Most goals are easier to reach with company. Skipping the 5 a.m. workout is harder with a car load honking out front. So the middle brother started organizing an annual golf trip to play more often, but also provide strong motivation to play well in front of the family. Every year, they went to the same place, and played the same course along with some new ones. It was a good way to measure his progress. At first, even short par threes would concern him, then short par fours, and then mainly long par fours and fives with narrow landing areas. He was encouraged he could now work to lower his scores by better chipping and putting instead of just hoping he could finish a round with enough balls. He was glad to be out of the dentist’s chair.
He also found his taste in courses changing, and now preferred natural, unkempt layouts over manicured and traditionally American-style ones. His favorite tournament switched from the Masters to the British Open. Golf just felt more real, and more fun, when there were blind shots, bad bounces, and dynamic weather – where the battle was more against nature instead of an architect. This was Quantum Physics, a step beyond Newtonian principles. Pro golfers only wanted to audit this class; luck is a foe with a paycheck involved.
His reading also shifted, and he was less interested in a tournament’s result or the latest golf tip, and more in course architecture and the renaissance in golf course design that bloomed at the turn of the century. The stories and people behind Sand Hills and Bandon Dunes thrilled and inspired him, and led him to read about National and Oakmont and Pine Valley. And to learn where were Ballybunion, Royal County Down, and Turnberry; why people preferred Irish or Scottish golf; and the mark Old Tom Morris left on the game.
Is this what the first golfer wanted him to discover? That its underlying history and design philosophies would provide as much substance as the game itself? And therefore every round had much more meaning and interest than could be counted in strokes?