“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and new.”
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 to 1882), American essayist and poet
Unlike family relationships, friendships are based on merit. You can’t just say you are someone’s friend, you have to earn it. And for goodness’ sake, you can’t take it for granted. You have to work at maintaining a friendship.
There are all types of friends – best friends, good friends, BFFs, have-a-beer-with friends, long-time friends, childhood friends, work friends, keep-a-secret friends, dependable friends, go-to-the-game-with friends, wise friends, get-me-out-jail-at-two-in-the-morning friends and of, course, golf friends.
I began thinking about friends and friendships because Thanksgiving week is here and my wife, Nancy, pointed out that I needed to count my blessings. I understand that I am a very lucky person for multiple reasons – I had parents who loved me, my wonderful family, good health, the U.S. is a great country and I have a bunch of good friends.
While I love and need ALL of my friends, I do spend an inordinate amount of time with my golf friends. Math really dictates that fact. You have to get to the club to warm up before the round. Then there is the four hours of play, which is just about the perfect number. And finally there is the time in the Men’s Grill to settle the bets, review the round, talk sports and solve the world’s problems.
Since we spend so much time together, we have gotten to know each other very well over the years. More than you may realize.
There is the obvious stuff: we know who always seems to make the clutch putt; who is much better off the tee than on the green; who always has the latest equipment; who plays quickly; who is Mr. Steady whether it is a regular Saturday morning game or the club championship; who can get and up and down from anywhere; who has an eye for mixing and matching colors and patterns; who is always looking for an extra bet or two; who overplays his draw way too often; who has the ability to really go low, and who will play in almost any weather condition.
However, it’s the not-so-obvious stuff that makes me realize that long-lasting golf buddies have more in common than simply a mutual love of golf. Yes, golf has brought us together, but what keeps us playing together is that we enjoy each other’s company. My circle of golf buddies is quite large and we mix up who plays with who every weekend round. Over the years, we have learned to appreciate and enjoy the wide variety of personalities. There are the needlers. The joke tellers. Some are church-mouse quiet. Others are relentlessly positive and upbeat. A few need a pat on the back after a few bad holes. Several have a hard time accepting that God is not responsible for a bad bounce. Most are quick to compliment a well-played shot. All look forward to the next round together.
I find it amazing that four wildly different temperaments and abilities can be thrown together and then fight fiercely to win a $2-$2-$4, three-best ball Nassau and then sit together and talk about the team’s round and their individual rounds. Think about it. There’s something fun and different about a golf friend. I may not know exactly what you do for a living, but I do know exactly how you will react if I make – or miss – a 3-foot par putt on the 18th hole. Also a golf friend knows if he is or isn’t allowed to talk to your ball in midair. (It never bothers me. My ball needs all the directional help it can get.)
The bottom line is that our golf friends understand our quirks and eccentricities. Let me amend that. All of our golf friends understand that we HAVE quirks and eccentricities. Thank God!
Happy Thanksgiving To All,