What it taught me about golf.
I am admittedly a certified golf nut. I play about 100 rounds every summer. I play in two different golf leagues in the evening. I also play 10–12 stroke play tournaments each year with a senior publinx organization.
I spend a long weekend each year in July with my son playing golf in northern Michigan. I play a warmup 18 on Thursday and then we play 36 holes each day, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We both love it.
Later in July, I organize a family golf outing each year. My mom, stepfather, brother, sister, cousins, nieces, and nephews all get together to play an 18 hole scramble. It’s a lot of fun and everybody looks forward to it.
The same weekend as the family outing, my son, brother, and brother-in-law all play in a church outing that our family has played in for the last 50 years. My dad and grandfather originally started playing in this outing in the early 60’s. It’s a golf tradition in our family that we enjoy continuing.
In August, my brother and I go for a week long golf trip in northern Michigan every year. We play an arrival round on Saturday and then play 36 holes each day, Sunday through Thursday. We finish it off with 18 holes on Friday before heading for home. The competition is keen and the week is never long enough. It always seem to go by so fast. Like I said, certified golf nut.
This past Fall and Winter I had the opportunity to play two rounds of golf with my stepfather, Roger. He also, is a certified golf nut, and he is 90 years old. By the way, these were real rounds of golf. We played every hole from tee to green until the hole was completed in a conceded putt or holed out.
We played our first round on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It was a cold, gray day, typical of central Ohio for this time of year. The wind was blowing and the temperature peaked at a cold 40 degrees. This wasn’t ideal golfing weather but if he was up for it, I was in. We both bundled up and away we went. Ironically, we weren’t the only golfers on the course!
This round was a victory lap and a trip down memory lane for Roger. After 30 years, and being one of the original members of this country club, Roger had resigned his membership earlier in the month. His membership was active until the end of November and we were there to get in one last trip around the course.
Roger reminisced about playing certain holes when they were newly finished before the entire course was completed and open for play. He remembered playing in similar weather conditions. Roger had a streak of playing at least one round every month for 15 years when he was well into his 80’s. A hip replacement finally ended his streak but it was an impressive one.
Our round took about three hours and it was a pleasant round of golf. Roger enjoyed getting out and playing one more round here. It brought back a lot of fond memories over the years. Mostly these were of different people he had played with and were rarely about a good round or a good shot. This last round wasn’t a sad occasion. Roger seemed happy to be out playing in the cold on the course he loved for 30 years, one more time.
Our next round took place in Florida. Roger arranged for a round of golf with one of this friends, John. We were a 3-some on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The temperature in the mid 70’s and sunshine were a welcome respite after our previous round.
We had a pleasant afternoon enjoying each other’s company. This was a slow round. It was after all, Saturday afternoon and the course was crowded. We had plenty of time to talk on the tees while we were waiting for a the group ahead to get out of range. I found out that Roger and John knew each other from a golf trip they both took to Scotland some 20 years earlier.
Roger has some hearing loss and wears hearing aids but he always seems to be able to hear better on the golf course. This is one of the reasons I have always enjoyed our time together on the course. Roger is quite the conversationalist on the course when he can hear.
Once again Roger played every stroke of every hole. This might not sound that impressive but at 90 years old, Roger doesn’t hit the ball very far anymore. He hits it 3–4 times for every stroke John and I took getting to the green. So Roger actually played a lot more strokes and at his age I was impressed.
We finished up in about four and a half hours and then met our wives for dinner in the clubhouse. It was quite the enjoyable day!
Roger thoroughly enjoyed both of these rounds. But it wasn’t about the good golf or the good score. This was just about the sheer joy of still being able to get out and still play a complete round of golf. He enthusiastically played every shot. He never showed any signs of getting tired. He played the 18th hole with the same enthusiasm that he played the 1st hole.
And this got me thinking. I’ve often wondered what would be the joy in golf when I couldn’t play well anymore. I’ve always been competitive and the fun in golf has always been in playing well and hitting the ball a long way. It has always been about winning.
Roger didn’t have any of these things going for him in these rounds. True, he did make a couple of putts and did hit a couple of good fairway woods but there wasn’t much in his game that would have brought me much enjoyment. Yet, he had still managed to find enjoyment just in the act of being out on the golf course and being able to still play the game.
That’s my take away from these rounds. No matter how bad things are going on any particular round, I’ll still remember the joy that Roger had in just being able to play!