James is a Hole-in-One. Some people live their entire lives without making one, but I did – while my scorecard may not say so, our friendship claims otherwise. I’ve known James since he and I were mere toddlers running around the playground at Milton Academy Daycare. Perhaps it was our incessant energy or resentment of “Nap Time” that brought us close together. Whichever it was, that closeness never withered through time or space. Enhancing our closeness were our Cotuit summers spent playing countless hours of “Cops and Robbers” or “Manhunt,” watching Air Force One for the 17th consecutive time, even our sailing (more like ) swimming lessons, depending which under qualified captain was at the helm that day. But as my family moved away from Milton and we attended our separate schools, our friendship stayed straight and true, much like so many tee-shots I’ve seen him hit.
As time wore on, we grew past a childhood of fighting, make believe crime and having “Tombstone” playing on a never-ending loop. James grew into a mature adult, well, depending on your definition of adult… All kidding aside, he found an unmatched passion in Golf as he grew into a man and began investing his time and focus to lower his handicap. His steadfast devotion could have been plainly observed by anyone who played with him, knew him or had merely witnessed his “Happy Gilmore” distance drives.
His passion for life existed far beyond the greens, fairways and the occasional sand traps of the golf course. To his friends and family – they never came in second place. That is evidenced in front of us with so many people here today that have come together to celebrate the fantastic, albeit it short life of my dear friend and our beloved James McDonough.
It is true, James was an excellent golfer of that there is no question, but I tell you today he was an even better friend. Golfers all have bad days and fluctuating handicaps. Jim and I can attest to that, but no matter what score James posted, he was there to support you in whatever you needed. Between venting about girls, being in need of some life advice, if I couldn’t figure out who sang that new country song, or I needed someone to share a couple of beers with, or even help with a hopeless golf swing – he was always there. But the best example in my life was in April 2006 when my Dad passed away. Before you could say “Double Eagle,” James and I were hugging each other in my basement. Despite it being the middle of a semester riddled with golf and school commitments hundreds of miles away, James never thought twice about being there for his buddy Tucker and his family.
James, my best friend, you left us too soon. I find solace in the fact that I know you’re looking down on us every day. Whether you’re making consecutive birdies at Pebble Beach, playing with Bombay, Keileigh and Cal, flying around the house in your Superman cape, “rescuing” Peggy from Jim’s impromptu dungeon in the basement, or screaming the lyrics to Toby Keith’s greatest hits collection 0 you’re up there.
I want to thank Jim and Peggy for giving James to us, and I want to personally thank you for giving me my best friend. I don’t know why he was taken from us at such an early age or why I have the right to write these words at the young age of 24. But James, I ask you to instill in us the same strength and determination you’ve shown on the golf course and in your short life as we carry on with you in our hearts and prayers. Good bye James – I look forward to the day when I see you again.