As it is now US Open Golf week, and Father’s Day falls on Sunday of the final round, I find myself being a bit nostalgic as I write this article. Golf has given me literally so many things that are tangible…a career and a way to provide for my family. More importantly, it is the intangibles that are priceless to me. I’ve made lifelong friends, many of whom were from different walks of life, different age or stage. It was the love of golf we shared and it brought us together in spite of different ethnicities, different political views and different schools (both education and ways of thinking.)
And now, as my own kids are starting to hit the mid-teens, golf has given me a way to stay connected with them. We have the hard and the strange talks of life on the course. My kids have seen me lose my temper over the smallest thing on the course, but they’ve also seen me control that same temper in very unfortunate, tough situations.
Like other families, my kids are spoiled with things I never dreamed of: iPads, iPods and laptops. I know how easy it is for them to “zone out” on a screen with a game, a show or a social media feed. Yet, when I say, “You wanna go to the golf course,” their answer is invariably, “Yes, Dad…now? Please?” (I’ve even got them to clean their room faster, more thoroughly, just so they can go tee it up with me. I know…amazing!)
But, the credit for this connection doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to my Dad. I remember having this epiphany one day before Father’s Day. I realized that because of golf, and how it brought my Dad and I together, I didn’t really care for the term “father.” To me, this term seemed too formal, too rigid…I liked Dad. Dad meant, and still means, so many things that are greater like “respected mentor,” “honorable friend” and the like.
I remember several instances when the “thoughtless teen” in me, took my Dad’s friendship with me a bit too much for granted and I said something in jest to be funny, and it only came across as disrespectful, unkind or just plain rude. (I’m afraid, I still do that too much.) When I “hit that poor shot” with my mouth, my Dad was still amazing. He’d say, “Before I get annoyed with what you just said, would you like a mulligan?” In other words, he was giving me a do-over. This is another thing my Dad did well that just hasn’t translated to me as well as I’d like…good thing my kids are kind too.
The funny part about golf for my Dad in this whole story is that he didn’t like to play. He wasn’t even interested in playing. But, when he realized it was the game his son wanted to play, he was all in. After a few rounds, he caught the “golf bug” too, but not like me. Sure, he wanted to play well, get better and have the confidence of a good player…but, I realize now that he would have been satisfied with just a relationship with his “Main Man” as he likes to refer to me.
Even as I got significantly better than him, his normal competitive nature took a back seat to his strong desire for a relationship with me. (And he knows me well…too well.) His desire to design, construct and maintain a strong relationship with me, including investing himself in the quality time he needed to schedule with me to make it possible, inspired me then, and it inspires me more today. My fairly high level of confidence stems directly from his valuation of a relationship with me.
Some days I rhetorically ask myself, “What if Dad hadn’t adopted the game so he could spend quality time with me?” He paid for my clubs, average as they were, and he paid for the gas, the breakfast and the green fees every Saturday morning at Riverwood Golf Course, in Dundee, OR…he paid for it all. As a graduating senior from high school, I remember Dad saying pretty regularly, “You’re gonna have to pay this all back you know?” Usually this was as he was paying for another green fee for me.
To date, I have tried, by getting him on some pretty special places and making sure the green fee was covered, but I know I’ll never pay him back. (If you ask him, he’ll probably tell you he’s been paid back tenfold, when I asked him to be my Best Man, or when I still call or email him for advice, or just because I miss hearing his voice. I didn’t understand this until a few years ago when my kids started to move from tikes to teens.
So…Dad, (or by extension, Mom,) may I strongly suggest you follow the footsteps of my Dad (as I have.) If your child, grandchild has shown any interest in golf, or doesn’t prefer some of the mainstream team sports, maybe this summer would be a great time to introduce them (and yourself) to the treasures I’ve found in golf…better yet, go ask my Dad, (the gentleman his friends call “The Pearl”,) or someone like him about the way “chasing a little white ball” brought him, his son and now several of his grandchildren together in priceless, immeasurable ways.
To learn more about how to get involved with your family in golf today, please visitwww.playgolfamerica.com and enter your zipcode to find out more about special family-centered programs that are reasonably priced, low-stress and easy to register for…you’ll be glad you did this summer AND FOR A LIFETIME.