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On Being Thankful for My Dad Passing His Athletic Genes to Me…

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My wife pointed out last night that, when it comes to sports, I am truly a blessed man. My father passed on every athletic gene he had to my brothers and I. I’m likely the more well-rounded among us, being better than proficient at hockey, in-line skating, baseball, softball, tennis, running, golf, bowling and cycling. When it comes to golf and cycling, I’m in the upper 1 – 3% – or, I should say, when it came to golf. My brother, Chris has been in the US armed forces since 2002, so you know he’s fit. He’s also proficient at baseball, softball and golf. My brother, Joe is a teaching pro in tennis. He is, without question, excellent and can also play some mean baseball.

In any event, I ended up quitting golf when I couldn’t take my dad anymore. It broke my heart, quite literally. And, truth be told, it was easy to set my clubs aside after that. I had young kids and a wife, and we didn’t have the money for me to keep playing as I had been. I actually worked with a teaching pro for a couple of years. He ran a driving range and had a pro shop just a mile from my office, so every day at lunch I’d head over and hit a bucket of balls. Herb built my clubs with frequency-matched Rifle shafts, adding 1-1/2″ to each, then dialed in the loft and lie to match my upright stance (think Jim Furyk without the crazy loop at the top of the backswing). Then he taught me the proper way to use those clubs. I devoted quite a bit of time, money and effort into golf, and I got good. Shooting par at my favorite courses became fairly regular. I was deadly with my short irons, decent with my mid- and long irons, and could stripe a drive down the center of the fairway 310 yards out (my longest, with a tailwind, was 340-ish). My first eagle was on a 540 yard par five. Driver 310, 5-wood to the back of the green, and I drained a 40′ putt.

Well, I expected all of that would end when I hung up the clubs. I figured my natural draw that I’d worked so hard to develop, would go away, and I knew I’d lose a lot of distance should I ever pick the sport up again.

I tried a few years ago, but that was short-lived as the pain of not being able to go with my dad was still too great. I figured that was about it for me and golf.

Our COO and VP of Operations recently asked me to start taking part in industry golf outings for the company. I’d also been pressured by a bowling buddy to hit a links or two with him… so golfing, all of a sudden, was back in the picture and I had to figure out how to make peace with not being able to golf with my dad anymore.

That’s when I started looking into customizing his set of clubs to fit me… and they turned out wonderfully. I started swinging the day after I got them back (it’s always good to let the glue set up an extra day on new grips)… and have been astonished to find I didn’t lose much at all. I’m eight years older and have only swung the clubs three times in the last eight years… and golf is absolutely a perishable skill. I should be horrible but I’m absolutely striping the ball. Sure, I have to work on my aim a little bit (that’s clearly a bit off), but I’ve got a nice little draw on the ball and it’s going far.

So, when I saw my wife was going to get home late for work and the rain had cleared up, I decided to head over to the range to hit a bucket last evening. I did my normal progression through the clubs – short irons first, SW or PW, then odd numbered irons up to the 5, then a 7-wood, 5-wood and finally, the driver. I’m carrying about 225 to 235 with range balls (about 240 to 255 with a decent ball) on the driver, and my fairway metals are looking fair (I need some work there). The big deal, though, is my irons. I mishit one pitching wedge yesterday and thinned two 5-irons. Other than that, while my aim needs improvement, the rest of my iron shots were solid.

In fact, I can’t remember ever hitting my old irons that well. Which means those Big Bertha irons you see up there are almost as forgiving as Jesus.

Whatever the case, the important thing is I’ve made my peace with my dad’s passing by getting his old clubs fitted and using them. I can’t help but feel he’s up there looking down with a smile on his face.

And that’s as good as it gets.

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2 Comments

  1. Uncoffined says:

    Thank you for sharing a very inspiring experience with us.

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