The Camaraderie of Golf

The Camaraderie of Golf

 Alistair Tait, the European golf commentator, quoted Grantland Rice from 100 years ago. “Golf is 20% mechanics and technique.  The other 80% is philosophy, humour, trajedy, romance, melodrama, companionship, camaraderie, cussedness and conversation.” Alistair was missing golf early on in the pandemic but, more so, missing the things that come with golf.  His blog worth a read. 

As I prepare to pack my bags for Phoenix to celebrate my oldest son’s 21st birthday; like Alastair, I am filled with memories and anticipation of all the great things that come with golf.  I learned much about my grandfather playing a 6-hole course with sand greens when I was young. We would drag a flat spot on the green and after putting, would rake a great perfect spiral in the sand leaving it for the next group; all the while talking about his life in Colorado. That seed sown, I moved to Boulder later when I graduated from college.  My father introduced my oldest son to golf which turned into many rounds, and phone calls between them and brought me back to the game.  Golf brings some of the same joy and camaraderie that our mountain adventures give us, but across generations and relationships and interactions with people in ways don’t compare on the same level.  My youngest son has found the connection to golf in the past year; the joy felt with the purity of a shot off the tee or to the green.  He has become good enough now to expect his shots to, well, do what he intends. As a result, he has discovered the depths of frustration that expectation when unmet and the deepening of it as he tries to fix “the problem” on the next shot and the next.  My response is “welcome to golf; and life.” 

      Both sons have seen golf reveal the character and the personality of adults; the veneer is worn free after the first few holes. A few swings at a little white ball summons all those things they are in their core versus who they pretended to be on the first tee. The comedy, the humility, the pride, the meltdowns. There are few endeavors where young people create a connection with adults on an equal field. Most of all, these two young men are learning to manage themselves; the first lesson of leadership. As Jack Nickolas roughly said; kids grow up a little quicker on a golf course. 

I have been rewarded with some of the best times I’ve spent with my boys on the course.  They’ve taught me about themselves, seen me in a quiet moment early in the morning, and a few holes later, invent new obscenities neither I nor they have ever heard.  Most of all it’s the camaraderie of playing the game together that I look forward to.  Seeing each other celebrate, and suffer, and joke and enjoy the connection go a little deeper. This week we will celebrate not just a 21st birthday with golf but a next game that is a step toward our next experience; maybe a next generation whatever that looks like, playing and living it as well. 

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