As a new dad, the date August 4th will be etched into my mind for a long time.
No, it wasn’t the day my daughter was born, she came on the 19th.
The 4th was the last round of golf I played before my world was forever turned upside down. A frantic three- or four-hole adventure at the Tekoa Golf Course with my then-pregnant wife Jordyn and her family.
In no way am I complaining. When Quinnley was born I gained a best friend, renewed patience and a perspective on priorities.
Golf is no longer one of those priorities, but over the past nine months I have learned to appreciate the game more than ever before.
Although my obsession with learning as much about my swing as possible hasn’t changed much over the years, my time actually hitting shots has diminished. I guess that comes with the territory of finding a work-home balance.
The very-single version of me from five years ago, the one that played at least 18 a day before work at a short course in Selah, Wash., would be ashamed.
Sure, I had a solid wedge game and was decent off the tee, but life then was all about number of holes in a day, dialing in iron distances and why I couldn’t break 80.
I was missing the important aspect of the game – the appreciation that comes with each shot.
An appreciation you gain through trying to squeeze in a bucket while your child is distracted eating yogurt melts and licking your putter.
Why yes, I will accept my trophy for father of the year now.
That early May day at Indian Canyon I only got in about half of my large bucket before a meltdown occurred. I guess I’m also the mean dad for not letting her eat grass.
But the shots between were great, even if they weren’t good golf shots.
They were great because I was golfing. I was there with my daughter. Even the S-R’s Washington State beat writer Theo Lawson, or Uncle Theo as we call him, joined us to give me a little babysitting help as we traded off trying to hit signs on the range.
We tried everything to keep Q happy for long enough to empty the buckets. Snacks, toys, throwing my phone on the selfie camera – which typically gets me 5-10 minutes of distraction. But she wanted none of it, she just wanted to be on the move enough that my eyes were on her and not the ball.
But that is where the change of perspective comes in. Instead of spending 10 minutes looking for the flattest, most lush turf on the range to hit from, I now seek the spot farthest away from anyone else with a nice mix of sun and shade for play time.
I know I am still a few years from being able to take my daughter out on the course for 18, but it’s those times at the range or on the putting green that make me smile more than any birdie can.
There will be lessons to learn, I’m sure. I understand that by bringing a baby to a driving range I am already getting dangerously close to baby-on-an-airplane territory.
There will be days where I get in five shots before a bug bite sends us packing. There will also be times that I slap some show called “Cocomelon” on my phone so she is entertained for 30 minutes.
But it is important to me that my daughter is raised around the game.
Not that I am trying to go all Earl Woods and get her on TV by her second birthday. I want her to grow up with those same values I am just now learning.
Patience, perspective and priorities.
I probably should start teaching her now not to laugh at every bad shot though – even a father of the year isn’t perfect.