Golf is a sport. You hold a club, set it behind a ball, turn away and swing down and whack! Repeat the process until you can entice the ball to fall into a hole.
Some people become highly skilled enough to get paid to do it, but the majority of us just become skilled, but not highly so.
True, golf is a sport, but it also a culture, a lifestyle, a community, an entity, an attraction etc. By its very nature of being elusive it can become addicting, cause us to obsess, fret, worry, fear and enjoy.
Few ever become proficient enough to understand what the game is about. However, each of us sends a quantity of successful projectiles in selected directions to beg the question “what time tomorrow?”
What time tomorrow is more than a request to make additional attempts to play golf or increase the lifetime total of whacks with clubs. It is an invitation and, as such, prompts several questions such as when, where and who will make our foursome?
If you live close to one of your playing partners, will you drive to the club together? Which course will you play? What time will you play and do you need a starting time? If so, who will make it? A simple question, a simple invitation and a lot of details.
In early December, I begin building my daytimer for the following year. I include special dates like birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations., reminders for car maintenance, adjusting furnace controls, turning on the outside water taps and other incidentals.
I’m not a control freak, but I like to think I am organized. I also plot the major golf championships with hope that everyone in the world has the good sense to stay indoors during the entire broadcast and I plan several specific golf events that I like to play in.
Of course, many come up as the season rolls along and some schedules aren’t released until mid-to-late April, but I do my best.
Why do I do this?
Primarily, so I don’t forget “stuff,” but more to take full advantage of the brief few months of good golf weather. I love golf. I love everything about it. I love to practice by myself. I love hitting balls. I love pitching and putting, but most of all, I love spending time with the people I play golf with and have become friends with over the years.
I began caddying as a source of income when I was seven years old. I caddied, worked in the backshop, began to play at age 15, become an assistant, joined the PGA of Canada, played the Canadian Tour, became a club professional and taught at college.
At every level, I met more and more people. People from all walks of life some were golfers and some were not. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to assume I met at least one new person every day of my life as an estimate, which means I’ve probably met 300 or so people per year for a career spanning 50-plus years. That makes a total of about 15,000 people.
Most I met in passing, some become acquaintances, some friends and some are just very special. A lot of them I knew at one point in my life and recently we have reconnected. Others, we never parted and I hope we never will.
In April, my wife and I moved. We both felt a need for change in our lives, some new challenges, some new roads to explore, new stores to shop and the opportunity to meet new friends.
Our new property was specifically chosen because it has a large acreage to allow for my own personal driving range and practice area which I am in the process of building. When I presented my plans to my wife she was particularly interested in the prospect of my building our own personal use, nine-hole pitch-and-putt course.
Since the only experience I’ve had in golf course construction is limited, I called a long time friend. Dick Kirkpatrick has built dozens of courses beginning with his original teacher, “Robbie” Robinson.
Robbie was a product of the finest Canadian golf course architect, Stanley Thompson. Dick and I worked together during the construction of Lionhead in Brampton, Ont.
When I say Dick is a character, I don’t mean he’s crazy or weird, I mean he is filled with the greatest golf stories, golf travel stories, course construction stories, golf events, history, recollections and recanting. Dick is an enchanting, intriguing, gold mine of information. We set a date and he came to our home.
We see each other from time to time and communicate on social media. He hasn’t changed in the 40-plus years I’ve known him. No pretense. No arrogance. A jovial laugh and face that says, “Let’s work hard, do a great job and enjoy it.”
We drove around the property as I listened intently. Immediately, his life time of experience both as a course designer/builder and as a very fine player become evident. A big change here, a smaller one here, what if you thought about it this way, what if you added this and what if you took away that? Explanations, suggestions, ideas, input.
He moved through my routing plan and concepts with the grace of Santa Claus filling stockings,“hung from the fireplace place with care.” Never critical of my efforts, he simply heard what and why I did what I did and blended them with his thoughts.
Everything is in the beginning stages, but our simple little project advanced immeasurably. I think things were developing nicely, but now, I can take solace in the feeling that someone who knows what they are doing has added his thoughts.
Dick Kirkpatrick is one of those people I have met along the way. He has been very successful through an unbreakable work ethic and a wonderful demeanour. His projects are rooted in excellence and his solid reputation was earned one bulldozer blade full of dirt at a time.
Golf is more than a game or ‘what time tomorrow?’ Golf is world of people who belong to a community. Playing golf is the glue, and some people you meet in passing, some become acquaintances, some friends and some are just very special.
Dick Kirkpatrick is very special.
Thank you, Dick. When I get finished, you and Kay will have a standing invitation. FYI You only need two clubs, carts are out 365 days a year, no starting times and no greens fees.