How I See It, by Joe McHaney
- Joe McHaney
- Madras Pioneer - Sports
I have played hundreds of rounds of golf, some good, some bad, and I've had many fond memories on the golf course over the past 12 years, but the round that I played July 3 has overshadowed all my previous rounds.
>Top golf round in my history
No, I didn't achieve my first hole-in-one. No, I didn't post my best score. No, I didn't check off one of the sensational courses on my bucket list. And no, I didn't win a golf tournament or punish my friends with a verbal beating because I dominated them on the golf course like the Oregon Ducks have the Oregon State Beavers in football in recent years.
Instead, the round was special to me because for the first time in my near 33-year-old life, I had the privilege to play with my grandpa - my 88-year-old grandpa.
Why we have never played before I don't know. Mainly it's been because we have lived apart, and because in my days as a youth when I spent the most time with my grandpa and grandma, I spent it on their ranch in Medical Springs, which was miles and miles from a golf course.
That being said, my grandpa moved from Madras to Reno several years ago and began playing golf again with my uncle Bill. Periodically, we've talked on the phone about his re-found hobby and how excited he was to play me when he came to visit over the Fourth of July week.
So, we did just that by venturing up to Desert Peaks Golf Club for a round of nine holes because 18 holes on an 88-year-old man could send him to the recliner for days of needed relaxation.
Prior to the round, my grandpa needed to borrow a pair of golf shoes. Luckily, I had an extra pair, size 11, and it was a perfect fit for my grandpa who has nearly the same build as me. It was in the parking lot at Desert Peaks where he slipped those shoes on, and that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks -- this round was going to be unlike anything I had experienced before in my life.
I had never seen my grandpa in a pair of Nike shoes of any kind. He looked pretty good after he tied the laces tight and stood up. But, it was when he slipped those shoes on that my mind began to race. When I handed him those Nike golf spikes, I couldn't help but wonder what his size 11s felt like in his boots he wore during World War II. I'd heard stories of how his socks would wear down to nothing after weeks and weeks without a clean pair, and I wondered as we approached the clubhouse just where exactly he walked in his military boots, thankful that they never turned permanently upwards.
As we drove up to the first hole, my grandpa was so excited he couldn't sit still. I wasn't sure if I had my 2-year-old daughter Rylee playing with me or my grandpa. We shared clubs that day, and my grandpa reached for my oversized driver, stepped up to the tee box and ripped a drive 150 yards straight down the fairway. I was shocked. My jaw dropped like I'd just seen Carrie Underwood step out of the water onto the beach in a bikini. On his next shot, he used a 3-wood and ripped it 100 yards straight down the fairway. My grandpa did this on every single hole, aside from the par 3s where he used irons off the tee box.
I have never seen him golf before, and I had no idea that he was that precise.
That day, we told golf jokes, laughed and made our way through Desert Peaks. He told stories I'd heard many times before, and we battled breezy conditions to find nine of those 4 1/4-inch golf cups with our 1.68-inch golf balls.
I was amazed by my grandpa's play. He never slowed me up one time, he never found major trouble and he played the game like you are supposed to -- with honesty and integrity.
Several times as he gripped my clubs with his hands, I wondered what it was like for him in trenches as he gripped his rifle. Surely, he didn't have a soft grip like he did July 3 at Desert Peaks. I wondered when I handed him clubs if he really did feel an electric shock the first time he touched my grandma's hand when helping her cross the street nearly 66 years ago.
I was so in tune to a man I have admired and looked up to my entire life, I wasn't able to concentrate on my round all that much. Several times after tee shoes, my grandpa spoke with pride in his voice, telling me he had never seen a golfer hit the ball as far as me, that I could strike it farther than Tiger Woods.
As the round neared its conclusion, my grandpa looked at me on the fairway of the par-5 ninth hole and told me it was the best round he had ever played, and it wasn't because of his score, as he posted a 55, which he always posts. At my parents' house that evening, my grandpa spoke to my family as if I had just won the Masters or the U.S. Open. He was proud, and he was impressed with my play. I didn't get a chance to speak much that night, as I let him do most of the talking, but little does he know it was my best round ever, and it had nothing to do with my score.