When I was in high school, thanks to my friend Matt Sholler who introduced me to the idea, I learned how to be a Caddie at the Kalamazoo Country Club. It was a good summer high school gig. I made anywhere from $25 – $35 a round (which usually took 4 hours or less) and grabbing 4 rounds a week – had a good sum of spending cash for the summer and for the college fund.
In addition, the Kalamazoo Country Club operates the Glen C. Smith Jr Caddie Scholarship program, of which I was blessed to be a recipient of. You know, $3600 over 4 years isn’t a bad thing to have when one follows higher education.
Aside from the money, what I also came away with in these years is an appreciation for the game of golf. A lot of people will say that golf is boring, but I would venture to say that they haven’t actually played the game. Golf is an amazing game that will tear you down, build you up, and leaving wanting more while swearing to give up the game.
There are two men who taught me the most about the game. Danny Parker, who was my constance loop during the KCC Invitation tournaments every year until he passed away. The other guy is John W. Allen, who was my first loop as a caddie.
John, who I still exchange Christmas cards annually, is a lawyer in Kalamazoo and was in charge of the Caddie scholarship program when I was young. He is an expert on the rules of golf and made sure that anyone who played with him and anyone who caddied for him learned those rules as well, not to keep people from “cheating” but to learn how both the letter of the rules and spirit of the rules can help a player do better in the game … and in life.
Which brings me to the subject of tonights blog. In 2011, John wrote a little paperback book titled “The Finding of Farnsworth, and all proceeds from the book go to support the Caddie Scholarship (yes, I’m plugging the book – in case you didn’t catch that).
The plot of the book revolves around two characters, “The Oldest Member” and “Philo J. Farnsworth”. It begins with Farnsworth storming off the golf course, having played a horrible round and losing a couple of bets. As the story unfolds, the Oldest Member teaches lessons about golf and convinces Farnsworth that he shouldn’t give up the game “just because it isn’t fair.” Farnsworth should stick with the game because it’s a mystery. This quote, I think really sums up the magic nicely:
The Great Game of Golf remains an intriguing mystery simply because it is a challenge which is never conquered. The player must overcome, not only the course and the elements, but also, and by far most importantly, he must overcome himself … which, of course, he never does.
He goes onto explain that the challenge of the game is something that each player defines and redefines for themselves. “Golf is a challenge you can never ‘win’ … and that isn’t at all fair. It’s much better than that; it’s what makes it fun.”
OK, so what’s the point? Simple … Golf is like our lives. While we don’t know how many rounds we have been given to play or how many days we’ve been given to enjoy, each day’s challenge is different and it is up to us to define what that is.
Life isn’t fair, but life is fun … and for me that makes all the difference, no matter what kind of Monday I have.
One last plug – if you’re interested in getting a copy of The Finding of Farnsworth drop John an email at: email@example.com … and feel free to support future caddies who come from my hometown.