I was introduced to golf at the age of 12 by Harry Reis, my stepfather’s father. We went to a driving range after school one day and he showed me how to hold the club. Harry grabbed a bucket of balls, ran through the basic mechanics of a proper swing and set me loose, guiding me as I hit line drives and sliced the ball to the right with my baseball swing. It was frustrating. And addicting.
He continued to foster my golf skills from the driving range, to the small nine hole course in town, working our way up to the nicer, 18-hole courses in the surrounding area. Harry, Jeff (my stepfather), and I would go out a couple of times a month and bond on the course. I built my relationship with them over the greens and looked forward to our outings.
When I was 16 years old they included me in a trip out to Montauk with several other members of the extended Reis family. It was an experience I will never forget.
As a child of divorce, finding your place in a blended family can be a tricky thing. But golf brought us together. As an adult I look back on those times fondly.
The lessons you can learn on a golf course transcend the sport and impact our everyday lives. Golf is a game of integrity. While it is a competition against your opponents, it is a true battle with yourself. You must penalize yourself when it is called for, you must master some level of composure when all you want to do is scream every profanity known to man as your putt coasts around the edge of the hole and carries itself to the other side of the green. Even the masters of the sport fail. Jack Nicklaus himself said, “I think I fail a bit less than everyone else.” There is always room for improvement. Always something to work towards.
I hope to impart these and other lessons on my own growing family. I want to share my love of golf with my children. With my wife.
We took our daughter to the driving range for the first time today. A little background on this fiery little girl...she walked off the soccer field three minutes into a game at five years old, and showed only fleeting interest in her mother’s sport, softball. She excels in individual sports and activities like horseback riding and brazilian jiu-jitsu. She is also fiercely competitive and impatient (much like her mother). So, it was really a roll of the dice tonight. Would she love it or hate it?
She was reluctant at first, walking up to the line and walking back, asking us to go in place of her. As the time went on her competitive side began to come out, peppered with that impatience. I channeled Harry Reis as I recognized a teaching moment.
Our need as a society for instant gratification cannot be satisfied in the game of golf. This game is the antithesis of instant gratification. It is a slow climb to feeling remotely comfortable.
So, we adjusted our stance and our grip. We reminded her that today was her first time ever swinging a club. We laughed as we missed or made wildly erratic swings. And though they were few and far between, that intermittent reward of a good swing and drive caught her in its grips. She was hooked, just like I was.
We added more time to our bay and sat back as she took over our turns, stopping to rest for a few strokes at a time over the last hour we were there. When it was time to leave she was begging to stay and under normal circumstances I may have lost my patience, but tonight I was happy. We made a plan to come back. We made a plan for lessons.
Tonight my family had more fun together than we have had in weeks. And I came to realize that my hopes for sharing this as a family is a reality.
I recall my mother’s distaste for my stepfather’s hobby. The grief he would get as he left or returned from an outing with his friends. I don’t know why she never gave it a chance. Lucky for me, my wife just wants to brush up on her skills enough to beat me in a round in front of my co-workers. But, more on that another day…
Brad Osoba, VP Business Development Elite Golf Experiences