My husband, Fritz, and I met at a driving range in 1990 and did most of our “courting” at Granville Golf Course in Granville, Ohio. We both shared an almost all-consuming passion for golf and we both “inherited” this love from our fathers.
Fritz golfed with both his parents as a boy and spent hours on the course with his dad, both of them trying to “perfect” the art of the golf swing. The two of them played in many tournaments together. They loved the never-ending challenge of the game. savoring the occasional moments of brilliance and working through the more frequent difficult times. Together, they attended the 1962 U.S. Open and watched as Jack Nicklaus won his first tournament. Fritz has so many wonderful memories of theses days. Even when he and his dad could no longer play together – Fritz’s dad suffered from Parkinson’s disease – they continued to talk and watch golf whenever they could, recalling Hogan’s swing or an Arnold Palmer charge.
I grew up fascinated by the whispers of TV announcers as I watched the major tournaments with my dad. My dad would share with me the highlights of his own game, too. When his shift allowed it, he and fellow Policemen played on Monday mornings. It was always one of the high points of his week and hearing about it was one of the high points of mine. I loved stories about his approach shots or a little 7-iron bump-and-run around the green. Sometimes we’d swing clubs in the backyard and he’d show me the basics. As an adult, I took lessons, practiced like crazy, and learned to play. I’m so glad I did. Some of my most treasured memories are of times my dad and I spent together on the golf course – sharing the game and just enjoying being together. One day in particular stands out for me. I had taken the day off work, and my dad, my brother and I went out to a beautiful course near Marysville, Ohio. Standing out in the gentle sunshine, waiting for my turn to hit, I realized how special this time was. “Aren’t we the lucky dogs,” I said, “out here, together, on this beautiful day, on this beautiful course!” Everyone deserves a day like that with dad. I’m lucky to have had several.
This weekend is The U.S. Open and Sunday is Father’s Day. In memory of our fathers, Fritz and I are making a donation to The First Tee of Greater Tyler (http://www.thefirstteegreatertyler.org/). The First Tee is an early intervention program open to kids ages 7 – 18. Through a series of well planned and directed activities, First Tee kids not only learn the game of golf, but life skills and values such as honesty, integrity, confidence, and respect for others. I can’t think of a better way to honor the memories of our fathers. Both were men of the highest integrity who shared their love, their values and their passion for golf with their children. Both would be delighted to pass on their love of golf – and the value system that’s an integral part of the game – to other children as well.
So George Fryer and Tom Waterwash, this hole’s for you. RIP.