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Who Introduced You to Golf?

Jun. 28, 2012     By     Comments (9)

There are many memories that all of us treasure, your introduction to golf is likely one you will never forget.

Thrash TalkFor many golfers, the answer to this question is their father. Likely your father was a semi-serious golfer who enjoyed the game and taught you to enjoy it as well. Of course there are many of you who like me had another family member do the introduction. For some, maybe it was a friend even a friend's dad. Maybe you found the game on your own. Whoever it was, the day you finally beat that person is something that sticks in your memory bank forever.

My father didn't play golf. My mother sold his clubs a few months after I was born and she told me she did it because he never used them. He came home one day from work and they were gone. To many of you this is an unforgivable sin, but my dad shrugged it off and later said she was right, he never used them. Much later on in my golfing career he joined me a few times for scramble events. He liked to play in scrambles because there was no pressure and he could enjoy himself. He did not swing much past his waist and did not hit it very far. Looking back, though, he was in his sixties and not doing much stretching at the time. He claimed he was a good putter, but I never actually saw that.

I can remember a par three which had a ravine in front of the green. It was 200+ yards and he hit his shot and found it just short of the ravine. He was excited to see it lying in the fairway with an easy pitch to the green. He walked down there all set to hit it, and I said to him "what are you doing? My ball is on the green." He told that story all the time.

I was introduced to the game by my aunt's boyfriend at the time, Fred. I can't remember too much about Fred because he was not in my life for a very long time, but he left me with golf. We went out to a par-three course and it was a long wait on the first tee. So I was standing off to the side of the tee practicing my swing. I thought I would work on some chipping. I started off with some small swings and gradually the swings got longer and longer and one I really hit well, right over the fence and "bam" right into a car door. Luckily no one saw it and I acted like it never happened. So my first golf memory is hitting a car.

I have no idea what my score was from the round, but it didn't matter. I had found a sport that I didn't need to have others with me to improve at. Baseball, football, basketball, soccer, tennis, all required someone else to work on your game. Golf was something I could do on my own, and I have been forever hooked. Now past my competitive prime for those other sports I am very glad that I found golf.

I am sure that everyone has a first golf story, hopefully there was no damage as in my case, but the memory certainly sticks out to me and has throughout the years. There is little that I can remember from that time but my first golfing experience is one I will likely never forget.

Phil Mickelson at the Hall of Fame

I started to think about all of this because I was listening to a Phil Mickelson interview about his induction into the Golf Hall of Fame, where he discussed how he was introduced to the game. He said that he learned to mirror his fathers swing and thus picked up the game left handed. Of course Phil was a bit luckier than most of us because he got a chipping green in his backyard where he could hone his short game to become the great golfer he is today. Thing was, Phil likely has millions of golf milestones, likely he has forgotten more of them than I have, but his introduction to the game will always stick with him.

I know that to many of you this article is a bit nostalgic and sappy, but I'll bet that as you read it your first thoughts are to your introduction to the game and how happy you were while you were playing the game. Likely if you have been playing for any amount of time you have gone through some great period and some struggles but the core of the game, what made you fall in love with it is still there. Even if you have quit once or twice something brought you back, for you it is almost as though you have a re-introduction story to tell as well.

Photo credits: © Will Dickey.

Discussion

  1. Roblar says:

    I resisted an introduction to golf. My grandfather was a golf addict, and my mother tried to get me to take lessons and try it out. I refused. I wanted to play the team sports: soccer, baseball, lacrosse... For the individual sport, I surfed.

    Flash-forward to my late 30s and one majorly messed up ankle later: my neighbor invited me to play once, twice, three times, and on the fourth time, I finally agreed to borrow his son's clubs and play a round at a par-3, nine-hole course with him.

    Out of my nearly 70 strokes, I hit a few well, and I was completely hooked. Been nuts about it ever since.

  2. There were some golf clubs in the basement in a Sunday bag, that had hickory shafts. My dad played with them when he was younger and for some reason he still had them. He would always throw out things he never used any more, so I don't know why he kept these clubs.

    Anyway, they fascinated me, and I had to know what to do with them. Once I found out, there was no going back.

  3. I played several times as a kid with a family friend. I LOVED it, but because I was already involved with 101 other extra curricular activities my mother never really allowed me to pursue (or really wanted me to) Golf in any way.

    Flash forward, 10 years, in pure boredom my college roommate and I started hitting golf balls at a range using old range clubs before we went on our exercise runs. It was a great core workout, and a great warm up to running.

    After my bother-in-law found out I was playing around at a range, he made it his life's goal to get me interested in golf lol.

    He was semi-serious, and went to college on a Golf scholarship. Spent most of his 30s as a scratch golfer, and was a fantastic teacher.

    Ever since getting to hit the course for the first time with him I was hooked. I am a very obsessive personality, perfectionist, this sport has been a great release and stream to continue my perfectionist angst...

    I have two daughters now, and since they were born I have put Golf in front of them, and my oldest which is 2 yrs old already had clubs and loves golf.

    My 9 month old, is always glued to the TV when golf is on, and cries when it commercials or we turn it off... Maybe I'll get to caddy for one of them someday in the LPGA lol :-)

  4. WUTiger says:

    In summer of fifth grade, my parents took me to a family reunion at a state park with a small golf course. A female cousin (name?) and her husband were golfers, and had brought their clubs.

    They asked me if I wanted to play three holes so I did. My first golf lesson was "Swing the club smoothly," and "aim over there." I think I got about two full shots out of 20 airborne.

    The following summer I started caddying, and I was hooked. Unfortunately, that summer also was the last one for me in Little League baseball. I was tired of baseball, but my dad was the coach, so there were hard feelings when I switched to golf.

  5. Quantico4th says:

    After caddying for my dad on weekends for about three years, he bought me a set of Spalding clubs for beginners. I didn't have a big urge to play even though I had the rules down and enjoyed watching others play. I had swung a club at a ball a time or two when he suggested it during his round with his buddies and always hit the ball horribly. After we moved to Naval Station Mayport, Florida he convinced me to play with him and one of his friends at the base course. I was 16 then and I'll never forget that day. Yeah, it went bad for me. After the first hole he looked at me and said "we'll go on ahead, just play at your own pace and meet us at the clubhouse after 9 holes".
    Smart man my dad. I played every shot on those remaining 8 holes and knew at the end I'd be back. Three years later I broke 80 and a month later scored a 73 in competition with friends while playing the Quantico Marine Base course in Virginia. I have many fond memories of those times and the time spent caddying too.

  6. Gaviao says:

    My uncle was an avid golfer. He took me out once with my cousins when I was in my early 20s. He handed me a 7 iron and said "just stick with this for now". I maybe only hit one or two balls that made it into the air and went relatively straight, but I thought it was pretty cool. I went to a thrift store and bought a couple of used irons, as well as some old golf balls, and would go to a field and try and hit some. I did this for a summer but lost interest over the fall and winter. A couple of years later my uncle past away from a heart attack in the winter. That summer I had this desire to play golf. It's been hit and miss since then, but there's something about this game that keeps bringing me back... plus whenever I golf I think of my uncle and what a great man he was.

  7. DonnelyTR says:

    I never wanted to play golf. I never even thought about playing golf. The closest I had ever come was developing a dedicated interest in watching the PGA Tour on the weekends. My wife, however, has wanted to play golf since high school. For one reason or another, she never got around to starting. However, the remarks about how she would like to try it out got more and more frequent. So, for our 6th anniversary, the iron anniversary, I bought her a set of irons. Actually, it was a full woman's starter set that included irons, but that was close enough to make the joke work.

    She began taking lessons with one of the professionals at the local golf course. Before long, she was going out early Saturday mornings with her girlfriends who golfed. She asked if I had any interest in golf and told her "no, but I'd be happy to caddy for her". That's when we learned that caddies are a thing of the pro tours and maybe exclusive country clubs. Lowly muni players pretty much have to tote their own load while they play.

    It wasn't too long before she was going out on Sunday mornings by herself. This in addition to her Saturday morning outings with her friends. So my wife, whom I truly enjoy being around, is now gone all weekend, playing golf as often as she can squeeze it in. When I mentioned it, she remarked "you could borrow some clubs and take a few lessons to see if you have any interest. If it turned out you did, we could go out and play together on the weekends."

    So, I borrowed a set of Cobra irons from a friend of ours and signed up with a golf instructor at one of the local golf courses. After a couple of months of learning the basics, I was finally ready to go along with her on her weekend golf outings. The golf with girlfriends became golf with couples as the husbands of her girlfriends joined.

    We have been playing together for about two years now. When we can get others to go along, we always include them. When we can't, it's just the two of us heading out to the first tee. What started out as a way to spend more time with my wife has become a passion in its own right for me. And I am the envy of most of the single men golfers we meet, since I have a wife who loves golf almost as much as I do.

  8. daniel2852 says:

    I do remember it well, I was about 12 and it was from a family friend who I still know to this day. He even offered to play me a game now that I'm a little more serious about 9 years later.

    Anyways, I remember him bringing up the suggestion one day that we go to the driving range. I had never played golf and had no idea even how it was played. He took me out there, handed me a pitching wedge and explained the basic swing that I still use to this day. I was hitting the ball and was overyjoyed on one shot I took that reached the 100 yd marker.

    I saw him not too long ago at a party many years later we caught up, talked about golf and even had dinner later that week. Didn't have time to play, but that's all right I would have embarrassed myself anyway. He said we would play after I finished my golf lessons this month. I still look forward to a game between us, it's been 9 years coming!

  9. The Gunner says:

    Though I had been around golfers most my life up to the point in my late 20s when I decided to give it a shot, I'd never actually been to a golf course. My father, a polio survivor who had some game in his younger days despite his "gimpy" leg, played and would take my older brothers with him at times. But by the time I was old enough to go out with him, he had given up the game.

    My first golf course experience, then, was working at a small fundraising tournament for my fiancee's work. Onion Creek Golf Club in Austin, Texas was the birth of the Senior Tour with the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf; and, although the Legends had since moved on to other venues, I was still star-struck at being there and watching the transformational process work its magic on people.

    These people--people I knew--sauntered around as if on some far away retreat. The hustle and bustle of a freeway less than two miles from them and the downtown less than ten miles from them were long, long forgotten. Landscapers and Mother Nature conspired to bring about a tranquil setting. And cute girls in shorts drove around in carts with any beverage you might want. Transformation, indeed--I was hooked!

    I started my golf club collection with a pitching wedge and putter from a sports resale shop, and hacked around a par-27 pitch and putt course a couple of times. My driver, probably smaller than today's 5-woods, I got for 20 bucks. My first set of irons were my dad's OLD old irons--in truth, they were more rust than iron. He had stopped using that set before I was even born. I took an S.O.S. pad to them and played my first full round of golf on my 30th birthday.

    Shot a 122 on the course where, years before, Harvey Penick taught Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite--and I joked that I had 20 years to get ready for the Senior Tour.

    This week, I'll be eligible for the Champions Tour (in age only!). And of course, I'll play Riverside, where it all started. As a 16-handicapper with a career low round of 83 (coincidentally, at Riverside), I'll hope to have shaved 35-40 strokes off my original score.

    Sometimes, I have golf. Most of the time, golf has me.

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