The Last Time I Golfed

December 9, 2009
Stepping outside of the White Pines Golf Dome, I saw my breath as I exhaled into the cold late November air. My father and I walked to the car across the long parking lot, away from the driving range. My clubs were heavy on my shoulders and I wished we had parked closer. After putting my bag in the trunk, I sat in the passenger seat and undid the velcro on my golf glove to reveal red marks opposite of my knuckles foreshadowing the blisters to come. I clenched and unclenched a fist, then reached for the seat belt as we pulled out onto Rt. 83 towards home. Red Light.

“Wait ‘till mom hears I finally drove it 200 yards.” and without turning he responded

“You need to keep your head down and your shoulders squared, or you’ll never hit it any farther.” Green Light. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and while other kids had spent their Wednesday off playing pick-up games of football or going to the movies, I had furiously pounded small white balls at a huge white canvas dome wall. Red Light.

“Next summer, I’m going to be able to beat my friends.”

“What does Spencer shoot?”

“In 9? Well, usually in the upper 40’s.”

“That’s pretty good.” Green Light. I spent the rest of the drive looking out at the road, watching the expanse between gas stations whiz past and the white dome getting smaller and smaller in the side view mirror.

Clenching and unclenching my blistered fist, I again reached for my seat belt and strapped myself down for our family’s annual car ride to my grandparent’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. My father, mother, brother, two sisters and I got comfortable for the hour long car ride to the country. From my spot in the back seat, I listened to my and my father’s golf clubs clank together in the trunk, where we had left them after getting home the day before. I turned to look. My standard set of clubs, housed in an unadorned blue shoulder bag stood in stark contrast to my dad’s, surely the latest in golfing technology. They clanked and clanked. I turned back and announced to the car

“Yesterday I was hitting the ball farther than ever. I hit it to the 200 yard mark. I was putting well too.”

“Good job!” My mother exclaimed. My brother gave me a similar expression. I looked at dad, focused on the interstate. My mother elbowed him lovingly.

“Hear that honey, we’ve got a star golfer in the family.” she said.

“I’m going to call Kevin about giving him lessons.” he retorted. I could feel the clanking in my throat. “Sean, I was thinking it was about time we got you some new clubs and into the dome too.”

“Cool! Can I pick them?” He nodded. “Sweet.” My little brother then turned from his seat next to me and reached over the trunk and picked out a ball from the side pocket of my father’s golf bag and examined it happily for the rest of the drive.

After the initial hugs and “How have you been’s?” upon arriving at my grandparent’s doorway, my family joined my grandparents and the extended family in the house. As is the American way, the men watched T.V., while the women worked tirelessly in the kitchen. I sat down on the couch in front of the big screen and began watching someone play the Lions. My grandpa sat down in between my father and I on the couch and lovingly slapped my knee, as is his fashion. It is the type of couch that allows for little friction and makes noises when you shift. Noticing my grandpa putting a coaster under his Miller Genuine Draft my father turned to me

“Michael, what are you doing? You always put a coaster under your drink.” I immediately lifted my soda can off of the coffee table to reveal a small circle of condensation. My dad turned and looked straight at his father.

“Always use a coaster. People just don’t take care of their furniture anymore.” My grandpa lamented. I turned to look at the drink in my father’s hand, and the empty expanse of coffee table in front of him. He discretely got up and put his drink upon the nearby granite countertop.

Some time after dinner, the three of us found ourselves seated upon the couch again. Amidst the room’s conversation, my grandfather asked about the how my father’s job was going. They were both in the insurance business. My father, the CFO of an insurance company told him things like how financing a new client would be risky, and about how the company’s stock was going up or some other impressive statistic about claims.

“It even looks like we may finally be going public.” he said with a glimmer of childish enthusiasm in his eyes. Not turning his face to meet dad’s, my grandpa responded with a stoic “Hmm.” My father’s now sullen eyes looked away, out the window, and stayed there for a while.

I got up to go to the bathroom and, on my way saw this picture of my dad when he was a kid. He’s standing outside at a golf course with his clubs slug over his back, just heavy enough on his tiny frame to make him lean forward a bit, under the weight. His face was smiling and sunburnt. He used to go out every day in the summer and play 36 holes, and even tried out for his college team when he was studying insurance business. He was one of the youngest executives of a major insurance company around and one of the best golfer’s I’d ever seen. I looked back, and saw him and my grandpa sitting silently on the couch and wanted to leave.

After pulling into our driveway, my family exited the car and went into the house, leaving my father and I alone in the cold autumn air. We walked behind the car, to the trunk where our clubs were. As he popped the trunk open I turned to my father

“I don’t want to play golf anymore. I’m not getting better and I don’t like it.” Initially surprised by the remark, my dad stood there for a few seconds and then looked me right in the eyes.

“Alright.” he said.

We walked through the open garage door. He put his clubs in the middle of the garage, I went and put mine in the corner.

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