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During a visit to a shrink a while back, I spent way too much time talking about golf before coming to the altogether healthy conclusion that my money would be better spent on another sort of therapist: a PGA teaching pro. The psychiatry wasn't a complete waste of time, however. The guy might not have known Ben Hogan from Hulk Hogan, but he knew something that I didn't--that my talking about golf was really a way of talking about my father. � Three years ago, when my father was about to turn 70, my sisters and I returned to my parents' home to help throw a surprise birthday party at his beloved country club in Eugene, Ore. In my toast I talked about how I had always loved being on the course with him, just the two of us. It must've been a pretty good speech. I'd never seen my father cry before, and there he was in tears. � So what was so problematic about golf, and my relationship with my father vis-�-vis golf, when the game had, for the most part, been a source of happiness? � "For the most part?" I can hear the psychiatrist repeating. I wasn't simply talking about golf. I was talking about something equally baffling. I was talking about love.
I thought a lot more about these connections a few months later, when I took my father on a golf trip to Scotland. In anticipation I had worked on my game, reading old instruction books and retooling my swing with a pro. From experience I knew that the better I played, the better company I would be.
As a kid I had often heard that I had a nice swing. Problem was, I had a lousy temperament. Visiting my parents a few years ago, I got to talking with my dad about the sports I'd played as a kid. "Wiffle ball!" I said, joking. "That was my sport!"
"You can be a good golfer," my dad said.
Can, not could have been. As in, It's not too late.
"Give it up, Dad," I said. "I'm almost 40. It ain't going to happen."
"You have a nice swing," he said. "You simply--"
"No, you make it more difficult than it has to be."
I let it go. I wanted to believe that I had made my peace with�golf.