My youngest son spent quite a few hours this winter playing the Playstation golf game Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09. He became quite proficient at the virtual world of golf, regularly scoring in the 40s for 18 holes, and as a result my son expressed an interest in playing the real game.
"C'mon dad - we can bond and stuff," I believe his sales pitch went.
Indeed, since starting graduate school in 2005, I spent less time with my son than I would have liked, and how can any father waste an opportunity to connect on some level with his son? We decided that first we would spend some time at the driving range.
Now, it has been a few years since I last golfed, in part because my kids wrecked a quite a few of my clubs by whacking rocks and leaving them out to rust in the winter. I thus needed to procure two sets of clubs, and I headed straight for the Goodwill store.
In short order I rifled through the rather sizable selection of donated clubs and pieced together two sets with bags for about $40 (pictured in the accompanying photo). As any sane parent will tell you, it is better to start a new sport on the cheap in case the eager teenager quickly loses interest.
Besides, even in my prime I was a ho-hum golfer, and I think I broke 100 on an 18-hole course exactly once. A round usually finds me in the 105-110 range, but I play for relaxation and not for blood or money, and not like a CEO or a Pleasanton motorcycle accident attorney. Then again, I suppose that is what a crappy golfer would say, but at least I do not wrap my sense of self-worth in my golf game, or I would have long ago stuck my head in a gas-filled oven.
So off we went to the driving range, me to shake off the rust and my son to learn why so many people hate the game. He quickly became a little frustrated with his inability to smash lengthy drives, though after 40 balls or so I coached him ("lock your left elbow!" and "keep your eye on the ball" and "knock off the Happy Gilmore shit") to the point where every other drive went 150 yards or so.
Me? I played my usual golf: lots of straight-and-true 200-to-250-yard drives, so-so putting, and God-awful work with the irons. "Drive for show, putt for dough," they say, but I only have the first part right. However, as any parent of teenagers will tell you, if you can wow them once in a while, you have their attention, and my son's fascination with my ability to look halfway-decent from the tee resulted in him giving me his last yellow balls to crush into the stratosphere.
As long as I never leave the driving range, I am once again deified in my son's eyes.