May 13, 2009

Tempest Fugit

Tempest Fugit is on the face of many old clocks, Latin meaning "time is fleeting." That's an absolute truth, and for those of us for whom the years are starting to pile atop of one another, we get reminded of it once in a while when muscles are sore from activities that never gave us any problems before, for example, playing 36 holes a day, or working 18 hours and recovering with a few hours sleep and getting right back at it. When we were younger, it never gave us a second thought, but later we're reminded that what was once easy now has a higher cost. Such is life, and if you haven't learned that yet, you eventually will. And so it goes.

It's said that golf is like life, but at times, life is not like golf, it's more important than all that.

Sometimes the reminders are more harsh -- for example, watching my Dad, a robust man who loved hitting the links with his buddies all through his adult life telling me recently that he didn't think he could play 18 holes any more because he gets too tired and his back aches after just a handful of swings.

What I wouldn't give to play Eagle Ridge with Dad.

I know we're all headed there if we live long enough, even though golf is the game of a lifetime, sometimes life lasts longer than our ability to swing a club. In addition to my Dad, my father in law is in the same situation...he too would love to play, but his body just isn't willing. Like my Dad he watches golf on TV, but also like my Dad, he's had to leave his game in his bag in the garage. The years add up up, sap our strength, and before we realize it, we're left wishing we could play and our bodies just say no.

This past weekend, Dad and I went to watch the launch of the space shuttle in my home town of Cocoa Beach, and along the way, we stopped at the World Golf Hall of Fame. We certainly enjoyed the tour, seeing all of the exhibits and trophies. I think two things that I enjoyed the most, however were the golf simulator that the museum offers. I got "home" on the three-par that they had in three, but best of all, my Dad stepped in and gave it his best. He bogied the hole, but the score didn't matter one little bit.

What was important was that I got to "play" golf with my Dad again, a fervent wish that I have held close for many a year. The moment was fleeting, after all, tempest fugit, but for a few seconds, we were back on the links again, father and son. The score didn't matter, the game did, even if it was just a computer screen in an air conditioned room indoors. We were both taking dead aim at the flag in the distance and we were both trying to get our ball home in as few strokes as possible.

Later, we played the 18-hole putting course, and even though I play 5-6 times a week and he hasn't played in years, Dad held his own. The old guy may have hung up his clubs, but he's still a deadeye putter...and I didn't give him any quarter, I respect him too much for that. Each putt I took was true and I tried to hole every stroke. So did he. Funny thing was, even though i was giving it my best, I couldn't shake him in our match, and we went back and forth one-up, one down throughout the 18. I loved it, because we ended all square, both two over par of 36. Like the simulator the scores on the card didn't matter, the mere fact that the two of us were once again on the links together did. Old Rabbit and Middle Aged Rabbit, chasing the white ball down into the hole.

They say that the simple things in life are the best, and if I didn't believe it before, I do now: scores, clubs, rules, they're important but the most important thing of all is who we play with and how much we enjoy being with one another, no matter the course we play.

Once again, golf has taught me a life lesson.

I owe many a debt to my father, some huge, others smaller, and one of those things is the fact that he was the first one to put a crooked stick in my hand and tell me to take dead aim and send that egg laying in the grass down towards the flag. Being a modest man, he might say it was nothing, but it was a lot more than that -- Dad gave me a passion, a way to enjoy myself, to test myself, to succeed, fail, desire and most of all, keep on trying no matter what yesterday's score was. Those lessons went further than any golf course anywhere, and those things in part helped me become the man I am today: in a happy marriage, comfortable in my own skin and in the life I have worked to earn. It was a gift beyond price and I shall owe him eternally for that and for all the other things.

Give me two strokes on my card if you like, but I will give you this advice: take good care to play with your favorite golfing buddies whenever you can, because that ever ticking clock is absolutely right: tempest fugit, time is fleeting.


  1. My son, Matt, and I play with and against each other very, very frequently. This year will be the 20th consecutive Father/Son we have played in on Father's Day. My two best friends from high school play golf and we play together quite often. You are so right. It is special to share this great game with friends and relatives.

    My Dad died in 1983, a few years after I joined my current club. He never played, but he always asked me what I shot. Looking back, I probably lied to him and told him some number ten strokes lower than the truth.

  2. What a great post. My golfing loving father-in-law passed away several years ago. I tried to play when he was alive, but I wasn't a golfer yet. I remember he was always telling me how good I was as I grounded shot after shot. Now I understand.

    He never knew me as a golfer. I have some old Disney ball marks he gave me. Daffy Duck joins me for every tourney. Something about having him in my pocket that just feels right.

  3. Very well said, and so true about the passage of time and the importance of keeping strong bonds with friends and family.


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