Golf with My Father

By Mercer BaggsJune 15, 2008, 4:00 pm
I dont play much golf anymore. Since I work an incessant amount of hours covering the game any free time I have Id rather spend with my growing family.
When I do play, which is about three times a year, I do so with my brother and my dad, my Pa. My Pa was a big fan of The Andy Griffith Show, hence the way Ive referenced him my entire life.
Pa taught me how to play the game, going back to my first set of over-sized plastic clubs. He taught me how to properly grip a club and how to properly swing a club. I learned on my own how to properly throw one.
My Pa is a phenomenal player. Hed say he was great; I think he still is. He won his club championship 20 some-odd times and has even more career holes-in-ones than that.
A crowning moment for a son is when he first beats his dad in golf. Tiger beat Earl at age 11. Im closing in on 33 and still in wait. Once, while playing at the University of Florida golf course, where my Pa attended college with the likes of Andy North, he gave me a stroke a hole. I shot 84. And lost.
My Pa, closing in on 60 this year, is now a Grandpa for the first time, which makes me Pa for the first time, since my beautiful wife gave birth to our beautiful twin daughters on Wednesday. I plan on introducing my girls, Malin Evans and Mallory Lane, to the game when the time is right. If they like it, great. If not, as long as they dont gravitate to soccer Im cool (Actually all Ill ever ask of them is that they love the Lord, honor thy mother and father, and root for the Florida Gators).
Prior to the twins' birth I had hoped to play golf again. With my Father. Just some one-on-one time to talk to Him about all the things cluttering my little mind. But the girls came 10 weeks early. And since my wife had been on hospital bed rest for two months prior to the delivery, every hour I had outside of the office was pretty much spent by her side, which appropriately enough was at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.
The good thing is: I can always talk to my Father. Whether playing golf, alone at home, or in a Triage room filled with wincing women and screaming children. Hes always there. Hes always listening. Which is good, because I have a lot about which to talk to Him.
Im still a decent golfer these days, despite my lack of repetition. I have a textbook swing, the product of good foundational teaching and learning how to play the game with a series of blades handed down by my Pa; but I have little touch. I putt like a tranquilized bear inside of 5 feet.
I used to be able to shoot in the mid 70s, back when I played the same course, my Pas course, Bainbridge Country Club, every day during one college summer. Even when I moved to Orlando way back in 96, I could still shoot in the upper 70s on an easy track and in the lower 80s on one of medium difficulty.
Now I just try to keep it in double digits.
But I dont get too mad anymore. I dont toss clubs anymore and havent broken or severely bent one in over five years, which, given my history, should make me eligible for some kind of humanitarian award.
Part of that has to do with the fact that I rarely play and so Ive tried ' tried ' to minimize my expectations. Part of that is when I do play I do so with my Pa, my namesake, and my younger brother, Evans, and just want to enjoy the time together, because it doesnt happen very often (and they're both going to clobber me anyway). And part of that is the result of a better relationship with my Father.
One of these days Ill get back out on a golf course. Maybe with my Pa and brother, maybe with my girls, maybe just me and my Father. Whatever the case, Im looking forward to it.
I will likely go at least a year without hitting a golf ball. Probably longer. And I fully expect to break 85 when I return.

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