I credit my sense of humor to my old man. On those mornings that I didn’t ride the school bus, he’d take me to work with him and I’d listen to him retell his stories from the previous weekend while his coworkers and customers rolled with laughter while blowing on their coffee and ashing their Marlboros. I might have smelled like an ashtray going to school, but I’ve never laughed harder at jokes and one-liners that I didn’t fully understand.
When I meet people who know my dad for the first time, I always get the same two responses. “I’m sorry for you” or “he’s so full of shit,” both of which are accompanied by a big smile. They are wrong for feeling sorry, but they are most certainly right about him being full of shit. I know because I’m full of shit and it had to come from somewhere. It certainly wasn’t given to me by my sweet mother.
My dad not only taught me how to laugh, joke, rib, kid, needle, raz, banter, and jest, he also taught me how to play golf. Laughter and golf just kind of go together. I love telling jokes while standing on the tee box waiting for the foursome in front of us to clear the fairway, the same way my dad still does during our men’s league matches together. Playing partners become the perfect captive audience to work on the next zinger or bit you heard over coffee and cigarettes earlier that morning.
I tell groups that I speak to that sports are the one thing in life that makes us forget about the things that typically divide us. Golf most certainly does that. I’ve played with Republicans (it’s Kansas afterall), Democrats (they exist in Kansas too!), Libertarians (surprisingly strict about golf rules for people who don’t like regulations), Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Protestants, Agnostics, Atheists, and every other label we put on ourselves to identify us as part of one group or another. And none of that mattered on the golf course. What has always mattered was having a good time and playing good golf. I don’t always play good golf. Because of that, I don’t always have a great time either. I guess that’s another way I need to be more like my dad. No doubt that’s cringe worthy to some of you reading this who know the two of us…
I remember all the shots from a round for several hours after the last putt drops. I remember the best jokes and laughs for years. I retell my favorites every round I play with someone new. I break out the old “do you know how much this pin flag weighs?” bit literally all the time. It’s become a calling card of sorts. There are a few others I’ve picked up over the years, some from my dad, some from friends, others from strangers. Each has provided the mental break and a laugh that helps my game and reminds me why I love to play this dumb game so much.
I’m a firm believer that you can’t play this game without having a sense of humor. It’s a humbling game and if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re going to end up throwing your ball, club, or entire bag, into the nearest lake. That kind of frustration isn’t fun to experience. But, if you don’t laugh at the sight of a 9-iron hurling through the air and getting stuck in a tree, you need to see a physician because your funny bone has a hairline fracture. I’m all for mental health positivity, but watching a golfer lose their mind and go ballistic will never not be funny because we’ve all been there. With this game, sometimes all you can do is laugh about it and laugh it off.
Most of us will never be stand-up comedians who tell jokes for a living. My goal is to be a stand-up golfer who lives to tell jokes. When you think about it, there isn’t that much of a difference between making people laugh on stage and making people laugh on an elevated tee box.
My old man is full of shit sometimes. He pretty much is everytime we play golf. I guess I come by it honestly. Just know, the next time we tee it up, I’m going to joke. I’m going goof. I’m going josh. Hope you will too. I’m all ears for your next one-liner, your next zinger, your next good-natured ribbing. Let ‘em fly and then we’ll play some golf.
Until Next Time,