Warning Ė this is going to be an unabashedly sentimental article. You see, it dawn
ed on me the other day, when a friend asked me why I have two seven irons in my bag, how much of what I am carrying were golf gifts. In fact, my driver and my putter are the only two pieces of golf equipment that I went out and bought myself. And even the driver is indirectly the result of a golf gift. This train of thought led me to think about how much golf equipment I carry around, or I have hanging in my garage, that brings back strong and fond memories of people who I have golfed with over the years and who have meant a great deal to me.
I received my first birthday golf gift when I was nine. An uncle of mine, who was, and still is, a sports fanatic gave me and my brother each a golf club, in hopes that it would get me interested in the game. My brother and I used to ride our bikes out to a course in the country a couple of miles out of town. Golf was not that popular in rural areas 45 years ago and we could play a round or two, with only a few clubs, without bothering anybody. I still carry that golf club and use it occasionally for tough lies, since the shorter, junior shaft works well when dodging tree branches. But the real reason I carry the club is the fond memories of those games with my brother and the kindness our uncle showed in giving us the birthday golf gift.
I have a clunky old golf pull-cart that I still use sometimes. It is a heavy old thing with skinny wheels, so I donít use it that often. But I remember well that it was a fatherís day golf gift that we gave to my dad about 40 years ago. He has since passed on and it brings back great memories of the rounds of golf we played together. When I was younger, I was often too busy with other things to play golf in the summer, so it seems like it was mostly in the fall when my dad and I used to play. So on a nice crisp fall day, I like to get out the old golf cart and pull it through the yellow leaves.
My father-in-law didnít start playing golf until after he retired, when he was about 67. He soon became an enthusiast, joined a club, and played almost every day for years. When he was 90, he was too frail to play a round, but still came along and rode in the cart, getting out and hitting once in a while. I had been away from golf for a while when he started playing and he got me back into it. He gave me his old one wood and promised me that I would always hit it straight. I donít use it much but I still carry it sometimes, for good luck, and for the memories.
My irons were a Christmas golf gift from my wife and daughter about 10 years ago. Once again, I was at a stage in my life when I was too busy for much golf, but had to play once in a while in a golf tournament because of my job. So they decided that I should at least have a decent set of clubs, even though my play at the time was not that great. They helped me relax and get back into the game. I doubt if I will part with those golf clubs, even if technology renders them obsolete.
After I got those irons and was starting to play more, I was still using the old driver my father-in-law gave me, but by this time, oversized clubs were becoming the norm. A friend of mine had a driver that he couldnít hit straight, so he gave it to me. He should have stuck with it, because it gave me a great deal of distance. Once I gained some confidence from yet another golf gift, I went out and bought myself a new driver, the only new club in my bag (I have since added a putter).
Golf gifts, whether they are for Christmas, birthday or fatherís day, donít have to be expensive, donít have to work and improve golf scores, for them to be cherished for years to come. Golfers will make associations and build memories from simple gestures, knowing that it is the game and whom you play it with that matters most. The relationships forged by golf are the greatest gift.
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