The first Swede Carlson Memorial Golf Tournament was held on June 1 at the Lynx Golf Course a few miles out East End Road. I was proud to be in attendance and play in the scramble in Swede's honor.
Married for over 30 years, Swede and JoAnn Carlson lived at a beautiful spot down Fritz Creek Valley in a small cabin that Swede built by hand out of logs. They were among the first people that I met when I moved into the area. There were not a large number of residents at Fritz Creek then, and much like many places with a small population, newcomers were scrutinized somewhat. JoAnn and Swede especially looked past outward appearances and made it a point to interact and get to know a recently arrived individual. Not that Swede liked everybody, but he wouldn't dismiss someone before he got to know him. I feel I've learned from that wisdom.
When Shoreline Golf Course -- the predecessor to what is now the Lynx -- opened, it was amazing to see Swede suddenly appear wearing a pair of old sweatpants and sweatshirt, a pair of old Army boots and a set of old short irons. It seemed obvious that Swede was there for the camaraderie of spending a couple of hours on the golf course with some of the locals, as well as the inevitable stop by the Homestead Tavern to tip a couple of Coors beers after the round. Little did we suspect at the time that Swede was actually quite good at the game of golf.
He proceeded to show us wannabes in which direction the hole was -- and he usually did it in fewer strokes than any of us. If my memory serves, Swede was the first champion of the Homer Open, which is the southern Kenai Peninsula equivalent of the U.S. Open. Incidentally, Swede's storytelling and prodigious memories during the post-round Homestead Tavern encounters are legendary. I'm sorry none of them can be related here as an entire volume devoted to only a fraction of them couldn't possibly do them justice.
Swede and JoAnn's life at Fritz Creek harken back to a different time and mindset in this area and also in America at large. I consider myself fortunate to have crossed paths with him. You will find me at next year's Swede Carlson Memorial Golf Tournament and any thereafter as well. Of one thing there can be no doubt, Swede did it his way.
I for one am gonna miss him.