2017 Top 10 ~ The Endless Summer of Golf (#5)

Last summer I rediscovered my love for the game of golf, and I had forgotten just how much fun it really was.  My parents introduced me to the game in my teen years, and I played a lot of golf in my twenties.  Golf in those days was and is much different than the game I played this past spring, summer and fall.  As a young man, these games would often get super competitive and would often also be for braggin rights and often money.  Rules were strictly enforced, and at times feeling got hurt.

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Golfing 10 years ago.

These afternoons in and around my Oakville Keg days were enjoyable, but were just a bit too aggressive for my tastes.  I will always be a player that will move their ball out of the woods, use the foot wedge if I am behind a tree and don’t really concern myself with every single rule that golf has to offer.  My goal this summer was to improve my game in all areas and to have fun, as much fun as possible.

Towards the end of my first marriage I had given up the game almost entirely, only playing once a year in the annual Keg manager’s golf tournament, and maybe another best ball tournament at some point in the year.  In other words, not much at all.  I discovered the sport of triathlon in my late 30’s and golf became something of the past, that once a year I would dust off my clubs, have a lot to drink and hope I didn’t end of crashing the cart somewhere along the way.

This spring I started playing at an executive course in Barrie called The Wilds.  It is a par 62 executive course with no hole longer than 250 yards, and no par 5’s in sight.  The price was also excellent, having a fall special of a round and cart for $30, and if you wanted to walk then $17 for the round.  There is a strong possibility of getting a membership there next summer, but perhaps it is time to graduate to a larger course…

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Always liked to be the first one on the course, just as the sun was rising.

This course also turned a blind eye if you wanted to have some extra fun while out of the course, and it was never busy at all.  A nice little family owned operation on the outskirts of Barrie, that if you didn’t know where the course was you might never know there is a golf course there at all as there is another public golf course right in front of it.

If I had to guess, I’d say I played between 40 and 50 rounds on that course over the last nine months and every single time was an adventure.  My golf partner of choice was my buddy Ryan, and over the summer we had some deep theological discussions about life, and the changes that we wanted to see happen in the future.  We played almost religiously every Wednesday afternoon and would often find ourselves back in my recreation room afterwards for several rounds of pool.

A few memorable rounds on the year included the time I challenged Ryan to a bowl a hole, back when I was stick smoking marijuana.  We made it to the 15th hole before we had run out but both of us managed to survive the round, and even played a little better on the last few holes.  The cab ride home that day was a lot of fun indeed!  It’s a shame that our pool games were quite off that night.

Another favorite round of the summer was actually two rounds I played back to back, you see I’ve learned this summer that Ryan keeps his own timetable.  I especially learned this lesson on this particular day, as I grew tired of waiting for Ryan and decided to head out for a round as I had gotten to the course early that day and after a few holes I ran into an elderly gentlemen we had met earlier in the summer.  He had offered us some tips during that meeting and suggested we play a round together at some point.

When I saw him that afternoon I skipped over a few holes and asked to join him.  We spent the next few hours talking about life and I learned a lot from Stu that afternoon.  He basically told me his life story, talked about his kids, his trouble with alcohol and overcoming his addictive and what his retirement plans where.  He played golf there almost everyday weather permitting and when the round was finished I said to myself if I could be in my 70’s still playing golf on a daily basis then I had done something right.

Ryan’s timing was excellent as just as I was finishing up he arrived for our round, and off we went.  We caught up to another old timer, Len in his 80’s at the 4th hole and we politely asked if we may play through, and he surprised us by asking if he could join us.  Ha ha, so for the second time today I played a round of golf with a complete stranger.  Len wasn’t as talkative as Stu had been but also shared his views on life and golf throughout the afternoon.  By the time I had finished my two rounds for the day I realized that I had been very blessed that day as it taught me a very valuable lesson.

I would always fear going to social events, and not having anyone to talk with.  These rounds of golf with two relative strangers taught me that I could do just that.  Both of their outlooks on life, and the fact they were still playing golf into their retirement years was great to see.  Both gentlemen had a great outlook on life, and generally nice positive men.  I felt very lucky that afternoon.

Another great thing I really enjoyed about The Wilds golf course was both the beauty of the course, especially first thing in the morning.  There was always flowers in bloom throughout the year and we were quite surprised to see Trilliums early in the season, and almost every round Ryan and I would go turtle hunting.  Often finding the little guys laying out on logs floating in the water warming themselves in the sun.  Above is perhaps the largest turtle we found on the course, and the picture doesn’t quite do it justice.

Towards the end of the summer and into the fall seasons, I didn’t have my younger kids on the weekends.  I started to play on Saturday and Sunday mornings as soon as the sun would rise making sure that I was the first one on the course and would generally end of playing two rounds in a row for several weeks.  My goal towards the end of the season was to break 70 on that course, and I was never quite able to do it.  I scored a 71 on three separate occasions and the goal will be to crack 70 at some point next year.

I believe that the recent mental clarity I’ve found will be the last piece of the puzzle to putting it all together.  Today marks 40 days since I last smoked marijuana and over the past few weeks I’ve have noticed a remarkable improvement in my pool game, and I suspect that I will find similar results the next time that I play golf.

Golf is a game that I look forward to introducing my children to, any of them that show any interest towards it.  I really hope that Austin becomes a fan as I can envision many great father and son games over the years.  I will take no mercy on him just like my own father would do when we played together.  It too many tries and many years to finally beat my Dad but that is a story for another time.

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