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Where did you start?

Speedy

I'm sure this has been brought up before so my apology if it has...

So my boys have been taking lesson with the First Tee the last few weeks and for some reason yesterday while watching my oldest, I took a picture of the driving range he was at.. It was filled with kids taking lessons and adults hitting on the other end of the range.. Took a picture and sent it to a few buddies and said "hackers paradise".. After I sent it, I felt bad and started thinking that I was them at one point, hacking away and learning to play the game.. That led to a great series of texts with my buddies about how we got started, where we played and learned and how CHEAP it was back then...

Back in the days I was just happy to be out there with my buddies hacking away and having a good time.. My only regrets was not taking it seriously and not taking lessons. But to think where I started and where I am today, it's been a great learning experience. Back then breaking a 100 was a treat! Now not breaking 80, I need to do better haha.. One thing that never changes is the fun i have on the course and the amazing people I meet while playing (it's rare i play with a d**che :))

30 plus years ago playing a public courses was the best. Now, I have a bucket list. Back then I didn't even know what a bucket list was. I've hit a few already; Bethpage Black, Pinehurst, Chambers Bay to name a few and may hit up a few more later on this year.. But it's crazy to think 30 years ago I only paid $90 for a FULL SUMMER membership at an 18 hole city course.. Now? HA! I think you know where i'm going....

IMO golf is the best sport anyone could play which is why I'm hoping my boys will continue to play, if not, oh well. Love to hear how everyone got started and keep on grinding..

I like this quote from Gary Player, truth - “Golf is a puzzle without an answer. I’ve played golf for forty years and I still haven’t the slightest idea how to play.”

12 Replies

  1. Tyler H

    Great post Chris. Like you I look back and wish I would have taken golf more serious when I was a kid. I like to think that I am making up for it now.

    You are right on the bucket list of courses. I will be knocking 2 more off this summer (Hazeltine and Bethpage Black ) and replaying a replaying a few that are in my backyard (Whistling Straits and Erin Hills).

    Growing up my grandfather told me that golf was a great game to play for several reasons:

    1. You will meet some really great people playing (When he was in his late 70's he got paired up with Alice Cooper at Camelback)

    2. It is a game that you can play for you entire life. I witnessed this with him as he still would come out to the course and play a few holes several times a week well into his late 80's.

    3. Golf is a game of integrity and honor. When it comes down to it, it is just you against the course.

    TH
  2. No'l

    What a great post!

    A few of my friends started golf late (late 30s) like I did, we were just in it for the new and better way of spending a good time. Never serious, however, always thinking of what the rules may be. We had a city card and we would take turns to wake up early to call for tee times at the local munis- or who will fall in line early in the morning to place the tee time the week after on non-muni courses. It used to be half the fun until rounds would take 5+ hours and we had to do something.

    At the time, I just thought that if I could play each weekend that it would eventually or automatically take me to a higher level of playing the game. But, I was always more into the snacks I brought with me... It wasn't till my dad showed me a few things- and oh, I miss him and my time with him in his lessons.

    In 2000, we started to have a place to play golf. My son and my daughter were interested and they came to the range with me and sometimes at the course with me for 9 holes. Unfortunately, that didn't last very long. Both my son and daughter's favorite were more to drive the cart even if they could hardly reach the pedals. They loved the burgers and fries at the clubhouse more than golf also. But they've both had a chance to meet my friends in golf who reinforced the same family values we have and I thought that was real neat. I just keep hoping they'd pick it up again.

    Thank you for your post and the opportunity.





  3. Tim Tiger

    Started at the age of 12. Loved going with my dad to the course way before that, so he taught me how to play and to respect the game. Then I got a teacher that refined my game. Got to play junior tournies and college golf. This great sport has allowed me to play some great courses and meet total strangers that are now some of my finest friends.
    Golf teaches you humility if nothing else. One day you play your worst round. The next you play your best.
    Hopefully able to play it for many years to come.
    Also very thankful for communities like Team Titleist and Footjoy Ambassadors to be able to express ourselves.


    TT
  4. Speedy

    Thanks for sharing Higs and i can only hope I play as long as your grandfather.. Wow. God bless him...
  5. chris b

    The older I get, the luckier I get ... just not at golf.

    I started playing golf with my father when I was 4 years old. Going to the range, beating balls, putting on the green with my mom (she was the best putter out of the family). Unfortunately, when I was 5 years old, while playing across the street with a neighborhood friend (who was 9), I was hit in the head with a golf club. (5-iron to be exact) Make a long story short, I was in the hospital for a while to say the least, but I have a scar & a metal plate to prove it. Ironically though, I still kept with the game and have been playing ever since. I was the only son out of three that took to the game introduced by my father. My two older brothers wanted nothing to do with golf cause it wasn't a manly sport according to them.

    As a teenager, I played on Wednesday's & Sunday's every week religiously, rain or shine, with my father. He was my only teacher that understood my nuances & quirks in my swing. I played in high school & college for the competitiveness & camaraderie. Still play as much as I can now.

    Was a real low handicap in my younger years (lowest was a +1 while in college) but of course as the year's have crept up on me, so has the cap. But now I just enjoy getting out with friends & coworkers on guy's golf trips, etc.

    Just love getting out & enjoying this wonderful game ... of course with Titleist equipment helping me along the way.
  6. Cleekgeek

    Great story...
    There is a First Tee program at the course where I work and the Club Teaching pros have lesson and camp programs for those interested in take it up a level.
    Don't have to be a member at the club to get the lessons and I am sure that junior lessons are available from a number of local driving range professionals.
    Best of luck in finding good instructors.
  7. John B

    I'm 55 now and started when I was 10. I played 27 holes every Monday through Friday once school let out at a 9 hole course - a 25 minute walk from my house. I have great memories of throwing my bag over my shoulder at about 8am and walking over to the course where a rag tag group of about 10-12 of us would group up and play all day long. The best part was it was $1.00 for the entire season weekday pass for 10-17 year olds. A much needed cheeseburger or hot dog and a milkshake for $2 would sustain us between nines. I would be back home at about five for dinner - what a life!

    Funny thing is we all played high school golf and 5 of the guys are presently PGA pros at area country clubs.

    There is so much talk of growing the game these days. I can tell you it was access to a golf course that got all of us hooked. Most of us had hand me down clubs - maybe about 7-9 clubs total. When we ran out of balls, we would search all the hot spots for more at the course. None of us had golf shoes until high school golf - and then just one pair we wore every round until they were falling apart. I remember getting my first full set of clubs for HS golf (Jack Nicklaus Golden Bears from JC Penny's) the summer of my junior year.

    If courses let kids play for free or at a very modest fee, I believe the game would grow just fine. But of course we have supersized everything, including junior golf. Five PGA pros came out of one scruffy 9 hole city course - there is something to be learned from that.
  8. Allen L

    Great topic Chris, love reading these stories.

    As with others my grandfather got me started, in 1955. He took one of his old hickory shafted 9 irons, cut it down and put tape on for a grip. We'd chip balls back and forth for hours. My grandfather loved the game and he was a Sam Snead fan.

    In the 50's and 60's there was not a lot of golf on tv especially in the area of West Virginia where we lived. When Arnie Palmer came along I became his biggest fan. Gran dad would root for Sam Snead and I'd be rooting for Arnie. Even Grand dad became awed by Arnie's Army. TV coverage got better by the mid 60's and the golf coverage improved. Along came Nicklaus, and the older players like Snead, Sarazen, Hogan all stayed fairly competitive. So TV and the pro's during my childhood along with an ardent golfer, my grand dad, kept me interested in the game.

    I have been playing since 1955. Best years were in the 70's and 80's. Gone but not forgotten.

    Today, I have become my grand father, my 7 and 9 year old grandson's are in their third seasons and doing much better than expected. They know the fundamental rules, handicapping, match play versus stroke play. We watch a lot of golf on tv when they come to visit. The tradition continues...
  9. BSpanding

    I started, when I was 19. My parents and my brother had started a year earlier, but golf was not for me. No, I was going to leave home to live and study in copenhagen, which wouldn't give me any time for playing.

    But before I moved, the only thing they talked about at dinner etc. was golf, so one time I told them, that I would take a free lesson, and if it wasn't anything for me, golf was not a subject at dinner conversation anymore.

    What happened? Well, for the first many years, I played more golf than the rest of the family combined. It is just after my dad got retired and I got kids, that he plays more than I do. So basically, I got hooked as many people before me :-)

    Luckily, I have given the bug to both of my sons, so we spend hours together playing and talking about golf.

    My only regrets when it comes to golf are:
    1) that I didn't had the opportunity to learn the game as a junior so I could participtate in all the junior tournements throughout the country.
    2) that I didn't had the money to take enough lessons, when I started.
    3) not been able to persuade my wife to take up golf.

    Enjoy your golf, no matter what level you play.
  10. Carl T

    I started playing golf when I was around 9 or 10 years of age. I lived a few blocks from one of the public muni's and the greens fee for kids was 50 cents. Sometimes I would start on #2 and quit after #17 (free golf if the ranger did not catch you). That was 60 years ago. I played during the summers and when I reached my early 20's I quit playing for the next 20 years other than a round here and there for social reasons. When I started playing again after a 20 year lay off I made 3 hole in ones in a year and a half and have been playing regular ever since. I have taken a few lessons but at my age now I really depend on technology to keep my game going. I go the gym a couple of times a week, more in the winter, and play or practice 4 or 5 times a week. Old Father Time is catching up on me but our great sport has forward tee boxes that still makes the game fun and enjoyable.
  11. Edward K

    My father was the Club Champion at 2 clubs. The deal was I had to break 40 for 9 holes at the local 9-hole muni (which wasn't easy) before me and my buddy could play with the Big Boys. Took a whole Summer, when I was 13. The fire had been lit. AND, we had to learn the rules, as his main club was VERY competitive. They even had 30 ladies at one time with single digit handicaps......
  12. Kevin B

    Great post.

    Like many here, it started later in life at 29. I'm now 66.

    Although not for the lack of influence from an early age from my Uncle, who caddied for Jimmy Demaret when he played in Canada. My Uncle cut clubs down for me, took me out to the range with him and helped me find golf balls, clean them and sell back to golfers along with a lemonade at the 9th hole, at Capilano Golf & Country Club in West Vancouver BC, where I was raised.

    It wasn't until later in life 29, that with the influence of a couple friends I'd get back to golf.

    I invested in some serious lessons at the age of 29 with Mr. Ron Rhoads, who was the pro as Riviera CC at the time and past golf coach at USC and credit my passion for golf to Ron and his dedication to golf and golfers at all levels pro and amateur.

    He told me early on what he expected of me if he was to become my instructor and the one I'd run to when my game was heading south. I was not to play a round of 18 until I'd had completed at minimum 6 months of lessons. It was an agreement.

    Range Practice 3 times a week working backwards in my bag dividing my bag by 3 working from Putter-9 day one day 5-9 the next and on the third practice Driver through4 iron on the last.

    On the off days between lessons he asked that I grab my putter and practice putting with my left hand only 4 feet from the hole.

    He asked if "I had a temper or when practicing I became angry at mistakes or mishitting the ball," of which I told him no. Ron then told me "if this was something I found happening to tell him immediately" to which I asked why? He said, " It's not a violent game, its a gentle game of honor, where you're with nature and friends and mostly a game of character. If you find yourself throwing or breaking clubs you should find another game or hobby. Simply and calmly stated in only a way Ron could put it.

    He taught me everything about golf from the rules, to marking my ball and when I made a mistake on the course to readily to make sure I told playing partners immediately about it, such as accidentally moving my ball or playing the wrong ball etc. Taking responsibility and protecting the game of golf was as important to Ron as anything.

    He would call me and tell me to come to the course as he wanted me to watch a pro on the range. I came where we both sat and observed at the range at Riviera, Mr. Tom Weiskopf practice before he duked it out with Tom Watson Johnny Miller & at the 1982 LA Open Golf Tournament. He practiced with a 7 iron and hit it high, low, punched, chip, soft, and slammed. It is one of my most vivid memories of one of golfs purest and most talented professional golfers. He could do things with a 7 iron only an artist could imagine.

    Ron Rhoads tracked my growth as a student with 4x5 index cards. He kept my error drawings and comments on them and would merely show me when I was returning to old habits by way of his cards. It worked! He'd watch me beneath his straw hat, hit ball after ball, putt after putt and then about 6 months into my lessons I showed up and he was in a golf cart waiting for me. I was 30 minutes late. No cell phones in 1982. He said "I had planned to play 18 with you today however, you're late he said in the calmest voice, therefore we'll postpone and perhaps next lesson you'll be here on time and perhaps early so you can be prepared to play a round of golf."

    Never again was I late to golf or anything.

    Ron taught me more than golf as a young man. He taught me not to take advantage of people places or things. Keep your word. Be responsible. and honest. Take good care of your golf clubs and clean them after use so they sparkle and dress for golf accordingly as you always want to be invited to play regardless of your ability as its your character that matters more than your ability to strike the ball perfectly.

    Some years later when he became the Head Pro at Sherwood CC and North Ranch. My wife and I met him for lunch and we played a round together it was an amazing day and one I'll never forget. Soon thereafter I'd won my first tournament at my club and sent him a thank you letter for the gift of his mentoring me in the game of golf and credited him for my love of the game and the skills he taught me.

    We stayed in touch and I'd send him copies of my score cards as the years passed by and invited him to be my partner in a club pro/partner event and he responded say he'd have loved to but wasn't feeling up to it and kindly thanked me.

    Sadly In 2007 I learned of his passing. Along with his family, friends and countless professional golfers who he guided, I too had lost a friend who had given me a gift in life when I'd least expected it. A gift that has given me an abundance of happiness I've been able to share with my son and so many friends.

    I will be eternally grateful for Ron Rhoads who passed too soon at 66 for his impact on my game of golf and had the opportunity to spend time with him at a legendary place called Riviera CC. His gentle way and appreciation for Gods fairways have become part of my appreciation for this great game, Golf.

    Thank you Ron! Miss you like it was yesterday my friend.

    This is the article that appeared in the LA TImes following his passing.

    articles.latimes.com/.../me-passings30.2



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