The Most Important Lesson Dad Taught Me About Golf MEMORIES ON THE FAIRWAY
The first time I beat my dad in a round of golf, we were on vacation in Colorado. When it came to golf, my brothers and I always had a friendly competition with our dad — because he would never let us win, no matter how young we were. For years, after every game was over and he claimed victory yet again, he’d joke around, making us shake his hand while he said, “Good job,” or “Nice try!” I’ll never forget the day the tables finally turned. I had Dad beat when we went into the last hole. He hit the shot, and it flew into the woods, bounced off a tree, and landed back on the fairway. It came down to a 40-foot putt that I’d seen him make many times before. But victory was ultimately mine, and I beat him by a stroke. I rubbed it in a little and made him shake my hand. He smiled and took it well. He had known the day was coming. “Golfing will always remind me of my dad because he’s the one who got my brother and me into the sport.” The loss may have been a little easier on my dad because my older brother beat me to the punch years before! My brother was a pretty good golfer in his younger days, and it made for hot competition between him and my dad. Once my brother reached the peak of his golfing skills, he usually beat my dad more often than not.
Golfing will always remind me of my dad because he’s the one who got my brothers and me into the sport. We’ve been golfing our whole lives. Dad was a high school teacher and coach, and though basketball was his love, he made a point to teach my brothers and me how to play golf, too. He told us, “There’s going to come a time when you can’t run the bases or move up and down the court like you’d like to, but you can always get out there to golf and get competitive with the handicap.” Dad played golf long after he could no longer hustle on the basketball court. In fact, he bought a new set of clubs soon after he turned 80. Dad taught us about form and strategy, but the most import thing he taught me about golf is that 50 percent of the game is a mental exercise. Great golfers have the right frame of mind to handle anything that happens on the course. They know what they’re capable of. If they hit a bad shot, they’re able to shrug
it off and move on without letting the mistake psych them out and ruin their game.
If you want to be better at golf, get into the right state of mind. Accept that you’re not going to be Tiger Woods, and don’t try to compete with the pros. Instead, find what you are capable of and compete with yourself. Focus on trying to break 100, 90, or whatever your personal best might be. Half the fun of golf is doing more than what you were capable of last year. For a while, it felt like the last winter would never end. My clubs were still in the basement until almost the end of April! But the weather has finally cleared up, and I’m looking forward to spending time in the sun and working on my handicap. My dad gave me the tools to enjoy this game for the rest of my life, and I’ll remember him each time I grab my clubs and head to the course. –Dr. Stuckey
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