It’s the morning of the annual golf trip, (this past Sunday), the 5th anniversary of what has become a great tradition and the same morning we are sending both my girls off to sleepaway camp in West Virginia. It’s 5:30am and I go to wake my youngest, Emily, so she can get ready for the bus, which would arrive in just one hour. One big problem, Emily is hot, 102 degree fever. We have little time to decide how to strategize, what to do. And my wife Debbie says she’s not feeling well either… the options are narrowing, the odds are not in my favor. Sometimes life does this to you….
The Worthington Overlook Golf Outing, affectionately known as WOGO, was born back in 2008, when after nearly five years of talking a big game, which is easy for guys to do, I got up off my ass and organized the damn thing. Twelve guys from our neighborhood, old friends and new ones, traveled together up to Pennsylvania for three days of golf and laughs and whatever else… at Heritage Hills in York.
I always knew if the first year was a big hit, and how could it not be, we would set the precedent for an annual event. I was right. Look, in life you are judged by your actions, not your intentions. Once we took action, put the wheels in motion and got this event cranked up, it was game on. The names and participants change a bit year to year, with some new faces and friends from outside of our neighborhood, and sometimes different reasons why one, or two of the core group can’t make it, but the tradition continues. After year one in PA, we’ve been to Myrtle Beach, Ocean City, MD and this year, Atlantic City. Ask anyone involved and they’ll tell you the gamble we took to get this thing off the ground has paid off, again and again.
And though no one is joining the PGA Tour anytime soon, (except maybe Joel Monroe, though by the time he earns it, it would be the Senior Tour), and some of us should be questioned as to the intelligence of even holding a club in our hands, it’s all worth it.
No matter what your level of expertise, your handicap, how much time you spend in the woods, how many balls you hit in the water, in the marsh, in the sand, on the wrong fairway, driving your cart in the wrong direction, ducking errant slices in the fairway, three and four putts, drawing snowmen on your scorecard, miscounting your strokes (an art form), or peeing anywhere and everywhere along the course… the experience can’t be beat.
And after the round of 18 is complete, (6 hours+ for some of us), everyone is back on the same level playing field, raising a glass, bottle, or can and a toast to what life is really about, friendship, a few laughs, well, actually a lot more than a few, and creating memories we will talk about all of our lives. Lives enhanced by a tradition we hope goes for a long, long time.
This year's crew: Joel Monroe, Stevan Simons, Keith Miller, Peter Talbot, Keith Carswell, Mitchell Platt, Barry Flacks, Billy Holzman, Rich Rapkin, Robbie Bark, Mark Hertzberg and oh yeah, yours truly.
And like we talk about each and every year, the best part of the trip is when the early morning golf round ends and you realize we've got 12 guys, with the rest of the day ahead of us and NO place we HAVE to be… you can just simply BE.
… and sometimes you just get lucky. There was no way Emily could go to sleepaway camp Sunday morning, we couldn't take the chance she would get sicker, or make someone else sick. One of us would have to take her to West Virginia on our own, when Emily felt better. Debbie demanded I still go on the golf trip, she knows what it means to me, and she would find a way, probably drive with a friend the next day if Emily's fever broke and she could go. Emily, who is only 11, was pretty upset about missing the bus ride and traveling to camp with all her friends. I wasn't all that happy about leaving her like that, nor Deb, who wasn't feeling herself, but I would be back by Tuesday afternoon.
As it turned out Emily wasn't ready to go the next day, but Deb felt she would be ready by Tuesday, so we worked out a deal for me to come back early Tuesday morning and drive her up to camp, which is 3-1/2 hours each way, if there was no traffic.
But the long car ride gave me time to reflect on the past few days:
The golf was great. The bonding was better. But then I dropped off Emily safely at camp. The hug, the smile, the look in her eyes and the "thank you", as she choked back tears… was priceless.
Sometimes you just get lucky.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.