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Like the golf swing, falling-for-golf moments are both simple and intricate.
A softball player who grounded out on his first swing, then homered on his second. A story of a 4-iron, a car and “rolling-on-the-ground” laughter. And this:
“Her father informed me that if I wanted to date her I had to pass two requirements: 1) like my steak rare; and 2) golf with him.”
A few weeks back, after being asked the question myself over the summer and also being curious by other answers, I published a piece on “falling-for-golf” moments. Rory dished on his. MJ, too. I even tracked down the thoughts of my 13-year-old nephew. But in it, too, was a call for yours, dear readers, and you answered as well as I hit that 5-wood all those years back that has kept me coming back for more.
With that then, here are your falling-for-golf moments.
My introduction and addiction began with my working the spotlight for a dance review. A pretty, young dancer was sent up to bring me my schedule, as the interphone was out of service. Turns out that I ended up dating the dancer — and her father informed me that if I wanted to date her I had to pass two requirements: 1) like my steak rare; and 2) golf with him.
He taught me the game, and we had many outings over the years. Oh, and the girl, well, we have two daughters, 10 grandkids, three great grands — and I still walk 18 every chance I get. — Bob Brackett, via email
Summer of 1966, Kenny Jackson invited Ronnie Clevenger and I to play on a par-3 course. Kenny owned a pitching wedge, 7-iron and putter. Ronnie borrowed a putter and a 4-iron — which none of us could hit — and I went to Kmart and paid $5 for an 8-iron and off we went. We were brutal. On the second tee, Ronnie said, “I’m going to coldcock this one,” and promptly shanked it onto the road paralleling the course, where it was on a collision course with a car. Fortunately, it short-hopped the front tire and was last seen bouncing down Northshore Drive at 35 mph. We were rolling on the ground laughing until we cried. As the three of us left the course that day, I knew the game had me for two reasons: 1) I had to prove to myself I could play it; and 2) I wanted to laugh that hard with my friends again and again. — Gary Tullock, via email
I don’t have one particular moment, but rather memories of playing as a 10-15-year-old with my dad and twin brother in the twilight and gloaming on the course where we were members growing up. As a father of a son with disabilities that prevent him from playing the game of a lifetime, those memories are particularly poignant. — Jeff Pryznyk, via email
The first $5 I ever took off a friend. Was hooked after that. Friends’ golf course money is my favorite money.
The year was 1996, front nine, Cherokee Hills, Bellefontaine, Ohio. My name is John Stamper, and I had recently earned a new nickname from my work friends’ softball team. They started calling me the Wubba Stamper after my ability to consistently hit safely. I was a very consistent .850 hitting/RBI machine. Like when you use a rubber stamp — same results every time!! It stuck, and they call me the Wubba to this day.
One of those friends, Larry, asked me at work if I had ever played golf. I told him no, but my interest had piqued after watching some kid from Stanford’s “Hello, World” thing earlier that summer. He was spectacular. One word — TIGER.
So on an August Saturday afternoon, Larry and I showed up at a local golf course. He told me it would be better this way since football was just ramping up and the course would be empty for a beginner like me. I had an old set of Nomad irons another person had given me that he just didn’t use. I did not have a driver, but I did have a Wilson 4-wood — and barely an idea of the way it worked. Sure, I knew basic concepts like scorekeeping and such, but I was LIME GREEN.
First hole, 335-yard par-4. Larry tees one up, takes a nice, long, languid, slow swing and corks one out about 250. I was amazed how far it went as slow as he swung. I tee up the 4-wood and top it about 30 yards. Bummer!
But I’m away, he tells me; it’s still my shot. Not being sure of how far I hit anything, I confided in my pal, and he suggested the 7-iron. Before I did anything, he gave me an impromptu lesson right there in the rough behind the red tees. Keep the left arm straight all the way back, swing with your hips — he gave me a visual — put your right elbow in your right front pocket on the way back down and keep your eye on the ball. I made about 10 practice swings until I thought it felt right, stepped in, addressed the ball and pulled the trigger.
I didn’t have to look up to know where it was.
I FREAKING FLUSHED IT!!!
No sound, felt like butter, controlled yet violent.
H O O K E D !!!!!!!
The ball landed about 30 yards short of the green, but miraculously I chipped on and two-putted for bogey. I shot a 54 on my first nine ever, and thanks to Larry, I have been playing ever since. We’ve been playing partners in the same league for a few years, and I thank him for introducing me to the game whenever I get the chance.
Usually when I beat him on a hole. LOL.
(P.S. I still have that Nomad 7-iron and the set it came in — 3 through PW.) — John “Wubba” Stamper, via email
When I was a young kid. We were at a family picnic when my friend’s parents asked if we wanted to play golf. I was all in for mini-golf! When they dropped us off, it was at a real, legit golf course. Rented clubs, strapped them to my back, and we were off to the races. I was instantly hooked! — Oh Frey, via GOLF.com Facebook’s page
Mine was at MacDill Air Force Base around 2004. First time on a course and sponsored by Robert W Turk. I think I shot maybe 142 but got hooked when I shot an 11 on one hole and got laughed at — I was like, ‘Imma show you.’ Seventeen years later, I’ve beaten par multiple times and carded a 69 once. Thanks, Turk. LOL. — Cranston Harris, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
My introduction to golf occurred at Overton Park Golf Course in Memphis in 1960. (I was 11 years old.) I was taken by one of my dad’s best friends and his oldest son, who was a year younger than me. A cutdown bag of clubs was provided. My opening tee shot honestly surprised me. It probably went about 80 yards and straight. I don’t remember a lot about other shots, but I remember feeling good about myself — I shot a nine-hole score of 60.
I was a short and small kid. I was almost always the last pick in playground games at school. My value in sports up until then had been decided by other boys and/or coaches. Golf freed me to compete on my own terms. I knew that day that I would play golf the rest of my life — and I have. Still loving the game and the diverse people I have met over the decades. — Kent Owen, via email
My mother was an avid golfer. One day, I found her golf bag in a closet and took out a golf ball. I raised it up, let it go, and it bounced so high I couldn’t believe it. The smell of the balata really appealed to me. I went on to win three club championships, but my love of golf started with that first bounce. — Hunter Thomas, via email
First time I got the ball off the ground I was hooked. I was in my 40s. Still hitting it at 80. Not always off the ground, but usually straight. Love this game. — Carolyn Barlett, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
Moving next to the 15th hole at Green Hills CC as a 6-year-old. — Bruce Effisimo, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
Friend of mine took me to play. I had an old set of Wilsons and never really took it seriously. First hole, par-5, and I flushed my 4-iron from the fairway to get on the green in two. That feeling hooked me. Been chasing it ever since. — Glenn Begg, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
First time I pured a 7, I was hooked. — Dan Rosenbach, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
I started playing golf more regularly when I was in my mid-20s, with some guys from work. We played nine holes after work at least once a week, and I had improved to a bogey golfer. One day, things just fell into place and I shot even par on nine holes. I was definitely hooked after that. — Wade Stinson, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
I grew up with few neighbors in a Rochester, N.Y., suburb, but luckily there was a golf course nearby. Durand Eastman Park Golf Course was not too special — it had lots of dirt tees and was certainly unmanicured — but it was close to home and affordable. I started out as a 9-year-old walking the narrow ditch and in the dense woods looking for golf balls, and then at about 11, I started playing rounds. I never had a specific ‘falling-for-golf’ moment because it was always part of my life. I played junior golf, high school golf and college golf, and I played through jobs and marriage and a child, and golf was always there for me, year after year.
I never really thought about this much until I read a quote from Mark O’Meara in which he said that golf is his friend. This really made me realize that golf is my friend, too, to think about (especially how to putt better), to read about (ditto), to practice (no need asking golf to go chip with me; it’s all ready to go) and to help me get off the couch and get outdoors. For 60-plus years, golf has always been there to entertain me and keep me company. I know I would not have had such a rich and interesting life without it. — Tom Gillette, via email
Watching Tiger win his third amateur championship. An amazing, come-from-behind victory. — Stephen Holland, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
Tiger vs Rocco — Daniel Liebman, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
I’ve loved golf from a young age. Played fairly regularly from 8 to 18. The moment was being on the eighth green of the Ryder Cup. The finger wag and putt of Patrick Reed. I was so ready to go swing. Still carry that drive with me. The roar was deafening. — Ian Rose, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
Jack Nicklaus ’86 Masters. Amazing back nine that lit my fire. — Steve Parks, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
Lee Trevino’s chip on 17 at the ’72 Open Championship. — Bob Neal, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
Trevino, Jack, Tom, Chi-Chi — David Ervin, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
John Daly in 1991, the wild thing. You, Colm Burke? — Sean Bohan, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
Sean Bohan, this story. — Colm Burke, via GOLF.com’s Facebook page
Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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