Posts Tagged ‘tradition’

I am not a golfer, unless you count the occasional round of miniature golf. I don’t have a patented swing, a pair of special shoes, a collection of polo shirts emblazoned with the names of famous golf courses. I don’t own a set of clubs.

But I spent hours this weekend, as I do every year, watching the Masters. (And cheering wildly at Adam Scott’s long birdie putt on the 18th hole, then holding my breath through the two-hole sudden-death playoff. What a finish!)

masters logo flowers

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

I know that for most non-golfers, watching golf is a dull prospect. Even my sports-loving husband is no golf enthusiast, though he’ll happily watch hours of baseball on TV (which I find unbearably slow, though I like going to games). When we started dating, I bemoaned his indifference to the one sport my dad loves above all others. You can’t spend even a weekend at my parents’ house without a discussion about golf.

When I was growing up, I thought everyone’s dads kept a couple of putters in the corner of the living room, handy for a bit of practice while dinner was cooking. My dad, though he spent lots of weekend days playing with my sister and me, usually kissed us good-bye and headed to the course on Saturday morning or on Sunday after church, slathering on sunscreen or pulling on a windbreaker, depending on the season. He wore the same tattered green and white stocking cap for many winters, till I knit him a striped one in the colors of my high school. Polo shirts make up a significant part of his wardrobe, and you can always find a copy of Golf World on the kitchen counter.

When Dad wasn’t at the course on the weekends, he’d turn on the TV to catch the tournament du jour: the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship, the British Open, lots of smaller competitions. I learned the names of the greats early on, chief among them Jack Nicklaus (“the Golden Bear”) and Arnold Palmer (“the King”). I spent hours watching them swing their clubs against long stretches of velvety green, shading their eyes to follow those tiny white balls through the deep blue sky. Nick Faldo, Ben Crenshaw, Gary Player, Greg Norman: these men were the giants of my childhood. I still cheer for Fred Couples and Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, because they are the players I know and love.

I never took to playing the game the way my sister did: Dad taught us both how, but only Betsy played competitively in high school. But Dad (who played in high school and college, and still boasts an impressive zero handicap) did instill in me his deep respect for the game. Having lived with a serious golfer for many years, I understand the skill and patience required for these men to play the way they do. I love that golf is a sport people can play for their entire lives. And I deeply admire many of the pros I grew up watching, who are good men as well as good golfers.

dad masters surprise

When my dad turned 50, my mom surprised him with tickets to the practice round at Augusta (above). They traveled to Georgia to walk the course, see the famous azaleas in bloom, watch the competitors prepare for the upcoming rounds of play. A framed yellow Masters flag now sits in my parents’ living room, next to the trophies Dad has won at various local tournaments.

Every year, around the beginning of April, Dad calls and says: Do you know what starts in a week or so? And I smile and lower my voice, and whisper reverently: The Masters.

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