they tended the lawns. He had come to live with Grandfather when he was eight years old. Ever since then, Anthony had heard stories of the champleve enamel and silver Sandy Parr buckles. No one knew the origin of the buckles, except for the owners. All Anthony knew was that the buckles were passed from one generation to the next. He knew that once upon a time there were five buckles, owned by Grandfather and four of friends. These old men loved golf. After getting their buckles their golf games improved and their handicaps dropped. Since Anthony was Grandfathers only remaining heir, it was his destiny to find the magical piece of jewelry.
He fingered the ball marker in his pocket. Grandfather had given it to him on his thirteenth birthday. It would help him find his missing ball. He was unsure of where the ball lay but finally found it in a grove of oak trees. Anthony took out his five iron and positioned himself for the shot. Before any shot, he always rubbed his ball marker for luck. "I am letting go of looking for the buckle, but if I can make this," he said to himself, "I will be the best golfer in the world." He often made such deals with himself, the kind of deals that did not always work for him, but that satisfied his superstitious nature.
He pulled the club back into a tight, controlled swing, kept his head down, and whack, hit the ball. He missed. A chunk of earth flew up and landed six feet away. So much for superstition. He picked up the unusually large divot. It was heavy in his hand. Something small and shiny was sticking out of it.
Anthony wiped away the dirt away to find a shiny, rectangular object. He stood in awe. This was Grandfather's Sandy Parr belt buckle. The buckle vibrated in the palm of Anthony's hand. He felt an overwhelming urge to caress it. He looked around to make sure no one was watching and placed the buckle next to his heart. The rapid but steady beat radiated through the silver object into this hand. He looked at the buckle closely and turned it over. In the bottom left corner was Grandfather Bill's symbol, the sign of the owner of the Sandy Parr buckle.
The buckle was framed in hand-molded silver. The picture inside was made of copper outlines surrounding brightly colored enamel and depicted a golf course and green. The colors glistened with the sparkle of emeralds, rubies, and diamonds worn by kings and queens. A crooked and whimsical pole holding a golf flag with a checkerboard green underneath was in the center of the picture. Anthony stroked the enamel plate with his dirt covered thumb. He squinted at the picture. With a warm force that almost swept Anthony off of his feet, the wind began to blow. When it died down, he was walking inside the frame on the most beautiful golf course he had ever seen.
Rhododendrons the size of oak trees leaned towards the heavens. The pistils and stamens in the stunning pink and red flowers dripped with spring perfume. To his surprise, the fronds of tall, erect palm trees swayed in a slight breeze. Succulent cacti were planted among day lilies, lupines, and Indian paint brush. "What kind of a place is this? A golf course where wild mountain flowers, cacti, and palms all grow together?" The greens were finely manicured, each blade of grass hand-crafted with care and attention. He wondered who tended such a place. Anthony wanted to meet that person. Beyond the green, a small castle rose in the distance. It was a gold brick building with silver and white chimneys that danced in the light
Anthony gripped the belt buckle so tightly in his hand that red indentations were beginning to form in his palm. He could not believe the beauty of this place. He walked along a graveled golf-cart path until he reached the threshold of the castle. A tiny bridge led to the entrance across a small water-filled canal. A purple and yellow sign with bold cursive letters: "Sierra by the Bay, The Home of Argentum Aurum" was next to a sturdy mahogany doorway.
"Argentum Aurum?" he questioned aloud. "Who is Argentum Aurum?"
"I am Argentum Aurum," a brown-haired woman responded from a white wrought-iron settee under a sycamore tree. "It is I, the artisan of this place, the maker of the frame into which you have walked. Come and sit with me."
Anthony joined her. She was trim and fit, of medium height with shiny short brown hair. Argentum sat erect like a dancer. He could not stop looking at her hands. They were unlike any hands he had ever seen. He was as mesmerized by her young, strong fingers with their short crisp nails as he had been with the Sandy Parr buckle. Her fingers were those of an artisan who could refine detail into intimate shapes of perfection. "I am Anthony. I have never been to a golf course as beautiful as this. Who are you? Where am I?" "As I told you, I am Argentum. I have been waiting for you ever since your Grandfather Bill passed on. This is the land of Sandy Parr." Argentum smiled. Anthony drew in a breath. He clutched the buckle even tighter and with his free hand took his Sandy Parr ball marker out of his pocket and gave it a quick rub. He felt like pinching himself, but by then Argentum was speaking again.
"We work together in harmony to create Sandy Parr buckles for a chosen few. Charles and Leslie are the master artists. Gabriel runs the foundry. It is I, Argentum, who do the carvings for the metal frames. Our friend, Don, helps us distribute the crafted belt buckles into your world."
"Yes, but, who, who is Sandy Parr? Grandfather never told me."
"Sandy Parr is not a who, Anthony. Sandy Parr is an is. Sandy Parr is an amalgamation of years of experience since the beginning of time when the first round of golf was ever played. Sandy Parr is an alchemist, golfer, metal smith, artist. Sandy Parr is the place all humans have deep inside. This is the land where all of the points of magic derived in a game of golf come to rest. Sandy Parr can live in all of us. Sandy Parr is a way of being. Now that you have found your Grandfather's buckle this place will become more alive inside of you Anthony. What do you feel when you look at the buckle?"
Anthony gazed at the buckle in response to her question.
"I feel something different deep inside of me."
He had not realized how confident, strong, and focused he felt until he spoke the words.
"I feel as if in playing a game of golf, with every shot I take, there will be a hole-in-one. Even if that is not the case, it won't matter because I will be the best golfer I can possibly be. Somehow, what feels important is the art of the game and not the score or my handicap. I have never felt like this."
Argentum smiled and took his right hand. She held it for a moment inside of her long, sleek fingers. Looking into his dark, green eyes she said, "Yes, Anthony, you have been chosen to find one of Sandy Parr's exclusive belt buckles, the likes of which are seldom made. As you know from Grandfather Bill, anyone who wears a Sandy Parr buckle will know the confidence, strength, presence, skill, and enjoyment found in the ancient game of golf. These are the gifts Anthony. Welcome to the world of Sandy Parr, Anthony."
Argentum squeezed his hand three times. He was surprised to find himself back on the first green at St. Matthews. The Sandy Parr belt buckle was still clutched in his hand. He examined the miraculous picture that had been designed for Grandfather Bill. Now it was his. He pinched himself and felt the sting. He knew he was alive.
He went to his golf bag and took out the three wood. Anthony teed up the ball, rubbed his ball marker for luck as he always did, pulled his arms back, and swung. The ball sailed straight down the fairway in a perfect line towards the hole. He held his breath. He swore he could hear the ball drop, kerplunk, right into the center of the hole. Anthony smiled a broad smile and the silver buckle glistened in his hand. Never had he felt so happy. And never had he felt so close to Grandfather. He knew his golf game and his life would never be the same now that he had his Sandy Parr belt buckle. He couldn't wait to play the 18 holes that lay before him. In fact, he wondered if he wouldn't just play 36 this morning! It was after all the best day of his life so far.