Photo of Ladies' Golf Club of Toronto, by Pat Butler
Hanging out with teenagers made me euphoric.
I’ve always had a sweet tooth. In fact, I’m probably addicted to sugar. Whenever I’ve managed to stay away from refined sugar for a couple of days, I stop missing it. If I allow myself to binge on sweets my
blood sugar skyrockets, and when its effect has worn off, I feel crummy and ill-tempered.
It’s August 2023 and my 16-year-old grandson Jamie* has been visiting us from Alberta. About half an hour after he left to spend today with another grandparent my mood suddenly plummeted. Why? What’s going on with me? I wondered, I know. It’s what happens after the thrill of a high, only this one was emotional – not physical.
Being Together Again
Yesterday, August 17th, was one of the best days of my summer. Jamie arrived on the 15th, the first time he’s made the trip by himself. His Toronto-based cousin Max (17) has worked at my golf club all summer in the Back Shop–preparing, cleaning, and storing clubs. One of the job’s perks is the chance to play, so Max planned his final round for yesterday – his 15-year-old sister Maggie would ride along and keep score. Jamie and I joined his tee time. There was no pressure to play quickly, so we four were all relaxed, mellow, and delighted to be together in a new setting.
Regarding golfing experience, Jamie had previously only been to a few driving ranges with me, and we’d played 9 holes on a par-three course five years ago. Now his rental golf clubs sat beside my polka-dotted bag on a golf cart, and I asked him to drive. (Both Jamie and Max earned their driver’s licenses earlier this summer. Passing this key rite of passage bestowed each with new-found confidence and maturity – in my eyes anyway.)
Our two golf carts set off on this pleasantly warm and dry August afternoon, as lengthening shadows made the course absolutely stunning. The course’s superb maintenance coupled with this summer’s generous rainfall meant every fairway was free of bare patches and divots; every green was velvety smooth.
The afternoon’s dialogue consisted of remarks like these: Great shot. Good try. Excellent putt. You were robbed. Just forget that lost ball and use another. Wow! Much camaraderie, laughter, and mutual encouragement among the four of us. What a treat to be the sole adult with these three teenagers, whom I’ve known since birth! They hadn’t been in each other’s company since we rented a Muskoka cottage in 2018, due to other family plans and the godawful COVID pandemic. Earlier in the week a family meal and Blue Jays game had jump-started their reconnecting.
The Allure of Golf
Personally, I celebrate the fact that every casual golfer tests their skill against the course – not against another person, an inherent aspect of a tennis match. (For a tennis game to be fun, opponents should be at roughly the same level.) The three of us produced enough successful shots to surprise ourselves, which I think is golf’s principal allure for the amateur. That’s what keeps me coming back anyway.
It was especially exciting for this grandmother to watch Jamie’s eyes widen with joy every now and then during his first round of genuine golf. Most of his shots were pretty good with several being outstanding. Max’s golfing skill has steadily improved during his third summer of occasional play. Both boys are natural athletes, unlike yours truly, so he’s parred holes that I can only double bogey.
During the afternoon the kids consumed the drinks and snacks they’d chosen at the Pro Shop. As this was the first time Jamie and Maggie had been to my 18-hole course they were both impressed with its beauty and 100-year-old layout. There’s an interesting ravine at the 8th and 13thholes whose steep cart paths take careful navigation.
After a while we stopped calling out our scores for each hole to Maggie. (I never did learn my total but who cares?) We decided to quit after the 15th hole as it was past suppertime and Max had to be at work at 6 am the next day. For a speedy supper we headed to McDonald’s with Max and Maggie following in their parents’ car – another momentous first for me to witness.
The profundity of my grandparent-happiness finally hit home the next day. When trying to figure out why I felt a bit depressed it suddenly became apparent, and the metaphor of a sugar-high popped into my head.
Spending four and a half hours in their company highlighted these characteristics: my love for these three young people, my pride in their current states of being and accomplishments to date, my confidence in their futures, their senses of humour and politeness, their affection for each other and for me. What a privilege.
Yesterday, August 17th, 2023 was one of the best days of my life.
* All names have been changed.