“So what’s your handicap?”
“You must be pretty good huh?”
“Trying to play today?”
“When was the last time you got out for a round, you been playing much?”
I try my best to politely duck each question. I’ll mutter some vague response or redirect the conversation to anything but myself. Answering honestly would require more time than the asker ever thought about wanting to give me. I’d like to answer honestly, I’m ready to talk about why I haven’t touched a club since preseason football, or release the monologue I’ve been internally professing in the shower every morning. I want to wax poetic about my life, my professional position and my health both personally and professionally, but I’ve paradoxically had the desire but not the motivation, or the motivation but not the setting. But after five months of silently shouting my struggles to the void of my psyche I’m ready to come back. I’m ready to pull out the clubs, (the quiver as my late uncle referred them) that I’ve bent, willed, and finally molded to and find my place at the tee again. I might just be a lowly club pro, but I’m ready to return to golf and I’m ready to share this journey with my readership.
I didn’t realize it until she passed, but for me, golf and my mom are fundamentally connected. She introduced me to the game, was my sole instructor for almost twenty years, gave me the foundation for my knowledge, and, when I decided to make golf my professional pursuit, my greatest motivation. Everything about golf for me came back to her. When I was playing and teaching well she was the first person I wanted to share it with. When I got low, when I questioned if what I was doing was the right move, if I was really equipped for this life, she was who I turned to for guidance and reassurance. She gave me the resources for my teaching philosophy and was never more than a quick text away for a brainstorming session when I needed new ways to reach clients.
Golf was also a way for my mom to speak about my dad. Even more than myself golf bound itself to my dad’s soul. Throughout her life she used golf as a platform to, when she was ready, reveal things about him and give me more insight into the man I lost when I was three. Thanks to the game she gave me memories and stories of someone whose voice I only know because of recordings. Golf was therapeutic for us, a comfortable setting to discuss a topic that both fractured and cemented our relationship.
Finally, golf was my ticket to giving my mom the life she deserved. It was going to be with golf that I was going to go to her one day and tell her not to work anymore, tell her to get her things and come live with me and let me love her and provide for her in the way she had for me. Golf was a clear path to alleviating the financial obligations in my mom’s life, it gave me a reason to wake up and push down the perpetual and overwhelming guilt I felt for being such a monetary burden for her.
I lost all of that five months ago. Now if I want to share some good news, like the teaching job I’ve had for the past couple months, I can’t text the number I’ve texted for the past eleven years. If I do some random guy will answer. If I’m feeling low and wondering if my pursuit of golf is as fruitful as a goldfish trying to climb a tree I don’t have the same person I’ve always gone to, the person whose known me from my first moment of existence, who breathed life into me and watched my development better than I ever did. I lost any connection to my dad. I won’t find out any more anecdotes, I won’t learn anything new. My chance for reparation is gone. Now I’m stuck with the guilt of my burdening my mom for the rest of my life. I waited too long and I’ll never be able to thank her or repay her the way I intended. For the last five months golf was nothing but a bitter reminder of the part of my life that was gone. It served as no more than a constant pain I’d watch countless participants abuse and take for granted all while I seethed over losing my chance to harness it for good, for love and for charity.
But I’m slowly getting better. I can’t really explain why but I woke up one day liking the game considerably more than when I went to bed the night before. I longed for the chance to wield a club, to step to a tee box and feel the entirety of the meaning of the game wash me in all its good, all its struggle and reward. Maybe it’s a coming to peace with what I lost, a reconciliation of what will never be and an acknowledgment that there’s still more that could. I don’t know how long it will last, all I know is I’m ready to be back.
For as much as I waxed poetic about golf being central to my financial livelihood I do still harbor a keen interest in the potential of my writing as a means of existence. So if you’d like to nurture that fantasy please click the link below.