Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mediate Motivation

This post's title sounds like the name of some managerial professional development seminar, but it actually references the recent USGA's U.S. Open. Congratulations to Rocco Mediate for being the old guy who gave it his all and lived a dream. All of us Baby Boomers were living a little vicariously through you, Rocco, these past few days. What forty-something doesn't dream of taking on the favored young whipper-snapper ... at golf ... at work ... at life!?

You didn't win the Open. So what? There's no shame in tieing two rounds with the world's best golfer and taking second place in a sudden-death playoff. Rocco, you rock! You inspire me - a forty-something hack who would like nothing more than to chase a little white ball around better than a 32-year old.

Growing up in the "Leave-it-to-Beaver" era, my family spent every meal gathered around a shiny chrome kitchen table. But on the occasional Saturday evening when a big golf game had Daddy glued to the black-and-white Zenith in the living room of our 1950's ranch-style home, Mom would break out the folding TV trays and we would all have Saturday night supper (usually franks and beans with homemade coleslaw and brown bread - still in the shape of the can from which it came) in front of the television. An otherwise reserved Scotsman, Daddy would growl and groan at the TV. He would audibly will a close putt into the cup with a falsetto whine that sounded like an ambulance leaving an accident scene. It was a bittersweet treat because, for me, there wasn't enough Heinz-57 in the world to make baked beans palatable and, although we got to have supper in front of that mesmerizing blue glow of my wonderful window on the world, it was to watch stupid, boring golf. Daddy was a big golfer - always off to the Highland Country Club on Saturday mornings. He would come home from tournaments with two-handled loving cups, wood-grained wall plaques and the occasional kitchen appliance ... usually a plug-in percolator or an electric skillet. He loved golf, but was a little selfish about the game. Mom joked with her friends about being a golf widow and Daddy never shared his passion for the game with anyone but his golf buddies.

So it was a flashback for me on Father's Day when, after being outside in the garden and puttering around the house doing chores all day, I flopped down on the sofa and clicked on the TV. The U.S. Open was on and I got sucked into the drama of Tiger Woods wincing with pain, the shot-for-shot play of Englishman Lee Westwood, and the chatty, devil-may-care attitude of a 45-year-old golfer named Rocco. I made myself some supper and sat in front of the TV to eat it. It wasn't until I started making audible whining sounds at the TV, that it hit me ... I had become my father.

I took up the game after he passed on at 91 years old. It just seemed like the right thing to do since I inherited my father's golf clubs. I don't expect to start winning any plug-in percolators but I love it when I walk onto the green with dad's 1966 J. Reuter Acushnet Bullseye putter. The vintage club often brings a smile to the faces of fellow golfers and I always tell them that if it was good enough for Daddy, it's good enough for me. Cheers!