This past week, another class of Hall of Fame inductees accepted their spots in golf’s greatest shrine. Two of those inductees, Davis Love III and Lorena Ochoa, have very different relationships between their golf and their families.
Davis learned the game from his father, Davis Jr., who was an accomplished golfer in his own right. Golf pervades that particular family.
It’s part of who they are.
Davis III’s son Dru just played in his first U.S. Open this year, and Davis welcomed his granddaughter Eloise to the stage during his acceptance speech and told her, ““Maybe someday you’ll play in a U.S. Open. That’s up to you. But whether you do or don’t, I hope the game I know and love will be there for you as it was, and as it is, for me.”
Meanwhile, Ochoa quit golf in 2010 at just 28 years old – in what may have been the prime of her career – to start her family, and says it was the best decision she’s ever made, calling herself the “luckiest woman in the world.”
For me, it’s kind of part way between those two things.
I’ve told the story here before about how I started, but I’ll give you the Coles Notes version again.
I hounded my dad for a long time to bring me with him when he went golfing with his friends. I didn’t know what they were doing, exactly, when they ran off for a few hours on the weekend, but based on what golf looked like on TV, I thought it would be fun.
Eventually he gave in and bought a cheap set of junior clubs for me out of the Sears catalogue and stuck them in an old bag (probably picked up at some garage sale), and brought me along.
It led to a life-long love affair with the game.
But my son doesn’t seem interested, which is totally fine. I’m not going to make (all of) his decisions for him.
What I am going to do, however, is pass on the lessons I learned from the game, thanks to my dad giving in and bringing me along.
You see, I grew up in Southwest Saskatchewan. We played golf in what were basically dead fields that couldn’t grow anything but sparse tufts of grass. Whoever owned those fields had brought in some sand to spread into circles, a few golf pins and cups to put in the middle of those circles of sand, and put a box up on a fencepost in which people would put their green fees before playing.
“What’s keeping people from just playing without putting any money in the box?” I asked my dad, genuinely confused about why he was putting a few bills in the box when there was nobody around to make sure he did so.
The answer has stuck with me. I don’t remember the exact words he used, but that’s not important.
He said, more or less, that it’s what you when nobody is watching that make you who you are, and it’s important to be honest. When you use someone’s golf course, you pay them for the privilege, whether you have to or not.
“But it’s an empty field with some flags stuck in the ground.”
It didn’t matter. It was the right thing to do.
That’s what golf is about, for me. That’s what life is about. It’s about doing what’s right, even when there’s nobody watching.
And if I’m successful in passing that on to my son, I’ll call it a win, whether he ends up playing this game or not.