Love Affair Pt.3 (G)

They way this game makes its way in to people’s lives has always struck me as amazing. We are the lucky ones who become engulfed by golf, mesmerized by it, captivated by it, chasing that dream of perfection we all have in our minds. It’s unlike any other sport on this planet and I can confidently say it is the most challenging, frustrating, annoying, beautiful game anyone out there could only pray to find. I’ve love diving into my partner’s stories about their passion for the game, how it started, and where it’s going. It is like a glimpse into the soul hearing these stories we all have, the special moments that change the directions of our lives forever. When my partners and I met our freshmen year in college, my story had been going on for years, chasing the little white ball around with a bag full of sticks strapped to my back. I owe our friendship to the game really, because if it wasn’t for golf i never would have gone to that school.  Whether it is family or friends finally getting us to play, randomly finding an old club lying in a dark corner in the garage, seeing a beautiful golf swing somewhere, or just curiosity that strikes someone and persuades them to give it a go,  we all have our stories and I am excited to give you mine.

This game has been the best thing that has ever happen to me in my life besides my family. I have met amazing people, played on beautiful pieces of property, traveled to and have lived in gorgeous places, and have developed a skill and passion that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Golf has been my life for as long as I can truly remember. The funny thing is all I remember from the early stages was my dad trying to get me to play and me not wanting anything to do with it. My Dad got me playing right around the age of 10. Neither of my parents pushed my sister or I about playing sports, but I remember my dad giving me nudges towards golf. The weekends of saying “hey come watch this with me” or “come give this a try”. All I remember thinking was how boring it seemed, which seems like a bit of a joke at this point in my life. He finally got me to give it a reasonable try and once he got me going it was game over from there. My parents couldn’t get the club out of my hands, hitting balls in the yard, setting up a hitting net during the PA winters made of a comforter hanging from the rafters in the garage, begging to add the golf channel to our TV plan, I fell unbelievably hard for the game, and I cannot thank my Dad enough for it.  I was the only kid at my school that played golf so I ended up having to play for a different school. I liked the guys that were on my team, but I was playing for myself. I felt no pressure to make their school look good, I was doing it for me and me only (this led to me never being a fan of playing team sports). Where I’m going with this is I spent my formative years with a golf club in hand. When most kids are learning how to party, I was grinding in the yard learning how to hit the Tiger flop over my mom’s apple trees and gardens, playing makeshift “tournaments” with my neighbors who were just taking up the game too playing from their yard to mine creating golf holes. At that time I thought it was just a game, but looking back this time spent working on my game was far more than that. I was working on myself as a person, learning how to conduct myself in the real world far earlier in life than any of my friends did. Playing Thursday afternoons with my dad in the 9 hole tool room league wasn’t just a way for me to make a little skins money. These days taught me how to be one of the guys and not a snotty teenager, how to talk business, basically how a man should be out there in the world. As a kid I was always told by the older generation I handled myself well beyond my years and I credit a lot of that to my parents getting me into the game.

I could go so many different ways with this story talking about college and doing certain things within the game that come off as impressive or special, but it’s deeper than that.  The game transcends more than just a sport; it emulates our daily highs and lows of life. It has been said over and over golf is as close of a game to the game of life that we can find. Just as in life we face these highs and lows throughout the game and it molds us as people. I’ve played at considerably high levels throughout my life and there have been times where I have considered hanging it up and I’m only 28. Stretches where it is more painful than fun, an unbelievably foreign move that at that moment in time had crippled my mind and drove me to the point of considering it to be my last round ever, but we keep grinding. We just have keep swinging because it all works itself out in the end.

I love this game with all of my being, there is no way I can convey through a keyboard how much golf has done for me through my life. This past year it has done amazing things for my mind, body and soul. The man I owe this lifelong love affair to passed far too soon in his life this last year. Even though over these past few years we didn’t get to play much it was still a focus for us to get out on the golf course every time I came home. I still called him the first weekend of every April and said “hey the Masters are on”. And it was right around that time every year where he would ask me to find him a new driver so he could pick up 10 or 15 yards, even though he only played 2 or 3 times a year since I moved away.  I still feel him on the golf course even though we didn’t get out too much anymore, whispering in my ear “quit trying to shape it, just hit the  damn ball straight” when I miss a green or “you coulda been somebody” when I leave a birdie putt short dead in the heart. I know he still walks the fairways with me and it was made clear the first time I played after he passed. I was asked to play the course I grew up on with my dad’s best friend just to get me out of the house for a quick 9. From the 1st tee to the 9th green I was overcome with an unbelievable calm I had never experienced in my life. A quiet simplicity I had never experienced that translated its way through me and onto the golf course as if his hands were on my shoulders. I owe this crazy journey all to him. If it wasn’t for that hand me down set of knock off Ping irons my dad got me from someone he worked with who knows where I would be in life today. It’s more than just a game, I love every aspect of it, and I so unbelievably thankful the greatest man I have ever known convinced me to pick up that first club. Just keep swinging everyone, and play well.

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