I think most golfers have a bucket list of a few places they would love to play before it’s too late. Although I can’t play there, I have always wanted to visit Augusta National and The Masters one April. I think most golfers understand Augusta is a “visit only place.” And with incredible luck enjoyed by my friend Don, this is the year. This year his lottery ticket at The Masters came up.
Don and I are going to the practice round with Don’s son, Derek, and his nephew, Brendan. It should be a couple of days to remember always for all of us. Oh, and yes, we will play a couple of rounds of golf in nearby areas. Among the things I am really happy about is that Don will be there with his son, on his son’s birthday too. What a blessing for them.
As I was thinking of that, it dawned on me that I will be at Augusta on the 35th anniversary of my dad passing away. My dad was a great golfer, and taught me about the game and how to play it. He also gave me the gift of understanding that any game, especially golf, worth playing was there to be enjoyed. “Fun is fundamental” he used to say. I still think that’s a great line. He also taught me that golf is a game that can only be played, never won and that your only opponent was always the course. Upon further review, he was right again. So it seems the date is serendipitous for Don and for me. I’ll consider it a blessing too.
I don’t know if my dad ever made it to Augusta to watch The Masters. I wasn’t old enough to even think about asking him that kind of thing back then. I was just happy he took me to play and teach me golf. And that he came to my football and basketball games and track meets when I was at Roehm Junior High School. Then he’d usually take just me and him out to The Brown Derby for a steak. And sometimes we would go to a Cavs, or Indians game. You bet I’m thankful for that, and the fact that I didn’t mind spending time with my dad when many kids may have elected otherwise at that time of their lives, which is understandable. Something was directing me then, and I'm glad because suddenly he just wasn't there anymore.
But I’ve decided one thing about this venture to The Masters. He’s going with me. It’s impossible not to have him with me there at golf’s greatest palace. I think I’m going to find something to place in my pocket that once was his, and is now mine, just to remind me that fathers and sons can still do things together, even if the manner in which is possible now, isn’t what our first choice would ultimately be.
It will be great for all of us but especially for Don and Derek to be there together. And what will be really fun for me is watching them “get it.” That what they are doing that day is special, once in a lifetime stuff. Stuff that they and we will all remember and savor for the next, what I am hoping for them is three and half decades ahead.