Standing on the 16th green at Old Elm Club, looking back down the long, rolling fairway with the sunlight filtering through the trees, I remembered why I loved this game so much.
I had been invited by my good friend Brian to join him at Old Elm even though I wasn’t really playing golf at the time. He needed a fourth, and he knew that I grew up caddying and playing this marvelous little Donald Ross course in the north shore suburbs of Chicago. An interesting and kind invite, especially given that I had essentially quit playing golf with any regularity for the previous twenty years. Perhaps he knew something that I did not. Perhaps he had an inkling that seeing those familiar fairways and greens would rekindle my passion for the game. A passion that I had talked myself into believing was long ago dead.
The story that I would tell people if they asked me why I didn’t play anymore was that I had competed as a kid and had become burned out. I failed in my attempt to make the team at University of Illinois, and ditched the clubs for a full college life. After graduation, I didn’t have many potential playing partners in my inner circle, and so the opportunities did not arise. That was the story I told, and there was some truth to it. The deeper truth though is that I just put the clubs down one day and inertia took over.
Thankfully, on that day several years ago, Brian’s invitation changed my direction.
Looking back now, I realize how fortunate I was to have had the opportunity to caddie at Old Elm. Each day, I got to act as a guide, cheerleader, coach, and comrade to some of the country’s highest powered executives. Perhaps I will share some of the words of wisdom, and the funny stories, of looping around the course in their company in later posts. For now, I’ll just share that I witnessed every brand and quality of golf imaginable, absorbing as much as I could along the way.
We were allowed to play each evening and all day Mondays on this immaculate course created by a master designer. These were times with friends that contained equal parts joy, challenge, competition and serenity. I have putted out on the final hole in the dark at Old Elm more times than I can remember.
That place is dear to my heart. It has its own special magic for me.
Brian and our other two playing partners (Peter and Dan) helped me reconnect with that magic again that day, and it has had me ever since. In the the past 2 years, I have travelled coast to coast playing world-class courses, started working with a coach, and joined the Kingsley Club in Michigan. I have found the joy, challenge, competition and serenity once more, and I can’t get enough. I am truly geeked on golf.
I invite you in to phase two in my journey with this game, and I hope you share with me as well. After all, golf-geeking is always more fun in a group.