Schuck's Clipboard

Haxel showcases late grandmother's love for life and family

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 15, 2019 1:20 pm Updated: Jul. 15, 2019 6:03 pm

As Blaise Haxel's putt slowly crept toward the cup, a hushed anticipation swept through the gallery behind the 15th green.

When the ball disappeared, dropping to the bottom of the hole for a birdie to give him a fighter's chance, he was wrapped in one of the loudest cheers to echo across Westview Golf Course's fairways at any point Sunday.

He gave a slight wave, pulled the ball from the cup and smiled.

Haxel heard every voice, every cheer, every ounce of encouragement he was receiving from family and friends. Yet, one voice resonated a little louder, touched him a little more, pushed him a little harder to go for broke over the final few holes of the Quincy Men's City Golf Championships.

It was the voice only he could hear.

It is Donna Marten's voice he'll never forget.

Haxel's 85-year-old grandmother passed away last weekend and the family laid her to rest a couple of days before the city tournament was scheduled to tee off. Her passing, which came 15 months after her husband and Haxel's grandfather, John Marten, passed away, meant this would be one of the few events Haxel or his brother, Conner, participated in where their grandmother wasn't a sideline fixture.

She seemed to be there for every baseball game either played, specifically when they were in high school at Quincy Notre Dame. She was in a cart, following closely each summer during the city golf tournament hoping Haxel could rekindle the consistent play that won him the championship in 2011.

He wasn't too far off this time, finishing fourth at 3-over 145. It's his third top-five finish since winning the title and further proof he can still compete as the responsibilities of parenthood, full-time employment and life in general limit how often he gets to play.

"It's been a rough year and a half or so," Haxel said. "But this is just a game. We do this to come out and have fun. You remember that as you go around and hear people cheering and see people smiling."

No one would have smiled brighter than Donna Marten, no matter where Haxel found himself on the leaderboard.

"She wouldn't have cared if I got fourth or first or fifth," Haxel said. "She would have loved and cared for me no matter what. I just try to emulate that in life going forward."

He does that as well as anyone.

He shared light-hearted and funny moments with his caddie, George Schrage. He joyfully played to the crowd. He hugged and showed loved for those who gravitated toward him. And he made certain to let his mother know what it meant to have her in the gallery.

Unable to find his tee shot on the par-4 12th -- it likely ended up in the water in front of the green -- Haxel took a drop and plopped his next shot on the middle of the green above the hole. Before heading over to size up the putt, he walked into a gaggle of carts, found his mother, Vickey, gave her a hug and a kiss and went back to playing.

Life changes day to day much the way a round of golf changes shot to shot. You have to embrace it, fight through it and smile and love each other as much you can.

Donna Marten taught her children and grandchildren to do that.

Haxel got the message, and he'll carry on that family legacy.