Favorite Birthday Gift That Wasn't

How an unwanted birthday gift turned into a favorite.

I don’t remember a lot of the birthday gifts I’ve been given over the years. But I specifically remember the one from my eighteenth birthday.

My parents called me up to their bedroom as my dad proceeded to pull a golf bag full of new clubs out of their closet with an excited, ”Happy Birthday!” I’m sure I did my best to hide my disappointment I was feeling and probably said something to the effect of, “I don’t even play golf.” But that was their way of telling me it was a perfect time to start.

It’s not that I didn’t like golf, I was just indifferent about it. I never really watched golf on TV and didn’t know why the game had such a big appeal. (Although I was a big fan of miniature golf, so I guess that was something.)

My birthday was in the middle of winter, so I put the clubs in the garage and really didn’t think about them for a couple of months. When spring rolled around, I remember finding myself with absolutely nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon.  It was a beautiful day out, and I figured there was no better time to at least try these clubs and see what all the fuss was about.

My mom recommended I go to the local par 3 course in Overland Park, Kansas.

The course was only nine holes, super cheap and easy to walk. I happened to go out at a perfect time when there wasn’t really anyone behind me for a while, which turned out to be great since it was very slow going. I didn’t lose that many balls, but I did have some rough tough tee shots, scuffed fairway shots, terrible pitches, and horrible putts. It was definitely frustrating, but I found myself enjoying the quiet and the outdoors on a beautiful day.

The Moment

On the second to last hole, I finally experienced something that every golfer enjoys. It was a great shot, where everything came together for just one swing.  Probably a 65-yard pitch that landed right in the middle of the green, and left me with a make-able putt. (Which I proceeded to miss.) It was legitimately the only good shot I had that day, but it left me with a feeling of wanting more. And I remember walking off the last green thinking that if I could get a few more shots like that, it wouldn’t be the worst way to spend an afternoon.

Flash forward to today, and a few things have changed.

For one, I’m way too lazy to walk a full eighteen holes. I now prefer to play a round with friends rather than by myself. Cruising around in a cart with a cold beer and catching up with my buddies is my ideal afternoon.

My goal is to try and improve my game every time I go out. That doesn’t always happen, but I do love the game of golf. I enjoy watching major tournaments, following my favorite players, and continuously working on my own game. In the end, I owe it all to my parents and that “lame” gift I received for my 18th birthday.