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Golf — The game you can play (even poorly) for life

By Paul Viau | Jul 27, 2016
Photo by: Paul Viau CHIP, CHIP CHIPPIN' AWAY — Davin Viau, elder male grand of the family, practices at Maggie Valley Club.

A few columns ago, I wrote about the upcoming visit from our two oldest grands (short for grandkids), ages 14 and 16.

Well, I’m happy to report that we not only survived that week of walking (and texting) in their shoes, we followed-up with a day-long car trip to deliver the grands back home to Indianapolis, were we were joined by our two other grands, ages 4 and 8, for a long weekend.

It’s been a while since our two boys, their wives and all four grands were under one roof.

There were, of course, a few fireworks during the visit — but mostly on Independence Day, when my younger son, Nate, and his friend, Jay, teamed up to to put on a professional quality lakeside fireworks display.

It was spectacular, to say the least, and as Carol and I drove back home to our mountain home the next day, we reflected on what a wonderful time we had — how much the grands had grown; where our oldest grand, Serena, would go to college in another year, how fortunate I was not to have been ‘taken down’ by my 8-year-old grand marshal arts expert, Kai; what a bright breath of sunshine our youngest grand, Zoe, is; and how excited my older grandson, Davin, is about golf.

It was a huge surprise, because the game of golf, which is usually passed from father to son, inadvertently skipped a generation. My father taught me, but not my brother, Rob, for some reason.

I gave up the game shortly after the birth of my two sons, because I couldn’t justify being away from the family for half a day (or longer) every weekend. Instead, we went camping and backpacking, and I volunteered as their assistant soccer coach, Cub Scout master and Boy Scout leader.

Only after the boys were grown and safely in college did I find time for golf, and it was Carol who suggested I take up the game again. We were living in Miami, where you can golf year ‘round, and a dozen nice golf courses were nearby.

So one day, I ordered golf clubs online and took a few lessons. I started playing an occasional round of golf, which is exciting in Miami.

One time, I arrived early at Calusa Country Club in the Kendall area of Miami, and as I took my golf clubs out of the trunk, I saw a very muscular man, sitting on the bumper of his car — not a Ford Bronco — putting on his golf shoes.

When I went inside to pay, the clerk asked me, “Would you like to golf with Mr. Simpson?”

“O.J. Simpson?” I replied. “No thanks. I’d rather be behind Mr. Simpson. “

(“The farther the better,” I said to myself.)

Later on, as I waited a comfortable distance from the first tee, as O.J. teed-up and drove the ball a country mile, all these clever quips filled my head:

“I bet O.J. has a wicked slice.” “He sure can kill the ball.” “Hey, I didn’t know Bruno Magli made golf shoes.” Etc.

I played very slowly that day, well behind, Simpson’s party of two, and I didn’t follow him into the 19th hole lounge.

When Carol and I moved to Jupiter, Florida, I joined a group of neighbors for a weekly game, and became hooked on golf. So much so, that when we made the big move to North Carolina, I wrangled a job as starter at Maggie Valley Club, where I have been for nine seasons.

Did you know? The staff at Maggie Valley Club is very kid-friendly, and when I brought my visiting grand, Davin, to the club, Chris Stinson, club pro, met us at the short game area for a chipping lesson, then followed us to the range, where Davin learned the basics of the golf swing.

We visited MVC a second time that week for more ‘practice’ and I videoed Davin’s swing.

Chris was able to dissect the swing in slow-motion and show him how much his head was moving.

Unfortunately, we left a couple days later for the road trip to Indianapolis, but the grands were comfortably home, I surprised Davin with a gift of one of my many putters, a practice hole and three Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. He seemed pleased — but more pleased that his girlfriend, Elizabeth, had come over to visit. Ahh, to be a teenager again.

Actually, if were granted such a wish, I’d forego football (where I lettered all four years in high school) and focus on golf — a game you can play for life, regardless of skill level. Every golfer has his own handicap. Mine is — I learned to play much too late.

Davin, I hope you are practicing with that putter.