(With apologies to Simon & Garfunkel)
Hello golf course, my old friend
I’ve come to play on you again
Take out my driver and my irons too
I’ve got a long putt that I’ll make in two
And the vision of the ball dropping in the
This is the joy of golfing
Yes, after a yearlong self-imposed layoff, I once again found myself standing over my ball on the first-tee – ready to play a round of golf. And, it was awesome. It was like that feeling you have when you make up with a good friend with whom you’ve had a blowout fight. You haven’t spoken for years and you don’t remember why you fought in the first place, but you pick right back up with the good stuff.
My heart was racing as I got ready to swing my driver. The Marshall was watching, the starter was watching, the group behind us was watching. And, I crushed it.Right down the freaking middle of the fairway. It felt so good to be back.
I was never the “play-every-weekend” guy, but I did play every few weeks or so. It was a great way to clear the decks, get outside, bull[filtered word]e with some friends and, otherwise, just regroup. Until it wasn’t. Before long with all the “other stuff” going on – it was just four-plus hours of stress. What calls was I missing? What was going on with K-Man? When would I find time to finish project A, B or C?
With all of these thoughts came lost balls, missed putts and more misery. In short – it just wasn’t fun. Regardless of how hard I tried, shot after shot went awry. I gave up. I put away the clubs.
The golf gods and parenting gods conspired today to make sure that I enjoyed my first round in a year. The weather was perfect. The course was immaculate. And, I actually played pretty well – carding four pars and birdie. (That is, had I kept score. I even missed my first-ever eagle by only an inch.) They say you only need one good shot to keep you coming back; well, I actually had enough to store up the next few rounds.
I played with a friend of mine who has a one-year old daughter and we were paired with Jim – a 50-something father of five, ages 19 – 27. Jim is from Boston and is out here visiting his wife who is currently living in San Francisco for a year (they both commute back and forth to see each other for long stretches). While even after 30-plus years of marriage, I wouldn’t be able to imagine spending so much time apart from G – I was more amazed by the five kids.
I asked him if there were any secrets. How do you keep five kids on the right path, or at least get them back to the right path should they veer off. “Tawd,” he said as only a real New Englander can, “You put them to bed each night and it’s just this” (as he crossed himself). “You have to put a lot of faith in God that they will get through it.”
Now, while I may not being “air-crossing” the kid anytime soon, I appreciated his candor. He went on to tell me that three of his kids have “figured it out” and two are still struggling to find their way – including his oldest. “I just hope it doesn’t take some kind of tragedy for it to finally click in.”
I also asked him what the hardest part of raising five kids has been? Without hesitation, he answered, “The drugs.” My friend, Chris, and I nodded in agreement. I think that’s a universal fear among all parents.
The parenting lesson was broken up by Chris, “Dude, you’re away – try not to three-putt this hole, too.” Damn, I’ve missed golf. The point is, I guess, whether we’re on the golf course or with our kids – we can only do the very best we can. There are all kinds of “life divots” that may occur. Our job? Just step up and make the best shot we know how. Hopefully – somehow - we’ll get it right. And, as Jim told us, you just don’t give up.
And the people bowed and prayed
To the white dimpled God they made
And the club swung out its fast warning
As the arc of the ball was forming
And the signs said, the words of the golf pros
Are written in magazine pages
And come from sages
And whispered in the joy of golfing.