I went to the driving range the other day with my son and son-in-law. I was not there to work on my golf game. There’s no point in trying to resurrect that which has been long buried. But it was fun to hang out with the boys on a beautiful summer day.
I was sitting on a bench watching my two boys whack the ball with varying degrees of success when a father and son duo came to hit in on the section right beside us. The little boy was probably eight years old, and it seemed like the first time he ever hit a golf ball. The dad gave him some quick lessons and he hit these twenty-footers which elicited praise from the proud dad. I heard him say “We’ll need to do this more often.” It was fun to watch the father-son interaction.
Then it was the dad’s turn to hit. He smacked a couple – not particularly well struck. I know that for a fact because I am the master of not particularly well-struck golf balls. These hits flopped in the air well less than a hundred yards and plopped into the field of white-dotted balls. But the boy, he was over the moon every time his dad hit one of these “moon shots.” The boy would say things like “Nice shot!”, “Wow, that had some height on it.” “It almost made it to 100.” The boy was flabbergasted at his father’s ability. He was, in a word, in awe of his father.
It was a beautiful moment and made me think of a time when my dad and I went out into the big yard at my childhood home, and he was going to hit me some fly balls. I was probably 10 at the time, a young aspiring ballplayer. My dad was not athletic nor did he like sports. They didn’t interest him in the slightest. He would come to watch my games when he wasn’t working, and he took me to Three Rivers Stadium a time or two to watch my precious Pirates, but he did it for me. Not for his enjoyment. And that was the gist of this day as well. He was going to hit me balls so I could practice. I suppose I asked him to do it. I’m not quite sure, but he agreed.
Even though my dad wasn’t athletic, he was very strong. Always a hard-worker and he had huge hands and forearms. He could have been an athlete with his build. What I remember about this day is me running to the other side of our narrow long big yard, sided to the left by the garden -my dad kept in immaculate shape – and by the road to the right. My dad took the small wooden bat into his hands, tossed the ball in the air, and smacked it high into the sky. It went flying over my head and I just watched – in awe – to see the ball go so far.
“Sorry,” he said.
“It’s okay,” I replied.
It was okay. It was actually amazing. I was in awe that my dad could hit a ball that hard. I didn’t care that I had to chase after it across the road. I willingly did it, and I tossed it in and readied myself for the next hit.
Those are precious moments. The moments that matter. My dad turns ninety tomorrow, and I was glad of a simple reminder of the wonders of life just by watching a proud young boy watch his heroic father hit a golf ball less than a hundred yards.