My Christmas gift to you — family golf
For starters, I want to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas, and hope my gift suggestions a column or two ago will help you drive longer, putt better and add to your enjoyment of golf in 2014.
I am certainly having fun with my collection of putters on my designated putting area. It’s a good companion for my writing.
Today, it is the first official day of winter, and the weather is more like spring. Take advantage of this great opportunity. Even a rainy day here is better than a good day in Scotland — so I am told.
And if there is snow on the ground, there is always — The Golf Channel. Speaking of which, I thoroughly enjoyed last week’s coverage of the Father PNC Father/Son Challenge at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando.
There was no “Mickey Mouse” about it — it was fathers and sons (and an occasional father and daughter) enjoying the great game of golf — together.
It reminded me of my days growing up in Denver, Colorado, playing golf on Saturdays with my father. He was just a duffer, forced to play with women’s ”Patty Berg Special” clubs because of his height, or lack of it. I was a typical high-school athlete, excelling at football and baseball, but sucking at golf.
I tried to “kill the ball” with every drive — we all know what happens with that — a one- or two-fairway slice or a chunk and run. But that didn’t matter much. I was with my dad for four-plus hours, enjoying Mother Nature and an occasional pat on the back.
After high school, may father and I didn’t play much golf together. College didn’t seem to leave much time for that. Nor did my time far afield in the U.S. Air Force.
Before I knew it, I was raising a family of my own, and just like that — a heart attack took my best friend and golf partner away from me — forever.
All of this came back to touch me deeply last weekend, as I watched Jack Nicklaus golfing with his son, Gary; and Stewart Cink high-fiving and hugging his son, Conner; Fuzzy Zoeller with his arm around his daughter, Gretchen Chappo; and Davis Love III, consoling his son, Dru — who was happy not to have been named Davis Love IV.
As I watched these pros and sons, the great golf wasn’t as meaningful to me as the great family relationships. I reflected back on my own decision to sell my clubs when I moved from Denver, because I thought golf would be “selfish,” and take too much time away from my growing family.
During those years, I was a soccer coach, scoutmaster, and dive buddy — but I didn’t resume golfing until both boys had grown up and moved away. Looking back on it now, it was my loss.
So let this little narrative be a lesson to you. If you are looking for a golf partner for next Saturday, look first at your family. Share the great game of golf with them for what might become a lifetime of memories.
Look to the example of Rick Constance, head golf professional at Lake Junaluska Golf Course. He played golf with his daughter, Laura, and son, Christian, throughout their growing-up years. Both Laura and Christian played on the golf team for Tuscola. Christian is now playing for North Greenville University, and as a 17-year old freshman, made the top five to play in all of their fall matches.
Best of all, when the kids are home, he can golf with them as much as they want— except for this year. Constance is recuperating after a recent knee replacement, but he had this to say about encouraging children to golf, “What better atmosphere could you ask your kids to involved in?”
I heartily agree. And I encourage all of you fathers and mothers out there to take to the links with your children in 2014. And maybe — just maybe — one of the area’s great golf courses will sponsor a Father & Son golf outing in 2014.
I’d be the first to give the pro a big pat on the back.