It came to light a couple of days ago that I didn’t know what motivated you to get the family together 54 years ago to go to the local driving range to take golf lessons.
Did it occur to you that I would figure out how to tie my pull cart to the back of my bike and tow it the 5 or so miles to Orenco Woods Golf Course to play when I was 14?
Did you expect me to play with Mom on the days you couldn’t make it because you had to work?
Did you know you were going to move to Arizona and play golf every day in retirement?
Did you know that at age 66 I would become a PGA Professional?
You’re gone now and I regret that I never got around to asking you.
Mom played until she couldn’t, and by the way she still ‘caddies’ for me on occasion. My sister Cheryl didn’t care for it but that was okay because she tried and her brother Terry hacks around once a year or so.
You played 9 holes the last day you were with us, so I was told. You had a beverage at the Elks Lodge with your buddies, finished some carpentry project you had going, had dinner with mom, watched some TV and then went to bed.
We spread your ashes at the base of your tree, the one you hit almost every time you played the 3rd at Kearney Golf Course in Arizona, that laid back little 9-holer that we played from the first empty tee box you could find. You know, it was probably three or four rounds before I got to start on number one and get the layout. I visit you every time I am there. I do make every effort to not hit your tree.
The things that stick out about this game we played together will stay with me forever.
We played together weekly.
You helped me build a 4-hole “par three” course around the outside of the house.
We went to a camp ground at the beach that was near a 9-hole course that you, I, your friend Pete, and his son Jim would play every day. You and Pete played 9 holes and Jim and I would play all day.
We added a 5 ounce banana fishing weight to a 3 iron for extra distance. We went out in the back yard and you hit a ball into the field. I think the club went as far as the ball. We learned; good idea, but, grams not ounces.
I can still remember the first time I beat you. You were visibly down, but you kept at it so I had to keep getting better to keep beating you.
There was this par 3 at Orenco that you and I played dozens of times that I could hit with a 4 wood when I was in my teens, but when I returned to that hole in my 40’s, I pulled out my 4 wood and saw it disappear into the woods behind the green. I should have checked the yardage.
I have gotten my son into the game with an old set of my clubs, and my grandson got a new junior set last Christmas so he can join us.
I will probably never know the answer to those questions, but I thank you for the opportunity you afforded me.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
Derrold Thoen, PGA