Fred Maksimowski pulled up to his date’s house, threw her clubs out of the car and drove away.
“What happened?” his girlfriend’s mom asked.
“I beat him!” Marie answered.
“You should let him win,” her mother responded.
That wasn’t going to happen. Marie grew up a tomboy, playing golf on the public course behind her house. By age 13, she had joined a ladies’ team and used a 1-iron to drive because she didn’t own any woods.
Fred didn’t begin playing golf until he met Marie in college. Six decades later, he’s gotten over that first loss, holds a 10 handicap at age 80 and admits his wife taught him everything he knows.
Marie has introduced a lot of golfers to the game during her lifetime. She’s currently in her 14th year as a site director for LPGA/USGA Girls Golf. That first summer at Municipal Golf Course in Huntsville, Ala., she expected 15 participants, but was overjoyed when 38 signed up. The putting green and chipping area were near the parking lot, so they had to use tennis balls as to not damage any cars.
The program moved to nearby Richland Golf Center before relocating to Huntsville Country Club. There are 37 kids enrolled this year and 21 of them are returning from 2017.
“Without our program, these girls wouldn’t know the Rules,” said Marie, adding that two of her alums led their high school team on its deepest run in the state tournament.
The mother of three has taught her five grandchildren the game as well.
“I took them to granny camp,” she said.
For Marie, golf has always been a way of life. While Fred was serving in Vietnam, she became a scratch golfer at home in Ohio. When he was taking courses toward a master’s in engineering at New Mexico State University in the 1960s, Marie used his student ID to play golf for a quarter per round.
Since Fred retired from the armed forces as a lieutenant colonel specializing in nuclear missiles, he’s had the opportunity to join his wife on more of her golf adventures. The couple, which have been USGA members for 31 years, have played golf in every state and Canadian province and territory other than Newfoundland and the Northwest Territories.
“It’s been a release,” Marie said. “When Fred was in the military, I’d join every golf league and even played with the general’s wife.”
Jordan Schwartz is the creative and content lead for the USGA Foundation. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.