THE ONLY TIME IN MY LIFE I played a round of golf is when I didn’t make it to the ninth hole.
I ran out of balls before I ran out of holes.
That was back in my college days, when Mom and I were both going to Kent State University—me for news journalism, Mom for special education.
Mom had to take a phys ed class, so she picked golf, of all things.
She asked me to go with her to play a required round on her own, with a partner.
I can’t remember how many holes I managed to find, but it wasn’t enough.
My son fell in love with golf during the summer before his senior year in high school, when he worked at a nearby golf course.
Once, I rode the course with him, watching him golf. But I didn’t try to hit the ball. Why bother? I’d just spin it out into the woods.
We had a family reunion of sorts last Saturday. Family came to our house from Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado.
They came to celebrate the birthday of my wife’s mother, who lives nearby.
My son wanted to go golfing that Saturday morning, so he asked the gents in the family if they wanted to go along, either as golfers or riders. Six went. Three golfers. Three riders.
I was a rider. I rode in the golf cart with my son.
He took out the Nike driver I bought him for Christmas and he clobbered that ball to a fast and furious flight down one fairway after another.
High flies. Line drives. No bunts or bobbles.
He said it was one of his best games ever.
It was wonderful spending that time with him and the others.
Somewhere during those four hours, on a hole with a long, straight fairway, I asked my son if I could take a whack.
He showed me how to hold the driver. How to stand. How to swing. Then I hit the ball.
Surprise of all surprises, it flew down the middle of the fairway, landing a mere 30 yards short of my son’s drive—which was well over 200 yards as I recall.
He had one drive over 300 yards. I bought him a very nice driver. But the swing was always his.
Later in the round, one of our relatives had to make a quick getaway to a place of plumbing. Golf carts can go fast if they need to.
He was gone for one hole. So a nephew of mine and I tag-teamed to fill in for in for him.
My son taught me to chip and putt during that hole.
Let me tell you, putting on a Big Boy’s golf course is harder than putting on a putt-putt golf course. There’s too much elbow room on the Big Boy.
I’ve never been drawn to golf. That’s why I never learned the game.
But I’m drawn to my son.
My future son-in-law plays golf, too.
Here’s what I’m thinking. I should probably learn to play the game.
That way, if either of the boys ever gets in dire need of a partner, I might get to be it from time to time.
And if ever I need four hours in the general vicinity of people I enjoy being around, I might be able to lure them into a game. My treat.
The Bible doesn’t talk about golf. It doesn’t say much about how to nurture a family, either, or how to build relationships with our kids.
Some of the Bible’s most famous examples of father/son relationships aren’t something you’d want to give a try.
Bad boy. Jacob cheated his old and blind father of out his last wish, which was to bless his first son, Esau. Jacob told his dad, “I am Esau, your first son” (Genesis 27:19 NCV).
Bad daddy. Worst king of the Jews, Manasseh “sacrificed his own son in the fire” (2 Kings 21:6 NLT).
Bad boy. Crown prince Absalom died in a coup trying to overthrow his father, King David. Israel’s general “took three spears and stabbed him in the heart” (2 Samuel 18:17 NCV).
Dads like me trying to figure out how to be a good father and a good father-in-law to their grown sons have to look around for other, more general Bible wisdom.
There’s lots of great stuff, usually from Paul, and most often when he’s writing from prison. The pokey seemed to bring out the best in him.
- “Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other” (Ephesians 4:32 NCV).
- “None of you should look out just for your own good. You should also look out for the good of others” (Philippians 2:4 NIRV).
Fine advice for any relationship.
But when it comes to my kids, born into my family or married into my family, I think my favorite passage comes from a scene in the life of Jesus. His disciples were trying to shoo away the pestering kids in a crowd, and Jesus said,
“Let the children come to me, and don’t try to stop them!” (Matthew 19:14 CEV).
I don’t want to be a father that my kids can’t be around…because I’m too busy, too self-absorbed, or too darn boring.
We had things in common when they were young, and living with me and the little lady.
We had soccer, basketball, baseball, piano recitals, vocal recitals, school plays, science fairs, band concerts, jazz band competitions.
You get the idea.
What they wanted to do, my wife and I did, too.
It’s not just because we had to.
It’s because we wanted to.
Why should that change when the kids grow up?
Golf is just another game to learn.
It’s not for the love of game I’d learn it.
But it is for love.