Under the tree and into the basement

Okay, let’s move on from the Geordie Hilton issue.

Christmas is coming, and I’ve run out of golf stuff to buy my two sons. Both are in their thirties now, and for over thirty years, I’ve had golf to provide me with an easy category for gift-buying. Oh sure, before they were 10, they got the usual crap toys that took hours to assemble, and were subsequently enjoyed for maybe two hours, tops, before being stored in a cupboard and then donated to landfill. But they also got good stuff like skis and skates and hockey gloves and sweaters and ties and, if I’d had a good year financially, maybe tickets to a Leafs game.

My older son took great delight in Christmas, and we have roughly 15 years worth of videotape showing him peeling around the corner at the bottom of the stairs, making a beeline to the living room, and screaming at the top of his lungs at the assembled pile of merchandise at the bottom of the tree. Frankly, it could’ve been a pile of crumpled old newspapers and the kid would’ve been delirious in the pursuit.

My younger son was decidedly different. Possibly because his brother made such a big deal out of the whole thing, number two would break into a mild jog, at best, at the bottom of the stair. Then causally saunter in, scan the inventory, sit down, and wait for an empty large box to appear so that he could clamber inside it and escape the madness.

His pre-Christmas demands were mind-numbingly simple, too. Whereas number one would start composing his list for Santa sometime after the New Year, number two gave it no thought whatsoever… ever. One Christmas, his only request was for a balaclava.
His mother and I concluded that, at age 6, he was too young to be considering a career robbing banks, so we just figured he wanted this rather obscure clothing item because he liked the sound of the word. When he duly received the balaclava on Christmas morning, his first look at it suggested “what the hell is this??”, until one of us reminded him that that had been his Holy Grail for the season.

But I digress.

Every year, from about age 2 on, each boy received some sort of golf doodad. In the early years, it might be plastic golf tees in the shape of Marilyn Monroe, or one of those combo groove cleaner/brush/toothpicks that I have never seen anyone actually use. Later, we’d graduate to a first set of junior clubs, then real clubs, and, in their teens, serious individual clubs that could make them pretend they were serious players.

I, being the ever creative and resourceful Dad I was (i.e., Mr. Cheap), would visit our pro shop or Golf Town and ask for the most garish and least expensive driver/specialty club/wedge/putter in the remainder barrel… stick a bright red bow on it (if and when I could get the stupid backing paper off)… and put it beside the tree before the jet came around the corner. These clubs were always well-received, because it was for sure that my boys would be the envy of the one or two other kids in their wide circle of friends whose Dads also forc—er, encouraged – their kids to play golf.

Inevitably, these spiffy but relatively useless clubs would find their way to a closet in the basement, as the boys ultimately discovered that flaming blue or deep burgundy clubheads did not necessarily mean extra yardage or better touch. In a few cases, they also didn’t mean product quality either, and two pieces of the same club would find their way into the recycle bin.

Some years, I’d give the boys a fine golf shirt or sweater, which I might find on sale as I wandered through the aisles at Sears in search of underwear for myself. These selections rarely pleased the boys, however, which I could never understand. When I was 12, a white Munsingwear golf shirt with the little penguin logo was all the rage… why my kids weren’t equally pleased with such a gift in 1998 was mystifying to me.

Now, fortunately, the tables have turned. My two sons are both very good golfers, and quite capable of selecting and buying their own equipment. THEY are now buying ME golf equipment, usually things I ask for, but often, things they think I NEED to keep my game relatively competitive. It’s been a losing cause, sadly. The two-ball putter, the belly putter, the three Cleveland wedges, the Callaway irons, and the Garmin watch they’ve given me over the last decade, all sit in the basement, as I continue to believe that my scores will improve only through self-effort.

One day, the three of us are going to look at each other on Christmas morning and say, “okay… we done?”

Jim Deeks
Jim Deeks has been writing for Fairways for over a dozen years. He is a former Executive Director of the Canadian Open and Canadians Skins Game, and currently the Executive Producer of CANADA FILES on PBS.

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