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.