As I travel the world, it never ceases to amaze me how strange and intriguing life can be; one never knows what’s just around the next corner. I’m often dumbfounded by some of the things I run into. For example:
The other day I ran into one of life’s optimists. His name is Paul Buckley and he lives in New Orleans. He’s not a particularly religious sort, at least I don’t think he is – it just never came up – but he does believe in the gods: the gods of golf, that is. And that’s not at all unusual in itself; most of us have whispered a prayer to those mystical beings that control such important considerations as “rub-o-the-green” and a whole lot more. But this guy actually keeps a couple of rather special gods with him ALL of the time. They are called Ti Ming and Tem Po. Yep, you got it: timing and tempo, the two most important ingredients of the perfect golf swing. So, what the heck am I talking about? Let me tell you a story, Paul’s story.
It seems, long, long ago, when Paul was just out of college and beginning to make his way in the world, he lost one of the most important influences in his life: his grandfather, a shadowy figure Paul loved but, so it seems, barely knew. Anyway, Paul was named executor of his grandfather’s will. This involved going to the old man’s home and sorting through the clutter of almost 100 years, including a dark and dusty attic.
Now, it seems the old man was something of a golfer in his younger days. In fact, faded newspaper articles Paul found piled in the attic named him one of the strongest amateur golfers in New England. But there was more to come: stuffed away, back among the rafters, was an old leather golf bag. Its once supple sides long-since stiffened and cracked, the hickory shafts blackened with age, and the heads of the irons covered in a fine coat of rust. Inside one of the pockets, however, was a small, leather-bound notebook filled with notes and scribblings. These, so it seems, were the innermost thoughts of a golfer that trod the fairways of long ago. There were notes on important rounds, tournaments he’d played, and the usual ups and downs golfers of all eras seem to experience. But as Paul read, he noticed that two strange words were repeated over and over: Ti Ming and Tem Po.
Paul realized that his grandfather was actually talking about timing and tempo and, at first, could not figure out why the words had been misspelled. Not only that, they were underlined, and often circled, and almost always part of a cryptic remark, such as: Ti Ming and Tem Po deserted me today, or Ti Ming and Tem Po were with me today. Then he came to an entry that went something like this: The golf gods were not with me today.” And then he got it. Ti Ming and Tem Po were his grandfather’s “gods of golf.”
Paul smiled, replaced the little book in its pocket, and continued his search of the old golf bag. In another pocket he found two small, hand-carved figures. They were made from Spanish cedar wood and tied together with a thin strip of leather. They looked like two small Buddhist monks: one robed to the floor, the other rather portly and sporting a bare belly. Each held a golf club. Each was inscribed on the base. One was Ti Ming, the other was Tem Po.
Paul looked at these two tiny figures in amazement, realizing that he was holding in his hands the two most important gods of golf. True story? I’ll let you figure it out.
As I said earlier, we have all prayed to the gods of golf at one time or another, whether it’s when standing on the first tee or over and important putt, at least I have, and still do. PGA tour pro, David Toms said of this inscrutable pair, “I’ve known and heard about the Golf Gods since I was 12 years old. And now, finally, someone has brought them to life.”
Today, Paul has turned those two tiny figures into something of a cottage industry: Puttential Unlimited. There are bracelets, worry irons, rings, trophies and more. You can find out more by going to Paul’s Website. Update: Mark Button has written a children's book about Ti Ming and Tempo. Read my review here.