By: Ted Sturges
I love golf. To me, golf is not only the greatest game in the world, it is also a source of a myriad of delightful sensations of sight, smell, camaraderie, friendship and competition. I fell in love with the game early on, with my father serving as my gatekeeper to the game. Caddying for my father, going to the range to shag balls for him as he practiced, and watching golf on TV with him are all fond childhood memories. Golf penetrated my heart and soul from the start.
Golf has introduced me to friends I would likely have never known otherwise. With golf being such an important part of my life for the last 50 years, many of my friendships were formed around the game. I’ve made friends on both coasts of this great nation, a significant number of friends from the heartland, as well as friends from other countries through golf. The gents I play with in my regular Saturday game at my club are among my closest friends today. I happen to believe that friendships are life’s greatest treasure, so the friendships that have come my way through golf are treasures indeed.
Golf has taken me to amazing places and allowed me to visit some of the greatest parcels of real estate that God has bestowed upon us. Visits to the Monterey Peninsula, Long Island, New York, the coasts of Scotland and Ireland, and remembering the splendor of those spectacular sceneries are memories I will carry with me always.
Golf has helped me learn to handle failure. We all fail in life. My father always told me that failure doesn’t define us, what we do after we fail is the true measure of a man. We fail often in life. We fail more often in golf. Learning to giggle at one’s bad shots and learning to easily dismiss one's golf failures is something that generally comes to someone over time. Golf has been a great teacher of this important lesson to me.
Golf has helped me learn how to handle success. My golf successes are few, but I’ve witnessed others have golf success over and over. Watching opponents I have encountered over the years gloat in victory helped shaped my views on how I would react if I were the victor. Watching the countless good examples of gracious champions by following professional golf has also served as an example to follow. As I have grown older, the few times I have been fortunate enough to be the victor, I have tried to be a gracious winner. This lesson has also carried over into other areas of my life with regard to handling success.
Golf has given me one of my most passionate hobbies. When I went to the Ryder Cup at Kiawah in 1991 with my father and uncle, we stopped along the way to play a round at a place called Yeamans Hall Club, which was designed by someone named Seth Raynor. At the time, I had not heard of either one. Standing on the 6th tee at Yeamans that first time I played there, looking down at what I was told was a “redan”…I can honestly say I had never seen anything like it. That day changed my life and sparked a three decade study of golf course architecture. Fifty plus books on that topic now reside on the shelves of my bookcase, and this passion for study has also introduced me to an additional group of friends.
Golf has served me well as the perfect pastime during crucial moments in my life. I have played golf the morning of wedding celebrations (including my own) - this took away stress and brought loved ones together. I have played golf after work during especially challenging times at work - this allowed me to escape to a place where I have always been comfortable. I have played golf following a friend’s funeral - this allowed me to find peace in a situation where my emotions were frayed. I have played golf after enduring personal tragedy - this allowed me to reconnect with friends who supported me, playing a game that took my mind off of the hard times (at least for a little while).
Golf gave me the most enjoyable job I ever had. From the age of 16 until I graduated from college at age 22, I spent every summer working on a golf course. I raked bunkers, I changed the cup locations, I mowed the grass in the roughs, I mowed the tees, I mowed the greens - and I loved every minute of it. Those “work” days did not feel like work to me. I had the privilege of working at a place where nearly everyone was happy to be there. I got to watch people enjoy the game I loved while I worked. To this day, I consider that the best and most fun job I ever had.
Golf has given me a common bond with two of the most important people in my life - my father, and my son. My father introduced the game to me, and though at age 87 he can no longer play, some of my most memorable rounds were played with him. Taking my father to places he could not gain access to himself was a source of joy for me. Trips to Camargo, Fishers Island, Seminole and Merion with my dad are cherished memories for me. Our bond was made stronger due to our shared love of golf. My son is 28 now and we play together often. My son loves golf as I do, and I know golf will take us to amazing places together during the next 25 years.
I owe the game of golf so much.
I truly love golf.