Our golf course closed for the season on Sunday afternoon. A father and son marked the occasion by standing on the fourth tee and posing for a selfie, proud to be the last group playing on the last day. They posted it on Facebook and it made me smile.
My last round was a week ago, four weeks after I had announced that I wasn’t going to play anymore in 2016; but one of my sons lured me and my clubs out of the garage. There’s almost a siren call from the game that makes you want to head out on a crisp fall day, for one final bash at the ball. After a four-week layoff, many of my muscles were called out of their short retirement, and by dinnertime that day, they certainly let me know they were not pleased with the interruption to their hibernation.
At this stage of my life, in my mid-60s, the closing down of the golf course for the winter seems to bring more significance than it did in my youth or middle-age. As a kid, totally addicted to the game and not bad at it, it was a major annoyance… especially considering I wasn’t one of those silver-spoon kids who could count on at least a week in Florida before April. In middle-age, it was an inconvenience, but also a bit of a relief; still, it was assumed that some form of golf getaway might be in the offing before the snow melted up here in southern Ontario.
Now, I look forward to the season being done. I’m happy to hang up the clubs, and often do so before the course is officially shut down. I probably played over 80 games this year, and I was getting bored. I feel almost guilty writing that sentence. Someone with far less advantage and privilege in their life might well find such a thought incredibly arrogant, spoiled and ungrateful, and maybe it is.
But I do appreciate how lucky I am to be able to play 80 games of golf – anywhere – and to ultimately be bored with it. Those of us with golf in our lives are all fortunate, whether we think about it or not.
As I’m writing this, I have one eye on the television, where our new young Canadian star Mackenzie Hughes has just finished off the playoff for the RMS Classic, held over to Monday morning because of darkness last night. Mackenzie parred the first hole this morning to win his first PGA Tour event. Jolly well done, Macky Boy!
Since I was reflecting above on how lucky we all are to have golf in our lives, and not to diminish Mackenzie’s outstanding achievement, but let’s consider how fortunate that one par putt this morning has now made young Mr. Hughes.
From this victory, he now gets an exemption to play the PGA Tour for the next two seasons. That in itself is like winning a key to Scrooge McDuck’s vault. It’s certainly not easy to compete on the Tour, but it’s a heckuva lot easier when the gates are open every week. Consider that the player ranked 125th on the Money List this past season – Retief Goosen – won over $745,000. With his victory, Hughes has now won over $1.5 million in 5 events this year.
He also gets exemptions to most of the really important tournaments, including the Masters and the Players Championship, and no doubt he’ll qualify for the US Open, and possibly the British. (I know, I know, we’re not supposed to call it the British Open anymore, but give me a break here.)
Basically, Mackenzie will have to revert to the fetal position to not succeed over the next two years. Indeed, this victory could and should provide a springboard to a life that I’m sure he’s dreamt about every night since he was 12 years old. But how many of us get to live our dreams?
What a lucky guy!
And before I finish this theme, I’d like to acknowledge another lucky fellow that I know.
Mike Sherman is retiring in a few weeks after fourteen years as Head Pro at Rosedale Golf Club in Toronto. Mike was honoured recently with a cocktail reception at the club, and presented with an Honorary Membership, a fitting tribute and gift to a fine guy who’s run an excellent shop and member service, and hired outstanding staff since the day he came aboard. For Mike, coming to Rosedale was a dream come true.
Mike is heading home to Smiths Falls, to take over management of Lombard Glen Golf & Country Club, a course that his Mom and Dad have owned and run for several years.
Mike and Dulce and their three kids are looking forward to moving “home”, and (one assumes) a quieter, gentler life with no traffic jams.
And since Brooke Henderson is known to practice often at Lombard Glen, no doubt her game will move into the stratosphere now with Mike Sherman’s learned eye looking over from the office window.
Best of luck to you, Mike!