6 am I walk the dogs and breathe in the peace of our golf course at day break on the leash, hoping the feeling remains on the bag. I feel pretty organized, both bags and coolers packed last night, clothes laid out, up with the sparrows. There is no “out” today – it is all me, every moment. M is at work and B will be on his own out there pushing his own cart. I feel the pressure with P having improved so significantly under M’s caddying but in the Summer these tournaments are held during the week and M already takes so much time off traveling for regional and State competitions.
We drive 1 1/2 hours and arrive in somewhat reasonable time. The layout of the practice facility is terrible – range is hidden 200 yards away down a steep, winding hill. We get there and where are the tokens I have just spent $14 on for the range caddy thing? I sprint uphill to get more, I assure him he didn’t give them to me previously and finally get back down and fill 2 buckets to the top. We now seem to have only about 10 minutes and leave probably $7 worth of range balls so we can make it back up the mountain to the putting green for a few minutes up there. No matter how much time you think you have it is never enough. I should have been walking the dogs at 5:30 ! I am a bundle of nerves. B does not have a watch and tee’s off 10 minutes after P on the front. I give him mine.
Fortunately P and I are playing with a dad and son we’ve played with before – super awesome guys. The others are new to us, we having just jumped up an age group.
First drive off the tee goes wayward. I tell him to play a 5 iron and he proceeds to chunk three 3 woods down the fairway. Finally he reaches for the 5 and lands a solid approach followed by a great chip. Caddy Dad 1 says how much faster the green is than the practice green. Maybe a good thing we spent all of 2 minutes there. P drains an 8 footer for a double bogey. Great short game though!
Par 3 water hole and he takes out a 6 iron. I suggest a 5 and he agrees with me and changes. Woo hoo !! He puts it in the water. Drop. He takes out the 6 and knocks it over, but into rough and buried deep.
Next hole is reasonable until he lands in green side rough. I think he has pulled out his putter which would be the logical club (in my mind). Then he chips, or rather blades it, over the green and down the hill on the other side. He should have putted. He should have putted. He should have putted. I shout. He shouts. I’m suddenly one of “those parents” and in that moment feel exhausted and done with it all. Really done. 9 for that hole. Nothing else to say.
Drives are horrible. The next lands under a big tree. Caddy Dad 2 bends some branches back which is probably not legal, but nice nonetheless.
Finally on hole 6 he hits a good drive, hallelujah ! Then a 3 chip up to the green. Really don’t want to be here !! P hanging in well mentally, however, which is quite something amidst all this carnage.
One thing that really impresses me about P as a person in general is that he manages to get along so well with others. There he is, just invited to the birthday party of one of his playing companions tomorrow; and sitting with the other, just met today, in the mom’s cart munching snacks and chatting between holes. A good place to hang from one hole to the other – this course is horribly hilly and hellishly long.
Then all goes to hell in a hand basket !
Hole 7. Good drive providing an open, flat path to left edge of huge green; or aggressive shot over 2 bunkers directly to flag. I tell him to play it safely. He could pretty much take a putter and get it on to the green from where he is. He shoots the ball into bunker 1. Then into bunker 2. Then blades it out clear over the green, down the hill and into rough and rocks.
Text 1 to M : I’m never doing this again. We are both angry. Both crying. He needs to go back to baseball. Not doing this again.
Text from M : What happened to just let him play ?
Chatting with Caddy Dad 1 on the way to the next hole : some boys play better with their dads. I told J (his son) that every time they argued he made bad scores. Now he makes his own decisions. You can’t be too hard on yourself.
And amongst all this tension and despair and ‘what the hell just happened’ I have a vague spark of a thought. Maybe I can make him into a golfer and maybe I can make myself into a caddy? Although I realize I really can only be responsible for the latter.
Text 2 to M : OK, that was horrible. Hope we can come to an understanding going forward and hope he can actually play a decent shot off the tee going forward. I might see if I can get a caddy lesson with someone and need to come out when you playing with them too.
From P, what can Mom do to be a better Caddy?
- Don’t shout.
- Have fun.
From P, what is Mom allowed to talk about on the course?
- Direction feet are pointing if they are far off target.
- If I think P has the wrong club.
- Fun things.
Advice from Greg Powers, friend and pro golfer extraordinaire :
Golf is not a sport where you have team mates. You are alone. You are an island out there. Decisions you make, make the round. You cannot make bad decisions. Bad decision follows bad decision and before you know it you are in a downward spiral. You’ve got to make good decisions. If you don’t feel you can get there play it safer. Better to lose just 1 shot.
We’re back out again next week on our island.