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I’m standing on the sixteenth tee box at Cypress Point, awestruck and misty-eyed as I twist the sticky grip on my 2-iron. Allister McKenzie’s masterpiece, the greatest golf hole in the world, a 220-yard beast protected by the Earth’s jagged guts exploding out of the Pacific and plays into a wind howling like a tire bellied brat getting 2 crackers and a grape during snack time at fat camp. A tear rolls down my cheek, absorbing my life’s regrets before falling onto the grass where Ben Hogan once stood and, according to my caddy, a man from Des Moines with 3 car dealerships just last week went into cardiac arrest and soiled himself. These moments fuse to my limbic system with a tighter hold than a pair of truck nuts welded to the hitch of John Daly’s Dodge Ram. I take a deep breath. I address my ball. This is an appropriate round of golf.
Suddenly the sound of the wind bursts into an earsplitting pitch, and it sounds like … what’s that sound? … oh yes, the hair-raising screams of children at a birthday party when the rental clown sets himself ablaze lighting a roach off the stove. My nap is over. And, now that I have kids, is the dream of ever playing an appropriate round of golf, too?
Sure, a normal round only takes 4 hours. Doable. But an appropriate round takes all day. Now, before you think asking your wife for the whole day will go over like fart jokes at Sunday brunch, let me explain. For starters, you’re a man. And a good one at that. Look at you. Instead of doing “kicked in the balls” searches on YouTube, you’re on Fatherly sharpening your mad fatherhood skills. Secondly, your love of golf and the full-blown experience of an appropriate round fills your heart with joy, making you an even better man, if that’s even possible. I’m a father with 3 kids. And, yeah, finding the time is tough. But when you do find the time, and you will, do it right.
A Good Father’s Guide To An Appropriate Round of Golf
The Week Before: Set a tee time at your club or the best public course in town. You’ve got the whole day. Don’t blow it at a muni stuck behind a fratty fivesome playing beer-a-hole golf and lining up triple bogey putts like it’s Sunday at Augusta.
8:00 AM: Knock out the Saturday chores. Play with the kids. Enjoy the hell out of it. Hot shower and shave. Embrace your awesome wife. Kiss her goodbye.
10:00 AM: Get there an hour or 2 early and eat like a grown man. Sitting down. Ordering off a menu. Getting a Bloody Mary if needed. When was the last time you read The New York Times without dodging waffles? Immerse yourself in it until your group shows up. Then order another Bloody Mary.
12:00 PM: Check out the golf shop. Talk to the pro. Ask about the greens. Buy a hat. And if you want the staff to plant an ignition triggered bomb under your SUV, ask, “So, what’s the course record?” and start throwing high-fives.
12:15 PM: Stretch. There was a time when Americans suffered under the clumsy fist of Jimmy Carter and argued over who shot JR. That’s probably the last time you could touch your toes. Get on the ground, build some heat. This saves you 2 strokes a side. Not to mention the cost of a laminectomy.
12:30 PM: Take it to the range. Start with wedge, work up to driver. Nobody cares if you can air mail the 250-yard sign. Especially the smoking hot cart girl who has already sized you up with Terminator-like precision: Khaki shorts, loose golf shirt, wedding ring, no tan, thinning hair. Conclusion: Gross dad. Action: Do not engage! Do not engage!
1:00 PM: Roll some putts. A lot of them. No doubt you’ll be spraying drives OB and picking up more grass with your 8-iron than you did working the gate at a Phish concert. Putting is where history is made. And the money.
1:30 PM: Speaking of money, make sure those bets are lined up. Pots vary in size. Just agree on an amount you can lose so you’re not picking up Coast Guard brochures on the way home and hard selling a life at sea to your sixth grade daughter.
1:35 PM: You’re off and running now. No need to rush it. Play ready golf. Enjoy this. The metallic crack of the ball exploding off your driver. The trailing hiss of a well struck iron. The soothing plunk of the ball dropping into the cup. And, of course, the marvelous rumble of the drink cart. Scientific studies prove the sooner you realize you don’t have a tour card, the better. Closer the bar, closer to par.
5:30 PM: You sink your last putt. Wonderful. Shake hands and take it to the men’s grill. In a perfect world, the second half of Alabama/LSU is kicking off and you can work your way through a plate of nachos and a burger. Clear up the bets. Enjoy the company. And, most importantly, when the football game wraps up (no matter how brilliant it sounds to take it to another bar) call it a day. Don’t come home covered in glitter and smelling like a peach soaked in gas. Act like you’ve done this before. That way you can do it again.
7:30 PM: Stop off and get your cool wife some wine and flowers and let her know you’re bringing dinner home for the kids. Even so, don’t expect a hero’s welcome when you arrive. There might be a chill in the air. A chill, in fact, that could preserve the meat of a field dressed moose through a Michigan summer. That’s okay. It’s no different than you pouting around (you big baby!) after she’s had a well deserved girl’s night out. Ultimately, your good cheer and well being from playing an appropriate round fills your house with joy. And soon all is well. All is well, indeed.
Jason Carter is a writer, a native Texan, and a one-time New Yorker and Los Angeleno.