As Father’s Day approaches, I see that many gifts for the modern day dad center around the game of golf. A well-meaning son or daughter can purchase all sorts of papa paraphernalia–from a golf monogram stamper that will personalize balls lost in the rough to hundreds of books with titles like Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die as if your life is one long series of par fives. A lot of fathers I know golf, even my own who tees up with my younger brother Eddie in Orlando at least once a month. I never hit the links myself so my kids are more likely to get me a giftcard to Borders than a box of Titleists. However, this Father’s Day, I may need a golf club for a reason Tiger Woods has never dreamed of.
When my family first moved to our neighborhood on the West Side of Santa Fe over five years ago, I loved the park close to our house, and the Santa Fe River (albeit bone dry) behind it, but there was at least one thing that puzzled me. Early in the morning and at dusk, I’d see men and woman walking alone or in groups, often pushing strollers or walking, and one person was always carrying a golf club. I asked my next door neighbors if there was a pitch-n-putt or miniature golf course nearby, and I could tell from their quizzical looks that they thought I was some golf nut that couldn’t afford to live in a condo overlooking the ninth green.
As my children grew older and my young son more mobile, we started taking long walks in the neighborhood where I discovered a new defining attribute to our area of town. It seemed as if every other house held a barking or growling dog behind a variety of types of fencing. One day the four of us turned a corner and a few pooches seemed to be holding a neighborhood watch meeting under a streetlight. I don’t know if they were friendly or not, but we turned and took an alternate route back to the safety of our own adobe wall. As we scurried home with our tails between our legs, I wished that I had something that would make me feel more confident around our streets. Something like, well, a golf club.
There’s a man in our neighborhood, my wife and I call “The Preacher” since he always dresses in black and has the eyewear and erect gate of a classic Southern Minister. When he takes his granddaughter for an evening stroll, he twirls a 3 wood like it was a pearl tipped cane. I want to be like him. So this year, for Father’s Day, I may ask my five-year-old son and ten-year-old daughter that instead of making me a sandwich, they should buy me a sand wedge, the perfect gift for a father in our neck of the woods.