When I was about 13, old enough to feel quite grown up but not old enough for a summer job, I started playing golf.
That's not quite true. When I was 13, golf became a serious activity I did with my dad. Before that, we had several summers of wonder at a tiny golf club where it was perfectly safe for kids under 12 to take off for 9 holes without parents. I don't remember much about the golf at Briarwood: I remember mothers sitting by the pool, and kids playing for hours and hours and hours.
Golf with my dad might also take hours, but it was a different experience. Golf was serious, and I often ended up as the only kid in a foursome of men. We played at Credit Valley Golf Club in Mississauga. During the week, I learned with kids. On the weekend, my dad and I went out into the blazing valley heat to be golfers.
It was tense. First, I couldn't hit the ball very hard, so I was always "up" and always worried about holding things up. Second, there is a lot of water at Credit Valley, and my dad was not pleased if I had to give up after putting three or four consecutive shots into the middle of the river. Third, there were rules over and above the rules of golf. Rules like "neatness counts" that meant remembering every zipper always needed to be zipped up tight.
It's hard to remember that it was also something I loved. I loved it so much, that it was years before I realized I don't really like being out in the blazing sun. I loved it so much, that even now I am proud that I have a good swing (when I occasionally get out to hit some balls). I loved the hours with my dad in a beautiful setting, just walking. I even loved hearing my dad explain to my mom that if I was going to be a golfer, I would have to be allowed to say "shit!"
There's not much better than a long walk with your dad. It's worth the aggravation of hitting small white balls in erratic patterns according to Byzantine rules. It's worth the risk of sun stroke to share the best lemonade in the world before teeing off on the 10th. It's worth the sinking filling when everyone is watching as the ball skitters off the heel of your club.
Happy Father's Day.