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  • Art Stricklin

Remembering a Golf Dad

No offense to any of the great golf teachers nationally and in Texas, many of whom I know personally and respect greatly, but the recent passing of my great golfing father at age 88 was not a huge loss to their profession or future business.I suspect my father was like millions of golfers’ nationwide. His golfing goal was all about being in the outdoors in scenic and historic locations with people he wanted to be with. No other reason but friendship, fellowship and fun. Scorecard optional, sometimes very optional.To the best of my knowledge, my dad only took two golf lessons in his lifetime and only played in one club tournament. He didn’t especially enjoy either, dad just wanted to play with family, thankfully me, and friends in fun surroundings.We played hundreds, if not thou-sands of rounds together all over the world. It was bonding not birdies and bogeys which kept us going. Family, not frustration, was part of every round.Hole in One? Ha! (although close one day at Royal Oaks CC in Dallas). Club championship. Never. True handi-cap, only when we went to Scotland. Double figure total score. Rarely.

We stood in Amen Corner while watching the Masters tournament, on the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews Old Course, by the first tee in bright sun-shine at Pebble Beach, mist at Brandon Dunes, driving rain at Prestwick. What did we shoot in those rounds? I couldn’t even tell you. But the fact we did it together was just another chapter in the family golf scrapbook.Before his funeral in Dallas, a friend gave me a great line which summed up my dad’s golf career. “Playing golf with your dad was like playing golf with (motivational speaker) Zig Ziglar or Norman Vincent Peale.”“He was always asking about how you were doing, how your family was getting along, what you were going through in life. Rarely, if ever, was it about golf unless he was telling you about another family golf adventure or asking about yours.”It’s not like he didn’t want to get better at golf, I’m sure he was not op-posed to it, but not at the expense of why he got involved in the first place. Hitting balls, putting, chipping on the range for hours, rushing off to get in his regular foursome on Saturday AM, nothing wrong with that at all, Just not what he was into.The chance to spend uninterrupted time with people he wanted to be with and the chance to raise money for a favorite cause or to help someone facing problems, that was the reason he played.He taught me plenty, including no complaining when you had a bad shot, “nobody wants to hear that.”Also, no talking after somebody else hits a bad one, “you don’t have to say anything, they already know it was bad,” plus sometimes you just need another try. I’ve seen him tee up another mul-ligan, while the first one was still in the area or rolling on the ground.”Of course, there was one time when it all came together for him on the golf course. We were playing at the scenic Tom Fazio designed Buffalo Ridge layout at Big Cedar Lodge in Branson.

For whatever reason, it was simply his day. The drives found the fairway, the approach shots hit the greens, the balls were rarely lost and putts went in the hole.Headed to the back nine it occurred to me this could be a record round of so many we played together. The longer the streak of good Senior Stricklin play went on the more nervous I got to see him achieve a rare on-course highlight. Finally, at the par 5 18th, I picked up my ball so eagerly to help him make his par putt on the closing hole.He stroked the putt solidly into the hole. A 90!! At age 80!!!Incredible for his age and ability.After hugging, we celebrated with my mom and others at Arnie’s Barn Restaurant at Big Cedar with our drinks of choice. Iced tea and Dr. Pepper. Just another chapter in the memory books.Ultimately, my dad lived up to the words of a long ago Jack Nicklaus TV interview.“The three most important things in golf,” the Golden Bear once said, “What did you shoot?Where did you play? Who did you play with? When you think about it, the first two don’t really matter at all.”So true. Thanks for all the rounds of golf and all the memories Dad. You always got one right, the other two don’t really matter at all.


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