I went golfing today with our oldest grandson, Jake. Golfing with a grandson is one of the truly great gifts from God. But then, doing anything with your grandchildren is a gift from God. We have two other grandchildren, Matty and Kirsten, and I love them all. I’d like to teach them all to golf and one day we can have our own family foursome. I’m hoping if I take them golfing now that one day, many years from now, they’ll come pick me up and take me golfing. And hopefully, when I’m on a fixed income, they’ll pay for it!
Jake is a very good golfer and I love it when he does better than me, which is most of the time. When you swing a golf club and the swing is good and the club hits the ball true, it makes a sweet sound and you understand instantly — this is going to be something special. And it is. Whether its a tee shot that sails over 200 yards or a 5-wood hit out of the rough that lands on the green, seeing a grandchild succeed is great fun. I guess, even more than seeing him succeed, what I enjoy is seeing the pleasure he gets from this.
At 14 years old, he’s a good bit taller than me and I like looking up at him. I am very proud of our grandchildren. I admire the young men and woman they are becoming. I look up to all of them in every sense of the word.
My grandfather loved to golf. He was a preacher and he usually golfed on Wednesdays when many golf courses in Chicago offered free rounds to preachers. He died when I was 11 years old and I never had a chance to golf with him. I regret that, but it was in the 1950s and times were different then.
The first time I golfed I was about 12 and I went with my cousin, Tim Wright. We went to a par three course named Salt Creek in Wood Dale, Illinois. I borrowed clubs from my Aunt Giggs. The grips were pink, but I was happy to play. I left her nine iron beside a green and she sent us back with instructions to find it or pay the consequences. We found it.
My dad was happy I had started golfing, but I think he really wanted to be the one who got me going. He took me golfing many times and I never had a lesson. He taught me himself. I remember one day when he told me I would have to learn a new grip. “This is a better grip than what I told you. It’s new. Do it this way,” he said. I did. It’s the grip I still use, now endorsed by the pro has given me, and Jake, lessons.
I had a wonderful father and I remember golfing with him in great detail. I can remember the courses and driving to them and driving home. Almost fifty years later I can remember individual shots. I can still see him chipping in from off the green. I can taste the hotdogs we had at lunch. I can hear his laughter. These times with my father are treasures that can never be taken away from me. They enrich my life beyond measure.
I hope Jake feels this way, and I think he does. On the golf course we can communicate a lot without even speaking. While we want to do good, I tell him it doesn’t really matter if our shot lands on the green or in the sand trap. We golf for fun. Don’t ever mistake golf for work, Jake. Tests are work. Writing is work. Golf is something we do together for fun. And in doing that, we build memories.
I’ll tell you a secret, Jake, that I’ve never told anyone before. Sometimes when we’re on the golf course, and we’re hitting good and laughing, I feel like my father is there with us enjoying it, too. That it a very special feeling to me, Jake. It spans the generations.
Don’t dip your left shoulder when you swing, Jake. Hit your chip shot to the green exactly how you practice it. Check the roll of the green very carefully before you putt. And remember that whatever happens I love you, Jake. Grandchildren are the hole in one in my life.