How many of your fathers really know you?
I grew up seeing my dad through everyone else’s eyes.
Everywhere I go, everyone I meet seems to know my dad.
“I took lessons from your dad for years!”
“He’s the best!”
“Your dad has the patience of Job!”
“You must be a great golfer, your dad’s a pro!”
What many don’t know is my dad went to college on a football scholarship. Oh, he could have gone on a band scholarship (he played the coronet and legend has it he kicked the band teacher off the stage at Las Vegas High) or a golf scholarship. He didn’t finish college. Instead he quit to pursue career teaching golf and get married. He was the first person inducted into the Southern Nevada Golf Hall of Fame.
I was very proud of him because everyone told me how great he was. I didn’t see the person they saw, though.
In fact, if we wanted to see him, we had to go to Muni, the golf course where he taught for some 40 some. You see, dad worked 6 days a week, 8 - 12 hours a day. He got 1 week vacation a year. We would go to the cabin and sometimes play golf one day at Mt. Carmel in Southern Utah. Monday was his day off. Not Christmas, not Thanksgiving, not Easter. Monday.
I didn’t get a lesson spot from my dad until I was 30. I got tips. When we were kids, we would hit balls next to where dad was giving lessons and try to get his attention. Periodically, he’d yell out, “Slow down! Take it back halfway! Turn your hands over!”
Sometimes, he’d cut his lunch short and show us our swing in the reflection of the clubhouse windows. Other times, he’d have us look at our shadow as we swung the club. I can still do this when I try to figure out what I’m doing wrong.
I used to get mad that he wouldn’t give me lessons. I begged him, daddy pleeeeeeaaaaase give me lessons! He would just say, “You can’t afford me.” In reality, he couldn’t afford to give up a
But an 8 year-old doesn’t understand these things. According to my parents, I was lucky they could afford to take me home from the hospital. My mom said the only reason they had the money to pay the hospital bill was because dad had just won some tournament. Now that puts a whole new spin on work-related stress.
When I was 10 I played in my first Pro-Am with my dad . . . . . and Jerry Foltz who I had a crush on! We came in 2nd due to a nefarious score card playoff. When I was 11, I played in Junior World in San Diego with kids from all over the world. My brother, sister and I traveled with a family friend whose daughter (Bari Brandwynne) was also playing,. My dad was working, helping other people with their golf game.
I never got to see my dad play in a professional tournament. I remember him going out of town to play, but I never heard what happened. When he went out of town, we spent time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I almost got to see him play once. When I was in college, he’d won an exemption to play in the Panasonic (today, the Shriners). But the day before in a practice round, his back went out. That’s when he stopped playing golf. He continued to teach, though.
He didn’t watch me play in the Las Vegas Invitational, either. I found out the day before that I got to fill in one day in the Pro-Am. Dad said he couldn’t cancel his lessons on such short notice. I asked him to be my caddy so he could help me while I played. Again, he said he couldn’t cancel lessons on such short notice.
A couple years later, dad retired. Despite my pleading, he wouldn’t give me golf lessons anymore. When I asked, he said he was busy . . . watering the lawn. He made a point to tell me about people who called for advice on their swing, though. About a year later, he had a stroke (he fully recovered). I thought I was too young to be in the caregiver role . . . . I didn’t even have kids! I was wrong. Because I worked at a hospital for 7 years, I called in favors and got a doctor from St. Rose to come to Mountain View Hospital. I think I shocked my mom more than anyone with how quickly I took charge and arranged for doctors. For the first time, I realized that I really did know more than my parents! When I was younger I thought I did. Now, I really did. That was kinda scary.
As I watched my dad get older, I could see his frailty and his fears.
Like everyone’s father, he went from superhero to human being. I was in the hospital room when he passed. After a day of suffering in pain, he finally fell asleep and didn’t wake up.
The last time I played golf was when we scattered his ashes in 2012. I want to play again. It’s a matter of time and money. It’s also a matter of living up to the expectation of playing like a pro’s daughter. I’m supposed to be as good as I was when I played and hit balls several times a week.
Now you know what my dad looks like through his daughter’s eyes.