Father’s day has a new meaning for me since my father passed away in January 2009. When I was younger, it was a day to share with my dad, either on the golf course or just hanging around the house with the BBQ going. For the last 13 years since I moved to Florida, it’s simply been a phone call to Canada. Father’s day now is a day to reflect on the 30+ years of memories I have of me and my dad.
I still remember the first time I beat my dad at golf. I was on spring break from High School in upstate NY and I went to West Palm Beach to spend the two weeks in Florida. My folks were wintering there and I was looking forward to playing some good golf courses. During that trip I registered my first 300 yard drive, and on the last day of my trip we went to Royal Palm Beach golf club. It was a hot and humid day and neither of us were playing very well, but we came to the final hole tied. We both hit the green and my dad three putted. I snaked in a 4 footer to beat him by one. After some ribbing, he put his arm around me and congratulated me, and told me I was going to be a good player. I went on to become a pretty good golfer after all, with his support.
My final golf memory of my dad was a day when he and my mom came to watch me play in a local tournament a few years ago. I was somewhere in the middle of the pack on the final day, just trying to get to the clubhouse when my folks turned up to walk around the back nine with my group. I went on a tear, making a few birdies and smoking a drive on the final hole, a short par 5. I hit an 8 iron from 179 to the right side of the green, setting up a 35 foot eagle putt. With a crowd of 100 or so people waiting for the final groups to arrive, I lined up my eagle putt. It was pretty flat for the first 20 feet, then going down a slope and to the left about 2 feet to the hole. As my putt rolled over the crest of the hill, I knew it was on a good line and had a chance. As it rolled down the hill towards the cup, the crowd in the bleachers stood to get a better view. I started raising my putter in the air, and struck a pose as the ball rolled into the middle of the cup for an eagle and back nine 32. As the spectators roared, I looked over at my mom & dad, who had their hands in the air and a huge grin on their faces.
Even though I was out of contention, the cheers of the crowd and the looks on my parents’ faces was a huge thrill, and as it turns out, the last time my father and I were on a golf course together. My dad got me started in the game, and he supported me when I chose to make it my career. I’ll never forget the memories along the way, and every time I tee it up I think of him. Happy Father’s Day!
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