Golf and I have a long history. Some of it is glorious, some sad, and some just plain good. I started playing when I was seven or so and busted a neighbor’s window before I was ten. I really got into the game in my late teens and early 20s when I was doing all kinds of contortions to the club to get the face square at impact on my woods.
In my late 20s, for my career, I started taking lessons seriously. I learned how to play a course from the reds to the golds, the whites, blues and tips. I practiced my short game religiously and was hitting full pitching wedges in my backyard with regularity. I had a club in my hand six days a week and I got good.
As a little backstory, my dad was a highly sought after catcher in high school. He was heavily recruited and was told he had a clear path to the bigs… if he quit smoking. He wouldn’t, so his coach benched him and that was the end of his baseball career before it even started. My dad missed a ride to college and a chance at Major League Baseball because of “don’t tell me what to do”. This is the story of my life. My dad picked up golf and turned me on to the sport in my late childhood years. He passed his love of the sport on to me.
As I grew in my career, I was able to take off from work early on Fridays and take him out golfing. We hit the links together every week, all spring, summer and fall long, for years. His drinking-addled Alzheimer’s eventually made this weekly fun time impossible and I had to stop taking my dad out. It broke my heart. After he passed away in 2014, I went on a trip with a salesman I’d worked with for something like 17 years. It was a massively expensive trip, room included, to Treetops in the upper lower peninsula of Michigan. They have the most famous par-three course in the world on the resort. We played that and the two best eighteen hole standard courses on the property. And, as fun as it was, it broke my heart knowing I’d never walk a course with my dad again. It crushed my spirit and I put my clubs up in the garage. I thought, for good.
Until my eldest daughter asked me to teach her to play.
No way I was turning that down. I just picked it up again this year after an eight-year hiatus and I picked up almost exactly where I left off. I had my dad’s old set of irons extended to fit me (I’m about four inches taller than he was) and re-gripped. I used my old driver and his fairway metals to round out my set. I took my kid out to the range a few times and started hitting courses again, sparsely, with recovery friends.
Last weekend, down in Tennessee with my father-in-law, we hit the course he lives on for a couple of nine-hole rounds. I was crushing the ball. Not quite the 300+ yard drives of my younger days, but they were straight. And my irons were quite deadly.
I entered my scores into Swing U and when I checked my progress after that first day, it showed a six handicap.
Anything single-digit is quite outstanding, but when you’ve only played a few times in eight years, seeing a six staring back at me was vastly better than I’d dreamed possible.
I’ve not quite fully caught the golf bug, I have no plans to go back to how I used to play, but I’m back to having fun again. And now that I can hit the links with my father-in-law, I’m still golfing with a dad. And that’s good times and noodle salad.