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Friday, May 10, 2013

Back in the Game!

When I was in graduate school -- back when dinosaurs walked the earth -- my sons, Wes and Charlie, and I played golf every Sunday.  It was the cheapest thing I could find for us to do together -- fifty cents for the family (student ID required) to play 18 holes.  We all had clubs, we played with recycled water balls, and we walked.  Prairie dogs popped up here and there on the University of Oklahoma fairways when one of our balls disturbed them.  Wes, long, lean, naturally athletic even as a boy of 10, loved golf and over the course of my graduate studies he became a fairly proficient golfer.  Charlie did not love golf.  In fact, he hated playing golf every Sunday.  He did not become proficient and it's unlikely that he'll appear again in this blog except, perhaps, anecdotally.

When I finished graduate school and moved to South Carolina Wes and I continued to play golf, now at a local public course, The Golf Club at Star Fort, which remains my home course today.  We played together regularly and as I watched his drives soar past mine I discovered the exceptionally sweet joy embedded in mother-son golf.

Adolescence does strange things to the mother-son relationship and one day Wes broke my heart.  In a moment of utter defiance, a boy's action to claim his independence and autonomy, he tossed his golf clubs into the street and our rounds ended.  I put my clubs away and eventually sold them in a yard sale.  Wes was not my only golf partner, but golf had lost its joy for me.

Three decades passed and life went on.  I was getting ready for my annual trip to California to visit Wes and his family.  He called.  "Hey Mom," he chirped, "I hope you're ready to play some golf."  As though we had played our last round a week or so ago.   I hadn't played golf in 30 years, was 20 pounds overweight, hypertensive, and arthritic. Of course I was ready.

We played glorious golf.  I rented clubs and sacrificed all his water balls to those hidden places beyond the short grass.  We bought more balls and played another round, and another.  I came off the courses we played trembling with fatigue and fell into coma-like late afternoon naps.  I took so much ibuprofen I feared for the well-being of my liver.  And I remembered how much I love the game of golf.

"Are you going to pick up the game again when you get home?" he challenged me.  "You're a little rusty."

Of course I was.

"I'll buy you some clubs so I'll be sure you'll play.  You need practice."

I went home with a driver, a 5-wood and a hybrid.  I ordered irons.  Wes game me a discarded bag.  I bought shoes.  I signed up for lessons.  I was back in the game!