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Editorial: Golf always fun while playing with dad

I once loved to play golf.

Two or three times a week, sometimes more, I would hit the links just to knock a little ball around for a few hours. I loved it; never really got very good, but I loved it just the same. It didn’t hurt that the game usually came with plenty of beer.

Then I quit.

Cold turkey. (Golf, not beer!)

The year was 2005. I had just gotten married. We had a new yard that needed work. Don’t get me wrong, I loved yard and garden work as much as I did golf.

And my dad had just died.

George Herman Barnhardt Sr., you may have known him as “Hump,” or “Pete,” but I just knew him as my old man.

And best friend.

In the last 15 to 20 years of his life, we rarely missed a week when we didn’t play golf together. Sometimes with a few of my buddies, but more likely with a few of his old cronies.

Every time, he made me proud. I was proud of the way he treated his friends. There were a couple of those cronies who obviously didn’t like each other (They would tell me behind the other one’s back.), but they played a regular threesome with my dad twice a week. Why would you play golf regularly with someone you really didn’t care for?

My dad. He made it fun for everyone.

Everyone I’ve ever played golf with – including his old cronies – tried to get better. They did that by keeping score. My dad didn’t care about the score. If it were up to him, there wouldn’t have been a scorecard in the golf cart. He was there to have fun. Period. And fun he did have. I never remember him in a bad mood – not even a little bit – while on the golf course. I’ll never forget the day he was laughing hard while the golf cart was screaming down a steep hill. Then a grasshopper flew into his mouth. Luckily, we kept the cart from turning over. The result? Everyone within sight was laughing – including my dad.

Golfing with dad taught me many lessons.

Be kind to everyone.

Be patient.

Do your best.

Have fun, it’s infectious.

Don’t get wrapped up in someone else’s bad traits, and don’t hold those bad traits against them. I’ll use an example from the golf course. One of his friends had knocked his ball into the woods, and went looking for it. My dad nudged me, laughed, and said “Watch him.” I did, but he didn’t see me. And sure enough, after turning his head this way and then that looking for his ball, the man put his hand in his pocket, rolled a golf ball out onto the edge of the fairway, and exclaimed, “Found it!” It would have made a lot of fellow golfers mad, but not my dad. He shrugged it off as if nothing had happened and kept playing.

I think of dad almost daily. I miss him. I miss our golf outings. I miss picking on him while he’s watching TV. I miss racing him to the mailbox (Believe it or not, we raced to see who would get the electric bill or water bill. He didn’t like it when I beat him to the punch and paid a bill.) I miss seeing him around my brothers and sisters and all of their children.

My dad was proud of all of us. It didn’t matter what stupid mistake we had made, or what useless idea we had, we knew that dad had our back. He let us know in no uncertain terms that what we had done was wrong, but we knew that the punishment came from love.

Yes, my dad was special.

And someday, I’ll be by his side again, hitting a little ball around a golf course. And laughing and having fun. Always laughing and having fun.

– Mike Barnhardt