A while back I wrote a post called Life Lessons Learned at an Old Golf Course in which I talked about my youth growing up on a old, abused golf course called Sunset Hills. That
post is still one of my favorites and you should take a few minutes to read. Anyway, one of the cast of characters was a guy who actually worked for one of our sister courses Paradise Valley Golf Course.
Paradise Valley was a short, 9-hole course located in the north part of Charlotte on what is now a shopping center. It was a fun track and it was right across the street from UNC-Charlotte where I attended college so you can imagine my break between classes involved some golf. And almost every time I went over to Paradise Valley or the range a familiar face was waiting: Robert Earl Maybin, Sr. Or as I always called him…Bob.
Bob was a funny guy and to say he was a character is the understatement of the century. There isn’t a week goes by that I don’t think back on many things Bob would say. At this time I was around 19 or so and Bob would have been in his mid-30s. He was a portly fellow who wore a trimmed beard and smoked a pipe. My memories of him involved him giving me advice or telling me a story while packing that pipe. And the aroma was great. I even remember the type of tobacco he smoked which was Captain Black!
I worked with Bob until I left the golf course in 1998 and Bob would finally leave go back to selling cars. Bob and I kept in touch and actually became golfing buddies. We would play everywhere together. I was a PGA Professional at that time so I could get us on some of the top tracks in North Carolina. We would ride, play, gamble and laugh; mostly me laughing at him. Looking back on his stories, I don’t think Bob was trying to be funny, but I laughed anyway. He was a good friend.
Bob eventually moved to Myrtle Beach which disrupted our golf, but I would still visit him every time I went to Cherry Grove Beach, which was only 30 minutes or so from his house. We would meet at a little southern cooking joint called Magnolia on 26th and catch up. And it was as if we had never missed a beat.
In 2010 I tried to get in touch with Bob via text but I never got a response. I was afraid I knew why he wasn’t responding. About 6 months of texting and I found out from a mutual friend that Bob had passed away. It was tough to think that Bob had died and I wasn’t there at his funeral. I’m not sure why he died, but suspect it was a heart attack.
My memories of Bob are vivid. I wax nostalgic thinking back to those days at Sunset Hills gambling with him, learning about life and losing money. I smile when I hear his voice in my memories and it makes me 20 years old again to envision seeing him unloading his clubs from the trunk of his Firebird as I pull up in a golf cart to meet him.
I miss my friend and always will. RIP Robert Earl Maybin, Sr. You meant more to me than I ever told you and I hope you knew it.