So, this is one of the blogs that got eaten up when my website got hacked by the same people that derailed the Clinton campaign. I’m not sure why we were the only two targets of their vicious cyber attack, but I am glad to say I was able to recover what is one of my all-time favorite stories of my life.
Never Tangle with Old Lions
My senior year in high school was probably one of the greatest years of my life. My school offered a co-op program, where if you worked, you only went to school half a day. Not only did my best friend, Chris, and I work together at the same place, our parents were members of the same country club. So, most every day of my senior year, I was out of school at 11:30, and on the golf course with my best friend by 1:00. Needless to say, we became pretty good golfers, considering the course we played is one of the hardest in the country. I was, however, not my high school valedictorian.
Chris’ father, Craig, and my stepfather, Tom, were buddies. Although they had different schedules, they still managed to get together and compare Chris and I’s stories about where we were and what we were doing. Craig typically only played on the weekends, when Chris and I were working to keep up enough hours to be eligible for co-op, so the 4 of us almost never played together. Thats why it was a big deal when we all finally had a chance to get together on a Saturday and play a round.
Standing on the practice tee, the game was established: Best Ball. Match play. Old Lions versus Young Lions. For you folks that don’t know golf vernacular, that means that the best score from the two players was the score for the team for that hole. Each hole was a point, no matter how many strokes you lost by.
Now, Like I said, Chris and I considered ourselves to be really good golfers at this point. My stepdad, Tom, was a low single-digit handicap (really good), and Craig wasn’t far behind. Both men had been playing golf longer than Chris and I had collectively been alive, but for some reason, we were still confident.
We made it through the first 9 holes and were miraculously only 2 holes behind going to the #10 tee box. Chris hit a drive that I don’t think landed until we got halfway down the fairway, and we won #10. Number 11 ended up being a tie due to a couple of incredible shots from the young lions, and we approached #12 with a lot of confidence.
#12 at this country club is a long par 3 with a 3 tiered green the size of a small house that is an almost complete island. Its the second hardest hole on the course if I remember correctly. The pin placement for that day was right dead center of the middle (highest) tier so if you hit it short you had an Everest-climb of a putt. If you went over, you’d go off of the back of the green and into the water. I stepped up and represented my team well by doing exactly that – my ball was squarely in the water. Craig teed off next and hit a shot right in the big, fat, juicy middle of the second tier, 15 feet from the flag.
The old Lions were looking at an easy 2-putt par, so Chris stepped up and threw an absolute dart about 5 feet from the pin. The young lions were looking to tie things up, and go into the stretch of the last few holes with the potential for a win. There was a lot of high-fiving and smack talking from the young lions. maybe even a little bafoonery. Tom was unimpressed. In fact, not only did he ignore us, he had this smirk
Tom, very calmly as always, stepped up and hit a shot, that from the tee box, looked pretty good. It was on a good line to the pin, but we never saw it bounce. Even as we were driving to the green we could only see two balls on the green. We just assumed that Tom’s ball took the same flight path as mine, and went off of the back of the green. Still it was odd that we never saw it bounce. Walking to the green, we were discussing the lost ball, when I said, jokingly, Hey Chris, check the cup. As he did, he looked up and said “No F#cking way…”
This wasn’t a good golf shot. This wasn’t a great golf shot. This was one in a million. The ball hit nothing but the bottom of the cup. Tom, who’d been anxiously awaiting Chris’ findings, simply said “right where I was aiming”, grabbed his ball, and walked away. To say that the young lions were deflated would be like saying a lead brick isn’t seaworthy. I don’t think we even finished the round.
So, I have a confession to make: this isn’t really a story about golf. This is an opportunity to share with you all how amazing of a man Tom really is, and always has been in my life. Its about having the opportunity to live the life I have because he’s been in it. This is the man that instilled a love for golf at a young age by holding onto a country club membership that he never used, just so I could play golf growing up. This is a man who’s love for my mother is inspirational.
Ill never forget, right after my mom had a major back surgery Tom refused to leave her side. Even 6 weeks into her recovery he wouldn’t take any time for himself, other than to go to the store or pharmacy. One day I was there, and I said, Tom, please, just take a day and go play golf. Get out of the house, you need a break. He looked at me and very politely said, Im fine. I don’t want to not be here. Yep, Im crying too, just typing that.
Tom and I have never been overly-emotional with each other like my Father and I have been throughout the years. Looking back, I know that I don’t give him enough credit for the amazing man that he has been for my sister and I, and for his daughters and their children. He’s put up with so much of my crap, its amazing that he still talks to me.
When I think about it, I remember a time when I was in a very dire situation and he let me use his Tahoe for a couple of weeks when I lived in East Texas. As I was walking out the door to head back home, I stopped him and thanked him again for helping me out in such a huge way, and he simply said, thats what Dads do. You’ve never been more right, Tom. And you’ve done so much.
Thank you, and I love you.