I guess I should pull my clubs out more than once every 11 or so years. But the last time I played, I played with Gumpy the summer before his heart valve replacement and pancreatic cancer diagnosis and a part of me couldn't see enjoying cow pasture pool without him.
My clubs have made at least five moves with me since I last played with him. Each time, I think I should just sell the clubs instead of lug them to another location and each time, I decide against it. They've collected dust for the past two years in our basement.
They saw the light of day because a few colleagues were playing in a best-ball tournament and needed someone else to fill out the foursome (the foursome was never filled, by the way). I decided that I should try again and if I really didn't enjoy myself, the next time my clubs would see daylight would be at our neighborhood yard sale.
The first few swings were rough. My muscle memory was gone. I couldn't find my stance but I'd bought a large bucket of balls to hit and I hate wasting money, so I pressed on. Eventually, I remembered a few things and the swing started coming back. I would hit a ball well and smile, knowing that Gumpy would have been encouraging me. I would shank the next one, and I would smile knowing that Gumpy would have told me what I needed to do differently on the next swing. When I walked off the driving range, I was sore and on a mission to find a new bag.
Today, armed with new golf shoes, a new bag and 36 new golf balls, I hit the links for the PRSA Open. It took a few holes, but I finally started to hit the ball pretty well all things considered. I can't muscle the ball the way I used to, which is probably why I was able to hit the ball pretty straight when I did make good contact, a fact that would have amused Gumpy to no end. When I had a bad shot, I didn't dwell on it like I used to, which would have made Gumpy proud. I was able to enjoy Gumpy's favorite game him physically there with me, even though I felt closer to him than I have in years.
All the good memories I have of playing golf with Gumpy came dripping back to me, hole after hole. I'm glad I pulled the clubs out of the basement and I promise, it won't be another 11 years before I bring them out again.