The week leading up to New Years Day we were able to get together with extended family in Fernandina Beach. It included several of my aunts and uncles (on my mom’s side), their kids, and their grandkids. When I was a kid we had these family reunions several times a year, but I know it becomes a logistical challenge as the family grows. However, I always enjoy seeing some of the traditions continue that were started decades ago. One of those traditions we enjoyed this year was the men’s golf outing.
Golf was always a favorite past time of the men in my family, probably for several reasons. Golf has always been a breeding ground for business relationships and was an important part of the family business when I was a kid. But it was also a time for men to connect, talk about life and business, enjoy a sport and being outdoors, create memories, and welcome new members of the family as well as the next generation. I always remember being a kid and being thrilled to be invited to ‘golf day.’ My oldest son even said recently that every guy needs to know how to play golf, and I do believe there is some truth to that.
After reflecting back on our golf round, it was interesting the multitude of generations that were represented. My mom’s brother Mike (a grandfather and in his mid 60s), my brother-in-law David and I (both in our 40s), Colby and Zach (late teens and early 20s), and my oldest son Stone (15). It also happened to be my son’s rite of passage in his first organized round of golf. The course we played was a brand new 10 hole par 3 course built around a lake. It was a beautiful setting on a chilly morning – the type of day where a sweatshirt is perfect but anything more or less and you are too hot or too cold because the of the brisk breeze we felt coming over the lake. We were the only players out there for the first few holes so the setting was even more personal and peaceful. There was a sound system set up around the course playing slow country songs like a Luke Combs type of Pandora station. The interesting part of a par 3 course is that it’s kind of in between a regular round of golf and putt-putt where the 6 of us were able to all play together, walk together, talk technique, and offer tips and encouragement to each other…or make fun of each other when appropriate, ha.
What made the round especially intriguing was the mix of us together as a family living out this family tradition. Colby who had organized it, Zach who is currently playing D1 golf displaying his supreme skill, my uncle Mike still surprisingly a very good golfer considering how little he plays, Stone in the infant stages of learning to play, and my brother in law David and I there in the mix as dad figures (and holding our own I will add!).
Each hole had some challenge with the water, and even with a great hit near the hole, the ball still could roll down the fast green and directly into the lake! So we had a number of times we were walking around the edge of the lake looking for our own ball or one left behind by a previous golfer. And at one point, my uncle Mike was walking along the edge of the lake and along with his classic smile and laugh he said , ‘Whenever we played golf with Papa, we always had to collect Papa from walking along the edge of the marsh looking for golf balls.’ Papa was Mike’s dad (and my granddad) who we lost last Fall. We all laughed when Mike said that about Papa because we all had seen it or experienced Papa’s obsession with finding golf balls. To my knowledge, Papa was the one that really originally drove the idea of this tradition of the men’s golf outing (usually the same day my grandmother planned her ‘shopping day’ for the ladies). When Mike said that about Papa, and I look around in this beautiful and peaceful environment and see half a decade of generations of men represented by our family, it really was a perfect moment. After Mike’s comment, I found myself walking along the edge of the lake after each shot and looking for balls in the water. I found a couple balls and scooped them out of the near freezing water, half proud of myself and half proud of how papa would feel that we were living out a tradition he set for all of us. On the last hole, as my son is about to hit the ball, I found myself correcting his stance the same way Papa would correct mine before I hit the ball.
I was very under the weather that day and it wasn’t until later that day that the full gravity of that experience really sunk in. Here was an event that we weren’t even trying to create this generational experience, yet that is exactly how it unfolded. But if I had to describe what the perfect round of golf looks like, then that is exactly what it would be. Looking back, the only thing I would have done that day is to have us all take a couple minutes on the bridge after the last hole and soak in the moment. So I encourage each of you to find that moment in your day where you just need to stop, take in what life has put in front of you, and embrace that certain moment with an attitude of gratitude.
Have an amazing week!
(below is a picture of the actual par 3 course we played)