What are you cooking up this Golf Thanksgiving?
A quick pre-feast nine, perhaps?
A Black Friday family round to escape the shopping throng?
An, “OK, what the hell” Black Friday golf shopping spree, either in person (good luck!) or online?
A golf movie marathon digestif, starting with “Tin Cup,” rolling through “Happy Gilmore” and “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” going deep with “Seven Days And Utopia,” “Tommy’s Honour” and “Follow The Sun,” and wrapping up with “The Legend of Bagger Vance” and, of course, “Caddyshack?”
All worthy pursuits for my fellow golf nuts. I’ve indulged in a few of them myself over the decades.
As a teen and young man—long before I was the cook in the family, our kitchen transformed into my personal Thanksgiving kingdom—I’d sneak out onto a SoCal muni with my old man and a brother-in-law or two while other family members whipped up the feast.
A bit later, I’d plop in front of the tube to watch the original make-for-TV Skins Game, first with Jack and Lee and Arnie, then with the likes of Freddie and Greg.
Black Friday rounds? Oh, heck yeah.
The movie marathon? Have yet to go there, but with temps in the low 30s forecast for my hometown, this may be the year. Short of that, I can relive this year’s majors online somewhere.
So, we all agree that this uniquely American four-day weekend gives golfers plenty of ways to indulge in their favorite game.
But I’d wager that all of us have a handful of “staple dishes” that feed our love for golf day to day, year to year.
I certainly do: My Golf Thanksgiving Top Five.
While I’ve never had a regular teaching pro in my life, I’ve worked with lots of them one-on-one, from the guy who originally taught me swing basics at age 12 to the talented and dedicated folks who have sized up my flaws within seconds and helped me maintain a decent handicap for a dude who rarely practices and plays not nearly often enough.
Many of them I’ve met as editor of Golf Tips, which, in turn, gives me the perfect vessel to pass those teachers’ wisdom onto you. So here you are—start with our “main course”— lessons from our Top 25—then fill your plate with classics like this ever-popular collection of tips, and keep on chowing down on the ever-excellent information throughout this site.
Over 20 years of writing about golf I’ve been beyond fortunate to travel to destinations known to even non-golfers, like Pebble Beach or St. Andrews (where I finally played the Old Course this past October), to many more places known more to avid players, both within the United States to farther-afield favorites in Canada, the Caribbean, England, Ireland, Wales, Mexico, Thailand and others. All occupy a special spot in my golfer’s fevered heart.
But often the rounds that stick most magically in our minds are those experienced just a town or two away, in the next state over, maybe even at a muni down the street. Because memorable shots, in the company of old friends or brand-new ones, happen anywhere.
It’s now a threadbare conversation among my fellow golf scribes, but if not for the epochal talent and cultural reach of Tiger I wouldn’t be doing what I do for a living today. Nor would many golfers have taken up the sport, or given it a second look, without his undeniable influence.
Sure, like many folks I’ve had my issues with his attitude, his life choices, his aloofness, but I also rejoiced as he came all the way back to Masters glory this year—and I welcome his resurgence not only as a competitive force, but as a game-wide leader.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Allow me a cliché: A good golf club is like a trusty friend. By “good” I mean a driver, wedge or putter, in particular, that are all but impossible to set aside for years at a time.
Any semi-serious golfer knows what I’m talking about. I know folks who have wielded the same wand for decades, or who keep a particular sand wedge alive with new grips and weights and whatever, even as the grooves start to disappear.
Don’t get me wrong—I love technology, relish every time a new club, ball or gadget shows up on my doorstep for review, and marvel at how an expertly designed and constructed, properly fitted stick can truly improve the average player’s game.
But once in a while there comes a club that just feels right from the moment you first grip it, produces shots you didn’t think you had, and stokes confidence from then on. The go-to club. Thanks, Golf Gods!
FRIENDS AND FACES
Golf is an individual pursuit, but it’s a social one, too. Playing with longtime friends on a semi-regular basis is great; having a regular game with them, enjoying their company, applauding their great shots and ribbing them for less-than-great ones, as my dad did for many years, is pure magic.
Still, there’s something to be said for teeing it up with strangers. I’m a loner by nature and don’t mind enjoying a solo round here and there, but nothing brings me more joy than making new acquaintances on a first tee. I love getting to know them from hole to hole—through the way they play but, more importantly, through what they talk about between shots, the stories they weave, the jokes they tell. I always come away with a broader perspective of who shares my passion for golf, and never fail to make a new buddy.
But the game’s special ability to bridge the generations is what I’m most thankful for.
My father got me into the game. I got my son into it, and look forward to taking on ever course at Bandon Dunes with him next summer, after he returns from several years’ worth of duty in Afghanistan and the horn of Africa, both as an Army specialist and a private military contractor.
Then it’s time to teach my two grandsons to play. They are 6 and 4, so it’s coming quick, and I can’t wait. I’m thankful for the chance to share the game of golf with them, to light the fire and watch them carry it forward.
In the end, that’s what the game is all about.