Saturday, June 18, 2016

Our annual family golf outing is in a week . . .

And although I'm the guy who organizes it, I'm in no shape for it.

So yesterday evening, realizing I couldn't just hit some of the most beautiful and demanding courses in Michigan cold, I went to the range with my six-year-old. We shared a medium bucket. Although I was once a golf team guy (not nearly one of the best, mind you, but at least on the team), it was the first time I'd swung a club in close to a year. I started slowly, with an 8-iron. Scootz, joyfully, tried out our kid-sized set in the stall to my right. (She was well-mannered; she was terrific.)

As I worked my way through the set, the results weren't great. They weren't horrible, but they weren't great, and that was to be expected—I'll put in some more time before next Friday. It's not that I want, or expect, to shoot lights-out next weekend. I just want to be able to enjoy myself. This outing is with family. There's no real competition. No gambling. No pride on the line. This is uncles, cousins, in-laws, close friends—most of us Italian American—and we all, at this point in our collective lives, stink at golf.

My dad—a man who, for as long as I can remember, certainly prioritized golf, playing, spring through autumn, at least twice a week—started this outing back in the 70s with three of my uncles. In the 80s, once we were old enough, the outing started to include the cousins. Then, once we started marrying, it included in-laws. At one point, in the 90s, we had 24 guys and a waiting list.

Today, my father is the last of his generation still with us. Factoring in health issues, obligations, and, golf's declining importance in our families, we're lucky if the 16 remaining regulars can make it.

But when we can we eat and drink like kings (pasta, salsiccia, and steak with amogio; beer, vino, bourbon, Disaronno, etc.) and listen to music and play cards and hang out and make each other laugh like we did when we were kids, when our mothers would bring us together practically every other weekend. Without this outing we'd more than likely only see each other on Christmas Eve and at weddings and funerals. Like everybody else in this world, as time goes by it takes more and more for us to organize some kind of event where we can get together—a ballgame or a concert or dinner or whatever. We have stuff—spouses, kids, careers, commitments. We're also getting older. And more easily tired.

So I'll go back to the range today—either by myself or with one or two of my kids—and tomorrow and the next day and the next until I'm content with just how badly I'm going to stink. And Friday morning, despite all the practice, when I shank or skull or top or hook or block fade that first drive and experience the laughter of the guys around me, I will not take that moment for granted.

It'll be a privilege.

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