This past weekend marked the 12th year in a row that a group of golfers from Fitzgerald took to the road in search of a good time, a little competition, and a lot of great fellowship. The Wild Chicken Cup was once again contested in the great state of Alabama at the Dothan National Golf Club and Hotel. 44 golfers made the trip for this years tournament. Team Red came into the weekend riding a wave of momentum as they upset Team Black in 2010. Their confidence was reduced to fear in short order as Team Black jumped to an early lead after day one. After all was said and done, Team Black secured the victory and the Wild Chicken Cup was returned to its rightful home. (I'm on Team Black!)
This was only the second time that I have played golf in the past 6 months and only the 3rd time that I have played since last year's tournament. I as reflect back on what golf has meant to me in my life, I find that very surprising. Several of us talked about the fact that we do not play much anymore, especially after our Country Club shut the doors, but I have a love for the game that is not easy for me to describe and I find myself missing the game very much. I thought that I could just walk away from it, but the truth is I need it. It is a part of me. It is in my past and I hope that it will always be in my future, and thanks to a 7 year old boy that I met this past weekend, I'm going to make sure that golf will continue to be in my life as well as the life of my son Reid.
I never even asked the kid his name. He was a cute little dude with his khaki shorts, polo shirt and Masters hat. He looked like a golfer with his two toned golf shoes, golf glove and shinny bag and clubs. His father told me that he was seven years old and loved to play golf. I thought of my own son and how he likes to hit balls in the yard with his clubs, but then I watched this little guy take a few practice puts on the green and I knew that we were talking a different ball game. The word "prodigy" came to mind as I watched this kid hit a few practice balls. His Dad worked at the club and has been bringing him out to play since he was three years old. He went on to tell me that he has played in three different kids tournaments and has won all three of them. They are preparing to play in the "Future Masters" tournament this summer. I wish this kid all the luck in the world and I admire his Dad for bringing him to the golf course. By the way, this little 7 year old that can only hit the ball about 135 yards went out and shot a 79 from the ladies tees. That is impressive!
So why did this kid spark my fire for the game of golf again? It made me realize that I should be doing more to pass this great game on to my son! The game of golf can be played for a lifetime and nothing would please me more than my son taking up the game and being able to play it at a high level. With the reopening of our local golf course, I hope that I can take Reid to hit balls and try to play a little. Do I want a prodigy? I'm not hoping or wishing for that. I just want him to play the game and learn to love it one day just as I did.
I was not exposed to the game of golf at an early age. In fact I probably did not swing my first golf club until I was 12 years old. Baseball was my life as a young boy and stayed that way through high school, but if I had to do it over again I think I would choose golf. I'm a better golfer than I was a baseball player. One of my fraternity brothers tried out for and made the Georgia Southern Golf Team while we were in school. I could play with him and I was only two years removed from playing full time high school baseball. If I had focused on golf for all those years, who knows, I may have gotten a free education somewhere. I just want to provide Reid with the opportunity to make a choice. If he loves baseball, then we will play baseball. If he loves golf, we will play golf. If he wants to play both or none at all, then that will be fine too. I just want to expose him to as much as possible so that he can feel good about the decisions that he will one day have to make.
That little kid broke 80 for the first time this past Saturday. All you could see was his huge smile as he ran up to his Dad to tell him. I remember the first time I broke 80 and how excited I was to tell my Dad. I can only hope that Reid will be excited on the day that he breaks 80, but it will be up to him if he wants to play the game that his Dad still loves! It will be up to me to give him that chance!
Son, do you want to go hit some balls?