(Adapted from the June/July 2o15 issue of Golf Chicago Magazine)
I was at the golf store last weekend for an iron fitting; Spieth’s Augusta drubbing coupled with blind trust in my brother’s equipment knowledge led me to the Titleist AP2s. I’ve never owned a set of irons that were made after I hit puberty. Brian, the club expert, worked with me for 15 minutes as I blasted balls. We small talked a bit until he asked if I had kids. “Not yet,” I said, watching a 6-iron draw toward the flag. “My wife is due in July.”
“What is it?” I turned around.
Brian’s face had gone from relaxed sales guy to concerned uncle. “I’m going to grab another club. The AP1 is much more forgiving.” He shook his head. “Let’s be honest man. With a baby, your once-a-week days are over. Hell, I haven’t been out this year and I do this for a living. You need to be realistic.”
This has been the refrain from all of my father friends. There seems to be an unwritten rule that once baby enters, golf game exits. I understand that reversing this trend is almost impossible. I understand that I’m venturing into completely uncharted territory, a la Jerry Seinfeld in the January, 1995, “The Switch” episode, in which Jerry tells George of his intentions to date his girlfriend’s roommate:
GEORGE: Do you realize in the entire history of western civilization no one has successfully accomplished The Switch? In the Middle Ages you could get locked up for even suggesting it!
JERRY: The point is I intend to undertake this. And I’ll do it with or without you. So if you’re scared, if you haven’t got the stomach for this, let’s get it out right now! And I’ll go on my own. If not, you can get on board and we can get to work! Now what’s it going to be?
GEORGE: All right, dammit, I’m in.
JERRY: I couldn’t do it without you.
GEORGE: All right. Let’s get to work.
So I’m Jerry, and you, dear reader, are George. If you’re a dad, you can live vicariously as I try to find the white whale. My editor insists that my quest to play more golf as a new dad is futile, not to mention toxic to family life. He is venturing into year 12 of parenthood, and his game has steadily declined. But, call me Ishmael. If you’re an expecting dad, pay close attention. Step #1 in this process is crafting a persuasive letter to your wife, which you may or may not publish in a regional golf magazine.
You’re not a sap so I won’t waste time telling you how much I love you or how you’ve made the last three years of my life better than I could have imagined, or that you are the one woman on this planet who can love me unconditionally, or that I am ecstatic that you will be the mother of my child. Rather, I want to start by thanking you for being the most pleasant pregnant woman I’ve ever known. My friends warned me about their “irrational” or “hysterical” or “demonic” pregnant wives, but you, my love — aside from swallowing a basketball — have not changed. Further, at no point have you discouraged me from playing golf. In fact, you’ve encouraged it. Well, there has been the occasional “You better play a lot now because July will be here before you know it.”
About that… Remember when we read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages before the wedding? Of the five we both prefer “acts of service” and “quality time.” In fact, selflessness and your preference to spend on experiences rather than material goods were two of the qualities that drew me to you. Accordingly, I have always appreciated your willingness to let me protect my hobbies and relationships that are independent of you. As marriage guru Kahlil Gibran says, “Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.” Thanks for letting me have my own cup. I concede that my “acts of service” have been paltry at times. I’ve left dishes undone, lawns unmown, laundry unfolded, and floors unswept.
That’s about to change.
I will make you a deal. If you allow me to play golf at least once a week after our child is born, I vow the following:
I will not go to the course unless the sink is empty of dishes.
I will schedule tee times that are convenient for you instead of me.
I will bring my phone to the course and, if you need me immediately, I will walk off the course, no questions asked. note: If I’m under par on the back we may need to negotiate.
I will support you in your parallel endeavor that soothes the body, mind, and soul.
Once allowed, I will take the child with me and, in the interim, I will research golf cart baby attachments that may or may not include a Benadryl I.V.
Should you have any added stipulations, please let me know. I realize that this is a bold request, but because of your compassionate heart and rational mind, I know you will seriously consider it. Thank you and I love you.
Your loving husband, Rory
NOTE: Jerry never pulled off “The Switch,” but I’m convinced he went about it all wrong.