Thank You Dad

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I have always numbered among those that viewed Fathers Day as something of a contrived holiday. Shallow on historical precedent; something fabricated for commercial reasons.
 
However, my jaded perspective began to thaw after the death of my father over a decade ago and I lost the chance to participate in the trite ritual. My transformation was complete the first time I received a hand-made Fathers Day card from my oldest son, when he was just a pre-schooler. Immediately, my self righteous position was caught in the undertow of sentimentality, ushered by a tiny hand print and a misspelled message of Dad, I luv yu.
 
Count me among the converted.
 
I realize that golf is a game that has the ability to equally appeal to males or females, but for many, it is our fathers that stand like sentries at the gates of the game, ushering us into a life altering, and sometimes life defining, passion.
 
My father instilled in me a love for the game. He taught me to appreciate the more esoteric aspects of the game, those elements that are not played out in the form of 300-yard drives or birdie putts from down town. My father taught me that golf is a lifelong love affair. It begins with an infatuation, develops into a senseless love, and matures into a contentious, maddening, frustrating, exhilarating, fulfilling, and yet understanding kind of bond you see in an elderly couple in the park.
 
It is difficult to describe why the addicting game of golf is so endearing. I believe it is because the game allows us a glimpse of perfection. How often have you endured a horrible round, replete with proclamations of quitting the game, only to be saved by that one miraculous shot that keeps you coming back?
 
While that shot may not come with the same frequency for most of us as it does for the finest golfers in the world, the game does not discriminate in allowing our aspirations to perfection. Why, a first-time golfer could sink a sixty-foot triple breaker or chip in for par. Each of us has the capacity to hit a shot with the same results as the best the game has ever known.
 
Whats more, golf allows us the opportunity to sometimes perform those feats on the same golf course walked by the games legends. What other sport would allow such an experience?
 
In our quest to master a game that cannot be mastered, golf is foremost about self-discovery. A person is revealed to the world in a round of golf. Even more so, we are revealed to ourselves. Our character, integrity, and morality are all put to the test, and our ability to handle pressure is put to the fire. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, and if we are observant, each time we learn something new, something to keep us coming back.
 
It is for all of these reasons, and more, that golf is a game mirroring life. Golf is both a mystical journey of joy and sorrow and a physical journey of cause and effect. It is a game providing us with opportunities for wonderfully torturous choices ' take a chance and achieve supreme glory or wallow in dismal failure ' always with the promise of another day to try again.
 
To be a golfer is to be an optimist, for we all believe that our next round will be better than our last. We are always striving for more. In fact, it is the games elusive nature that makes it all the more appealing. Ultimately, the game leaves us with more questions than answers and presents a fascinating dichotomy that keeps golf fresh and new despite its ancient origins.
 
My dad was right. Golf truly is like a love affair, a journey of a lifetime.
 
Thank you, Dad.
 
Copyright 2006 Matthew E. Adams Fairways of Life
 
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Editor's Note: Matt Adams is a reporter for The Golf Channel, equipment expert, twenty-year veteran of the golf industry and speaker. In addition, he is a New York Times and USAToday bestselling coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and author of Fairways of Life, Wisdom and Inspiration from the Greatest Game. Fairways of Life uses golf as a metaphor for life and features a Foreword by Arnold Palmer. To sign up for Adams Golf Wisdom email quotes or for more information, go to www.FairwaysofLife.com.