The latest in my continuing series of running across old sports columns and re-running them here, probably against all copyright rules and all that crap . . .
De-junking around the house – specifically packing up stuff in my daughter’s old room so the painter can do his thing – I found a column my kid clipped from the paper and pinned to a cork board. It is from the summer of 2006. I read it again for the first time in years. Naturally, it made me shed a tear or two of dad-love, which is what this silly column about golf is really about.
I pulled it from the archives. I hope you like it.
We Lost a Few Golf Balls — and Found Ourselves
I’m told by the PGA of America that this is “Take Your Daughter to the Course” Week.
I do what I’m told.
My 15-year-old and I drove to a golf course. We brought our Gatorades and applied our sunscreen. I reached into the trunk and fished out my clubs.
“I’m already hot and tired,” the girl said. “Just so you know.”
Did I mention that my kid doesn’t actually play golf? That she thinks golf is as stupid as pickled beets? That when she catches me watching golf, she rolls her eyes and mutters some form of, “How can you watch that?”
And that on most days she’d accept a six-hour ban from myspace.com (Editor’s note: myspace??!!) over having anything remotely to do with golf?
“I know why you want me to play golf with you,” she said with a snarky smile. “To make yourself look good for once.”
Did I mention that I love to play golf but don’t actually play real great? That I can coach some sports halfway decently, but that golf isn’t one of them? And that I had hoped my girl and I would get our nine-hole round at Lambert’s Point off to just a little better start?
It probably didn’t help that, as we left the car, I had her strap on my bag so she could get the full “caddie experience.” She took four wobbly steps toward the clubhouse.
“I’m not a mule,” she announced, and released her burden — a broad hint that walking nine was preposterously out of the question.
The cart saved the day. The girl is a few months from getting her learner’s permit. She wants to drive more than she wants unlimited text messaging.
“If I could,” she said, “I’d buy a golf cart and use it as a car.”
Things were looking up. We rented her clubs and jumped behind the wheel. First stop, the practice range, since it had been a while since I’d dragged her onto a course.
Obviously, she needed one of my easy-to-understand refreshers on the golf swing’s critical points: grip, ball positioning, posture, turning her shoulders, taking the club back, bringing it through square, shifting her weight, understanding the relationship between the length of her arms’ hypotenuse and the angle of the sun.
She sprayed a few along the ground when she didn’t miss the ball altogether.
“Why is golf always harder than it looks?” she grumped.
Sure, and I guess that’s dad’s fault, too, right?
So anyway, we started to play, because that’s what we’d by God come to do.
On the first hole, I failed miserably to coach her out of a greenside bunker — until about her sixth swipe, when she cracked a laser over the green and down a hill into Lambert’s Point’s ample gorse. Suddenly, we couldn’t stop laughing.
Suddenly, it looked as if it might be a great day after all.
We whiffed and flailed — I pleaded a shoulder injury, OK? We lost tons of balls in the high grass and the ravines. The girl drove. We didn’t keep score — who could count that high? The girl drove some more. The course was empty and Mulligan-friendly, so we took advantage. We giggled and goofed and fell down like the teen she is and the one I haven’t been for 30 years.
And the kid proved to be a supportive partner: When I took waaay too literally one hole’s printed instructions to aim my tee shot right, she chirped a bubbly, “Well, you listened to the sign.”
Turns out the girl can talk smack, putt and drive. A cart, I mean.
“For the record,” the journalist’s kid said as we neared the end, “the golf cart was my favorite part.”
Still, by the ninth, she was proud of the little half-wedge shot she’d worked on, popping it up and dropping it gently on the green in the general vicinity of where she’d aimed.
“That was fun, sort of,” the girl said as we headed for the parking lot and to an air-conditioned lunch. “But even if I had a future in golf, I don’t think I’d want a future in golf.”
Hmm. I’m thinking that’s not exactly the feel-good response that “Take Your Daughter to the Course” Week was born to bring.
So how come our couple of hours on the course together felt so good?