Home, Home on the (driving) Range

It was difficult to find the perfect tee for my ball.

We had been driving for almost four hours when my family – minus my older sister (who we were on our way to see) – stopped at the 10,000 (now 50,000) Silver Dollar Bar in Western Montana.  It was the first of many bathroom breaks on our journey to Minnesota and I shot out of the van as quickly as I could.  Not to go the bathroom mind you, but rather to hit the driving range.  In one hand I held an old, wooden 3-wood and in the other hand sat 3 beat up driving range golf balls.  My dad came around the van from the driver’s side and met up with me, also holding 3 worn out driving range golf balls that he had collected over the years.  We walked through the parking lot towards the woods where we saw a large clearing that led to nowhere.

It was time to begin our plan that we had talked about for so long.

The plan was a simple one:  To help pass the time on the trip, and to liven up our stops at restrooms across the country, we each were going to get the opportunity to launch 3 golf balls into the abyss.  You had to use the old 3-wood and your “tee” had to be something natural from the area.  No foreign tees allowed.

I dug around the area and looked for something tee-esque.  At this first stop, the best I could find was a small pine cone that had lived a hard life.  It’s edges were rugged, it’s top had been severed, and it’s once hopeful dream of becoming a tree was now a distant memory.  It’s new destiny was to be a tee for me.

I carefully balanced the pine cone on a mound of dirt – it sat there like a more precarious version of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa – and then I gently placed my first ball on top of it’s surface.  The ball appeared as though it might fall off at any moment so I lined up quickly and started my back swing.  As my club neared the ball I could hear my dad laughing next to me and WHACK! the ball flew.  We both celebrated with loud cheers and continued laughing as it was my dad’s turn to tee up and launch.  He, too, had chosen a pine cone though his was a much bigger one.  He laid it down sideways, placed the ball on it’s tips, and WHACK! another ball gone.  My turn – WHACK!  His turn – WHACK!  My last swing – WHACK!  His last shot – WHACK!

Lots of laughter.  Lots of high fives.  Our idea was better than we ever could’ve imagined.

We returned to the car anxiously anticipating our next bathroom break.

And it came soon enough.

Somewhere between Bozeman and Billings, MT I teed up my ball on a sagebrush that was blowing through.  WHACK!

On the Montana/North Dakota border I found a miniature cactus.  WHACK!

Somewhere near Fargo I made a pile of pebbles and sand.  WHACK!

It was without a doubt the most fun I’ve ever had at a rest area.

My dad and I have had a lot of great memories thanks to the game of golf.  This past week was no different.  We went to Chambers Bay for a practice round of the U.S. Open and then we watched the tournament itself on TV.  Some of it we watched together and some of it we watched apart.  The end of it we watched from both of our homes while on the phone, occasionally silent for minutes at a time.  It was sort of like watching it side by side.

The Lone Fir at Chambers Bay
The Lone Fir at Chambers Bay – Home of the 2015 U.S. Open

Since we were fortunate enough to explore the course in person and see the action up close, seeing it happen on TV was that much more impressive.  But, like many of our golf adventures over the years, I don’t think golf was the point.

The game of golf was an excuse to get together.  The golf course was a location for moments to be shared; a place where memories could be made.

This past Sunday was Father’s Day and today is my Dad’s birthday.  For both occasions, I don’t think I could put into words how great of a dad he is.  I’m thankful for all of the times we’ve shared over the years.  I’m looking forward to many more in the future.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Let’s tee it up again, soon.

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