My Great Mini-Golf Match


I took my two sons ' 9- and 14-year-old basketball lovers just starting to express real interest in the ancient game ' miniature golfing. Both are hotly competitive and prone to the occasional temper flare-up, meaning Id have to pull out Dad Lecture No. 183, the usual blather about sportsmanship and controlling your emotions.
Forget the fact that with the dozens of jagged-edged, spear-like broken irons sitting in my garage, Russell Crowe would have enough weaponry to take out a half dozen lions in a Gladiator sequel. Ive grown out of that phase after 46 years, now hoping to raise mild-mannered Larry Mizes not raging Tommy Bolts.
Like a lot of dads, I use a couple of methods to enforce Lecture No. 183. First, I call upon Tiger Woods.
Sure, Tiger gets upset when he hits a bad shot, but do you think he lets it affect him on the next one? Ive been using Tiger for years. Tiger Woods brushes his teeth before he goes to bed. Or, You think Tiger Woods spent his days watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? No, he was out practicing.
Naturally, if the Tiger tactic doesnt work, I resort to the simple bribe. So, prior to the mini-golf match pitting my wife and me against the two boys, the offer was two bucks for the player exhibiting exemplary sportsmanship.
Weve played quite a few miniature golf or putt-putt courses this summer. What I find most fascinating is just how well that merry band of men known as pirates transitioned so successfully from plundering the high seas several hundred years ago to dominating the miniature golf business in the United States.
We played Pirates Cove, Pirates World, Buccaneer Bay, High Seas Adventure, Blackbeards Best and the Jolly Roger.
In any event, our match began with an ace from yours truly. Kids hate to get beat by Dad at that age, but amazingly I got high-fives from both boys, leading me to think that Lecture No. 183, or the bribe, was going to work.
By the 11th hole, with the parents 3-up in a best-ball, match-play format the youngsters were beginning to crack. I heard phrases like, Golf is so unfair and How can you play this stupid sport so much? I implored the guys to hang in and explained the story of Brookline in 99.
Sure enough, my 9-year-old responded with a hole-in-one. They were 2-down with renewed hope. Then I started to get lifty with my stroke as I too often do, shoving 3-footers 5 feet past. They pulled even with two to go. Now they were chatty and chipper, the way golfers get when things are going their way. I heard things like, Daddy can we play golf tomorrow? and Who was better Dad, Orville Moody or Rod Funseth?
Finally at the 17th, my oldest came up large with a hole-in-one. Theyd taken the lead with really no hope for the grown ups. My biggest beef with miniature golf is that the 18th is usually an automatic two. They make it nearly impossible to get an ace and the accompanying free game. And so the boys defeated Mom and Dad, 1-up. I forked over two bucks per player.
As we headed to the parking lot late into the night, the kids heard me muttering, I dont understand how they can design such a lousy finishing hole?
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