The love of the game

August 7, 2023

   He can smash a drive 300 plus yards; more significantly, he’ll hit it straight down the middle of the fairway. He hits greens in regulation, chips and putts well. He has recently begun breaking 70 for 18 holes on a championship-length course. Oh, and he’s only 15. And, of course, I hate him.

“Those who can do, those who can’t teach, and those who can’t teach write about it, I guess.”

   Don’t be ridiculous, I don’t actually hate him. He’s Carol’s grandson, for crying out loud. I admire him greatly for his approaching mastery of a game that I had once dreamed of mastering myself. When I was about 15, I boldly announced to my parents that I intended to become a professional golfer. They looked at me as if I’d told them I intended to become pope. Mind you, I hadn’t even broken 100 on a regulation golf course as yet (and I wouldn’t until I was about 30). By contrast, when Parker was still playing t-ball, his parents offered him a choice of baseball or golf. He chose golf, and would go on to break 100 for the first time by the time he was seven. Those who can do, those who can’t teach, and those who can’t teach write about it, I guess.

   When I first started getting paid regularly as a writer, it was writing about golf and how badly I played it. Readers apparently found it amusing that I would lovingly write about a game that hated me back. But I kept at both until the skill level of one far exceeded the skill level of the other. It’s not a mystery why anymore. Watching Parker play and knowing the hours he enjoys putting into practicing, it’s no different than all the years I’ve enjoyably put into writing, rewriting, deleting and then writing again. We both love our games, but we also love the work we put into them. And the two are not as different as you might think.

Parker putting at Rancho Bernardo (some question marks, but a few exclamation points too)

   The golf course is like the book you set out to write. Each hole is a chapter, each shot is a paragraph. The putt is the sentence and the hole is the punctuation. Some golf courses might overwhelm you, some holes certainly will, as will some shots and maddeningly, an awful lot of putts. And the hole might turn out to be a period, an exclamation point or many times, a question mark. It’s the same for writing, following along with the analogy. In both instances the love of the game comes from finding success from failure after failure – and loving the work of that finding.

Doing a little putting of my own

   There are many ways to define success in golf and in writing, none of which needs  ultimately to result in major championships or Pulitzer Prizes. It’s the love of the game that brought you here in the first place, and the love of the game that will keep you here no matter what the outcome. It’s the reason you’ll give every time you’re asked, “why do you keep playing?”

 Parker with golf club age 2ish (A future star is born)

  Parker and  I both know, from different generations playing different versions of the game, the answer to that question the first moment we wake up every morning. It’s been a kind of deja-vu watching him grow as a golfer the way I grew as a writer.

  1. Mary Wonderlick says:

    what time zone is this site? – I commented at 3:07P and 3:08P CDT. It says 9:07 and 08P

  2. Mary Wonderlick says:


  3. Mary Wonderlick says:


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