“Golf is a game you can’t win” said Larry plainly. Larry’s 73, and while I’ll likely never see the man again, it was a fun three hours of golf with him, his son Mike, and my dad. Before the round, Dad asked if I wanted to hit some balls over at the practice tee… “Nah, I’ll be fine,” I said with a smile, even though it had been over a year since I’d touched a club. The curious thing was Dad’s sincerity. That was contrast to the last time we played the Baseline Golf Course when my desire to hit a few warm-up balls was met with angry objection. Dad’s neighbor, Dickie Greene was “up Maine” visiting family and brought his clubs over to Dad’s before he left in case we decided to play. Dick’s a great guy and I’m glad Dad has him as a friend.
On to the first tee… Dad’s always been competitive on the links, and we’ve had fun over the years trying to psych each other out. On occasion, the trash talk had resulted in some bruised egos, so I had no intention of kicking things off by reminding Dad of the left side body of water… After about 4 holes I was up 3 when Dad banged one on the green from about 160 yards and said, “Don’t let that put any pressure on you.” I wasn’t biting, but my shot fell short about 20 yards right. I chipped on and then watched a 12 footer lip out. I tapped in for a 4 and then watched the old man drain a 10 footer for par. Ouch.
The next hole was a short par 3, playing about 120 yards. Dad popped one up that landed about 20 yards from the green. I pushed my shot and it lofted to a grassy spot 30 yards to the right of the green. I chipped on and then turned to watch Dad top his ball and roll it into a sand trap. He has to get over a pretty steep lip of the trap so he took a healthy swing. When the sandstorm subsided, the Titleist was wedged right up in the top of the lip… Rut-Roh. I could sense Dad’s blood pressure medication was really going to earn it’s co-pay now. He stepped forward in the sand and took a half swing to pop the ball onto “the dancefloor.” Cool. I turned back at the sound of a thud and saw Dad face down, half in and half out of the trap. I think he was a little embarrassed and hastened his way onto his feet. I made sure he was OK and with no sarcasm said, “forget about it and focus on the putt.” He did and never let it get to him. We didn’t speak about the little mishap for a couple holes, but it lingered. Finally I couldn’t resist: “It looked like you got the first down.” Dad laughed. And smiled. It took him nearly all of his 74 years to mellow out, but he really has.
Larry is right. Golf is a game you can’t win, but when you’re out on a 74 degree day with your dad who matched the warmth in years, winning’s not the point.