Baseball is America’s pastime. Baseball is also Landon’s pastime. It all started out playing Wattle’s Park tee ball when I was a youngin at the age of six. I remember my first year of kid pitch at the age of 8, when the team lost every single game. I also played on The Bosker Brick Panthers with many of my school buddies for years, one year we went far into the league tournament. Finally, one my greatest years of baseball when I joined the B.C. Rebels between the ages of 12 and 14. This group of guys was always fun to play with and we had a few really good teams, winning multiple tournaments over the years. During the summer I slept, ate, and breathed baseball.
It was mid-spring of my eighth grade year and a thought hit me like a bullet. I thought to myself, “damn, this baseball thing is a pain in my ass. I want to live out my summer and actually have fun with it.” What I realized was that for the last 14 years of my life I had given up almost every summer to a sport that I really did not love; the only sport that I truly loved at the time was hockey. I wanted to go on vacations, I wanted to go to our family lake houses, I wanted to hang out with the boys. Baseball had been keeping me from doing this for the past 14 years and I was just now realizing it. I was not going to be playing on the Rebels again that next summer anyways, due to the fact that I missed the biggest tournament of the year to go to Florida the previous season. I did not want to join and new team and meet a bunch of new people when I knew I would not have fun playing the game even if it was with people I enjoyed to be around. It did not take me long to decide that I was done with baseball forever, I did not want to play that summer and I knew I was never going to want to play again.
A few months went by and it was mid June. School had just gotten out the week before and summer vacation was off to a great start. No baseball practices or games gave me all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted. Quickly, I realized that life without baseball got really boring during the weekdays when I was home for consecutive hours on end. This lasted for about two weeks of summer where I was doing nothing but sleeping and laying on the couch in my boxers. By this time it was near the end of June, and one day my dad came home from one of his many golf outings that he plays in during the summer. That particular outing happened to be at Riverside Golf Club, and he said to us, “Chris cut us a deal that I could not resist on a family membership.” At the time I had no idea but this was one of the best days of my lives.
I had no intentions of actually golfing for real at the time. In fact, I only went to the course probably around 6 or 7 times that summer. Every time I went I did not “play” golf, I just hit the ball around and drove the cart while my dad was actually playing. That winter my best friend Alex and I were talking about how we need to do something this spring after hockey was over. After a very short discussion we decided that we would join the high school golf team. We got free golf every single day, we missed literally one full day of school every single week, and we got to play at some of the area's best and most prestige courses. In our minds there was no way that any other school sport would beat that. Before the season, I had golfed one time with Alex the previous year. I guess you could not even call it golfing; we did not keep track of strokes, we both were awful, and we lost more balls than there were number of holes.
That spring arrived and we had no idea what to expect of the team or the sport in general. We had our first golf meeting and all I can remember from the meeting to this date is how terrified I was of the coach. Being at least 70 years old, he sounded as if he smoked 20 packs a day. I would later find out that he definitely smoked close to that each day, much of it coming at practice while he was trying to talk to the team and coach us. Next came our first practice, it was in the gym and I was shocked that you could even practice golf inside. The following monday was the day that we had our first outdoors practice at the course. The weather was a frigid 50 degrees, the winds were blowing enough to knock someone over, and it was on the verge of rain. Coach Fred told us to go out and play nine holes, so that is what we did. The team rule was that you can not go over double-par and you always get at least 3 putts to try and make it. If you had to pick up and drop on the green due to the double par rule you would circle that score on the scorecard. That day I had 9 circles on my card. I was completely horrid, but unlike baseball, I actually had fun and was looking forward to the next practice. My freshman year, which was my first year playing golf for real, was absolutely terrible score wise; however, I had never had more fun with any sport I had ever played in my life. At the beginning of the season my score average was near 60. By the end of the season I dropped my average to 52.3 strokes per nine holes. These scores are awful so they were nothing to be proud about, I was so bad I should not have even been considered a golfer.
The school season was over and I had a blast with it. I wanted to get back on the course right away. I talked to my dad about the golf membership and he had decided that this year we were going to get a membership at Binder Park Golf Course. That summer, I was on the grind so hard. For the first time in my life I truly felt the urge to do better and get better at a sport. Trust me this was not an easy sport at that. I was on the golf course at least 4 times a week and when I was not at the course I was hitting balls into my net outside at home. All this work and I saw improvement little by little in things such as ball flight and putting, but when it came to scoring I was still lucky to shoot under 50. Near the end of the summer I got a job at Binder as a cart kid, as if I was not around golf enough in my life already.
Winter quickly came and I was so ready to get back onto the course, I dreamt about it every single day. Finally, spring came and we held our first practice. The conditions were near what they were for the first practice of the previous year. One thing did change this year though, there were no circles on my card. I shot a 48, which is still bad in the golf world, but I was more than happy with a 48, especially after only shooting below 50 once the previous season. Practices kept coming and so did the sub 50 scores and I was so happy to see that all that hard work over the summer had payed off. This time by the end of the season, my average had dropped to roughly 46 strokes per nine holes. At this point I was still so excited to be back on the course the second I had gotten off it. I realized this was a sport that would stick with me for the rest of my life. That summer, after the season, I went straight into grind mode again. This time I had my license so literally every single day I had open I made plans to be at the course playing. Most of the days that I worked I would go in early or stay late and practice by either hitting the range, putting and chipping, or playing a quick nine. My summers were being taken up again by a sport, but unlike baseball, I was having fun with it during every single second. By the end of that summer, which brings me up to today, my average nine hole score is roughly between 43 and 44. In my opinion, these scores are not terrible, but there’s definitely room for improvement. Currently, I am extremely happy with this average because to think in two years I went from shooting 60s to consistently shooting low 40’s. For never playing golf as a kid I would say that I picked up on it pretty darn quick, but there is no way any of it would have been possible if I had not put in so much hard work during my summers.
In the end, I realized it goes back to that day I decided not to play baseball anymore. If it were not for that, my summers would probably still be eaten up by baseball. As for golf, there was no distinct day in which it had changed my life. What I do know is that over the past two year each day I was getting better, and each day I began to like it a little more. It was okay that it was consuming my summers. I still was able to go on vacations, because I was not obligated to be at the course. To this day, I can truly say that golf is a sport that I not only like, but I love; every time I step onto the first tee box I get chills down my spine thinking how one sport could change my life in such an amazing way. Golf will be a part of me for the rest of my life, I love it.