We all golf for different reasons. Some for exercise. Some for fresh air. Maybe it’s a business decision. Many enjoy the challenge. Ohh the CHALLENGE! There are countless reasons why you golf. And there are many things that you each enjoy about golf. We all have our stories and motivations. Whatever drives you to play – let it.
For me it started because of my dad, step-dad and mom. Almost all of my golfing memories and highlights involve them in some fashion. Fantastic golf courses, great shots, not so great shots. We’ve shared them all!
My dad has been a golfer for my entire life, the love of the game handed down to him from his dad, who played golf at Stanford. Together with my uncle, the three Bradley boys played many rounds of golf together over the years. Each better than most, I’m sure they had some great matches.
But more than those matches are the memories. Some specific, others just emotional recollections of time spent together, a singular search for golf perfection, with a love of the game in common.
I didn’t grow up with my dad around every day. So I golfed sparingly, which resulted in a very slow development caused by a love of baseball and an inability to blend the two swings. I golfed for the first time when I was 12 years old. As I recall (and I MIGHT have some details wrong), my first hole was the 2nd hole at Twin Lakes Golf Course in Mountain Home, AR.
Dad was teaching my older brother how to play, and he let me play that hole, a short Par 3. Tony hit his shot right of the green, as did I. Mine was pin high, just right of the green, while Tony’s was a little harder to find. While they were looking for his ball, I decided to chip mine up. It hit the stick and dropped in for a birdie! On my first hole ever. I recall running around screaming and yelling and my dad shushing me. The Golf Dude was born!
I didn’t really become obsessed with the game until my 20’s, after leaving school. I moved to Minnesota and the bug bit me. Or maybe it was the Minnesota State bird, the mosquito. Either way, I played every chance I got, usually both weekend days, and hit balls in between. I got lessons. I got better. And I got hooked.
When I finally broke 80 at Bunker Hills, the first person I called was dad. I had added up my score incorrectly after the round and thought I’d blown my first real chance to break 80 with a 3-putt on the 18th. Devastating! I was in the drive thru at Hardee’s when I recalculated my score and realized I actually HAD shot 79! I couldn’t call dad fast enough!
I moved to Chicago in the early 2000’s to work with my dad. It was during this time that we began golfing a lot. The Monday night league, the weekend rounds, and the occasional sneak away from work to enjoy a beautiful summer day (sorry Barb!). We golfed every chance we could, and I enjoyed every round. Even if I didn’t at the time.
Golfing with dad quickly became one of my favorite things. Laughing at his “Hole-in-3”. Watching the final round of The Masters at his house. Missing my flight to LA in the morning, catching up with the group on the 6th hole and getting a birdie on my first hole, with no warmup (dad was NOT happy – although I think it was more about missing my flight than anything). My 2-iron from 230, or so, yards out on the 13th hole at Torrey Pines South to 10 feet – with a gallery of SkyCaddie workers there to witness, as well. I could go on forever.
A couple of years ago, dad signed my birthday card with a note that bothered me. He wrote “This is the first year in a long time that we didn’t golf together”. I hadn’t even thought about it, honestly, but he was right. And I vowed right then that I wouldn’t allow that to happen again.
As I said above, we all have our motivations and reasons for playing this wonderful game. I have become obsessed with playing the best golf courses I can while I can. And whenever possible, it’s best to play with my dad. I snuck down for his birthday last year and “surprised” him with a round at Eagle Creek CC in Wilmington. We took a caddie and just enjoyed the day on a fantastic course.
I look forward to creating many more memories with my family and friends – the greatest joy I have found in this world. Golf is such a great game, and has given me so much. I hope that it continues to build on these memories I’ve shared.
On this Father’s Day, remember your dad. Call him if he’s around. Hug him if you’re near enough. And thank him for everything he’s done for you. If he’s anything like my dad, he deserves most of it.