Spring is in the air in the northeast, well, that’s if a 60 degree day excites you. Despite the teasingly slow rise in temperature there are several things which signal the change in season – aggressive crocus pushing its way out of the ground, a lawn which resembles my hairline (some growing in some places, some not growing in others), and The Masters.
To me The Masters Golf tournament in early April signals the onset of Spring whether the rest of the country is ready or not. It’s inspirational – the golf course always looks great; the flowers are in bloom and most everybody is looking out their own windows saying, “do we live in the same country as Augusta, Georgia?”
The sport of golf for me has always been a love/hate relationship. It reminds me of a middle school crush on a girl who doesn’t even know you’re alive, or just doesn’t care. That’s golf. You would do anything to be good in the sport; buy the best equipment, go to the driving range, take lessons, and travel to great courses…and “she” just ignores your “crush” by letting you spend a day driving out-of-bounds on every tee shot!
Some may ask why I would even take up this sport, well here’s my story…
My lovely wife and I met in college. As those who have been in any relationships, getting along with the parents is the key to success. My late father-in-law (called Dadoo later by his grandchildren) was a dentist who adored his game of golf. He would play every weekend, and sneak out on the occasional afternoon because he could make his own schedule. When it was clear that I was going to be hanging around the family for a while, Dadoo asked me whether I’d ever played golf before or would be interested in picking up the sport…relationship-builder that I am, of course said yes, and we were off.
I’m sure most of you know that in nearly all cases, “dentist” means “perfectionist” and so he clearly operated by the rules in his work and on the golf course. Fine with me; I’d had some exposure to the sport in high school, as my roommate taught me the fine art of caddying while he played our school course. So, I was pretty well schooled in the etiquette of the sport, but never really swung a club with much success.
Dadoo would take me to his local club to play and on family vacations as well. Patience was definitely a virtue as I went through a horrid period of learning the game. Like any perfectionist, Dadoo held me to following the rules early on…out of bounds – tee it up again, count all the strokes, handing out very few gimmies. A decent and consistent golfer, when we would go to places like Myrtle Beach with great courses, Dadoo was happy to take me to the “goat patch” type courses which were cheap and full of hackers like me. Have to say as I’ve taken my own children to these courses as well, and I’ve had new-found respect for Dadoo (and his commitment to my learning the game) who had to just hate playing on those tracks.
Well, finally my game was up to speed and I was allowed out to play with the big boys. Our family vacations were lots of fun as we would play great courses, and always hold the “in-laws vs. the outlaws” tournament each year for bragging rights over many, many Coors Lights.
When not on vacation, Dadoo would come to our area and bring his clubs. Not having a local club membership, we were often victims of the public courses in the area both in terms of cost, quality and long, long waiting times and rounds of golf.
One such course was in the town next to ours and had a strict rule about non-residents teeing off after 2pm. The course was a goat path (sparse and hilly), where a bike helmet would have made more sense than a visor…but hey, it was golf.
One weekend, we had a relatively late tee time. We had contracted a golf cart, and the dude (clearly from the Sopranos cast) behind the desk in the pro shop said that he didn’t care if we were playing 18 holes – he wanted the cart back at 5pm. Agreeing to the terms, off we went.
I remember that we made the turn and teed off of the 10th hole, probably around 4:50 pm. We discussed the cart situation and decided we weren’t going to walk with our bags as we couldn’t be back by dark.
I think it was after we teed off of the 11th hole and as we were proceeding to our balls in the fairway a scene out of Mario Karts occurred. Chasing, yes chasing us were two other carts from the pro shop, one of which had our Soprano friend driving and screaming for us to return the cart. Picture Mario and Luigi being attacked by Donkey Kong. Adding to the horror is if you’d ever been in a car with Dadoo, you would know this wouldn’t deter him…in fact, he simply sped up and the race was on…up and down hills!
Yes, they finally caught us and ordered us (‘youse) to”get the damn carts back now”….which we did and decided to head home….laughing all the way.
Dadoo and I did go back to the course the next year only to learn from a memorial sign near the putting green that our Soprano’s guy had passed away that winter…our guess it was from reckless golf cart operating (Mario Kart karma?)…or maybe he simply chased the wrong guy!
Not sure I’ll ever be a consistent golfer, but have Dadoo to thank for introducing me to the sport that I still have a “crush” on and won’t pay attention to me….
C’mon golf, we don’t have to date – can we at least be friends?