The U.S. Open always makes me think of my dad.
It’s not just because of Father’s Day which is celebrated, as it is today, on the final day. That’s part of it. But mostly it’s the golf tournament.
Some time ago, when newspapers were making tidy profits and had money to throw around, they sent correspondents all over the country. I was dispatched to several U.S. Opens. Off hand I don’t recall how many. Maybe five? I know I was at today’s site, Shinnecock Hills.
It seemed enormously important and all-consuming at the time. Usually wasn’t until Friday that someone would say something about Father’s Day and I would smack myself on the forehead. Like generations of self-absorbed adult sons, I’d forgotten.
And that is why my father had an impressive collection of golf shirts from various U.S. Open sites. I’d rush over to the merchandise tent, buy one, pay to have it shipped and go back to wondering if Tiger hit too much club on his approach to 14.
By the way — quick digression — the U.S. Open is the best. There is always talk about how the difficult setup is “embarrassing” the greatest golfers on earth.
To which I say: Duh. That’s the best part of it. A frustrating day on a difficult course? Trying to control your emotions after a bad break? Terrific. How do you like that for a change, guys? Welcome to my round.
By the way, the golfers know it is huge. Otherwise they wouldn’t grind so hard and be so thrilled to win.
Anyhow, at some point after the Open our family would fly out to see mom and dad. And my dad, without exception, would be wearing one of those U.S. Open golf shirts.
Because I sent him that shirt and he was going to wear it. That’s what you do. It is all about being thoughtful.
This is the guy who, when he got a computer, believed that automatic spell-checking was accomplished by putting a large group of technicians in a big room somewhere, where they would read over everyone’s shoulder and hit a button to correct the spelling.
In addition — and this is so my dad — he would often stop before he finished writing a letter, because he felt like “the guys” had been working pretty hard and deserved a break.
I would have to smile when I saw the golf shirt. Because my dad didn’t know Shinnecock Hills from the white cliffs of Dover.
He didn’t follow golf. He didn’t watch golf. He didn’t ask me about golf.
So it is funny to say that he played golf. Late in his life, he rediscovered the game.
Dad and a couple of buddies from the adult residential community found a beat-up nine hole course they could play for less than $10. They got out there regularly and really seemed to enjoy it.
Which gave me another chance to play the clueless adult son. At a golf shop one day I spotted an extremely high-tech driver on sale. It was by one of the top club makers and until the next big breakthrough arrived, it was the driver of choice on tour.