Good morning. There’s a non-zero chance I’ll be sleeping when this gets published. That’s the one downside to moving my publishing date to Saturdays at 8:08 am PT—I tend to sleep in on Saturdays.
Regardless of whether or not I’m sleeping, the show must go on and the deadline must be hit. Even if it is a self-imposed deadline.
If you’re not getting my stories in your inbox already, what are you waiting for?
Okay, let’s get on with it.
It took a year, an eight-hour drive, and two shots in the arm to make it happen. But I made it.
Everything looked, felt, and sounded familiar—the birds chirping, waves crashing in the distance, walking on the undulating turf, the gorse bush blooming yellow, metal clanking to the rhythm of our gait, and the purity of a well-struck shot.
Earlier this week, I was at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on the coast of Oregon. It was the first vacation I’ve taken since my daughter Em was born nearly three years ago.
I’d been trying to dampen my anticipation and expectations for the trip. I packed all the right things but I wasn’t exactly prepared either. I hadn’t hit a golf ball in over a year until I practiced briefly a few days beforehand. But I didn’t care because the trip wasn’t only about golf for me.
I was conflicted about leaving home for so long. Em was having a difficult time getting to sleep and staying asleep at night in the days leading up to the trip. We had recently switched up her meds thinking it would help, but they had the opposite effect. And here I was planning on leaving for the better part of five days for a fun trip and leaving everything to fall on Allison’s shoulders. If money were no object, I would’ve brought my whole family along.
The trip was supposed to happen last year at this time. But then COVID upended everything everywhere. Like most others, my family and I have been locked down at home since March 2020. Em has a history of respiratory issues, so we’ve taken quarantine extra seriously. Her cerebral palsy diagnosis qualified my wife Allison and me for Phase I of the vaccine in California. We’ve been fully vaccinated for nearly two months now.
So off I went from my bubble at home to the bubble at Bandon.
I’ve had a love affair with the game of golf ever since I hit my first pure shot back in high school. Golf subsequently ruined my baseball swing and my typically above-average batting suffered. It got me in trouble with my parents when I mowed a square section of our front lawn down to fairway height without asking. It has boosted my confidence only to tear it right back down. It’s a fickle sport that can never be played perfectly. But I love it.
At Bandon, I only knew two other people from our twelve-person group. Ages in the group ranged by up to three decades. But none of that mattered. Golf brings people together with a common bond—the game has frustrated and elated us all. And that’s why we keep coming back to it.
Off the course, we might have little in common. We might disagree on politics or religion or any number of hot-button issues. But on the course, it’s different. We give each other a hard time, we root for each other (even if we’re playing a match against one another), we tell stories, and we create new stories. After all, we only spend a little over a minute hitting each shot, on average, so the vast majority of time on the golf course is spent between shots.
As I played the amazing golf courses at Bandon, I remembered more and more about the first time I was there only a couple of months before Em was born in 2018. I knew that first trip was special, but I had no idea how significant it was going to be given what I was about to go through with Em and later on with COVID.
If you looked past the masks and the limited available indoor tables at the restaurants, the trip almost felt normal. Golf has thrived during COVID since it has built-in social distancing. More and more people have flocked to the game and courses around the world have seen record turnout. Bandon usually does seven to eight thousand rounds of golf in April, but this year they’re going to do twenty thousand. And they’re projecting two hundred thousand rounds in 2021.
I left my Apple Watch in my room the entire time I was there. And I mostly used my phone to take pictures and to check in with Allison. I only used my car once when we played another course outside of the resort. Otherwise, I was in a bubble, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life back home and away from the pings and dings of remote work.
It was a much-needed respite that simultaneously felt too short and too long.
On the last day, I played my best round of the trip. It was a fitting ending. Then I drove the eight hours back to Sonoma. Back to my family. Back to reality.
But filled with new stories to tell the next time I’m on the golf course.
And an incredible snack Allison is going to try to reverse engineer.
Now I must cut this shorter than usual.
Yes, because I don’t want to bore the non-golfers with stories from my rounds.
But mostly, because I wrote this at the last minute and now I have to give Em her nighttime meds.
Thanks for reading. If you want to talk golf, leave a comment or send me an email and let’s chat. I can go on for hours about it. Or, better yet, if you’re near the Sonoma California area, let’s play a round sometime.
If you enjoyed this piece, could you please give the heart below a tap?
I'm so glad you were able to go to your golf respite. You didn't mention your score tho! I hope that now it's Alison's turn.
So funny, I’m wearing my Bandon Dunes sweatshirt and relating so much. Last two posts- Jake has gone to BDs 4 times. The first I expected to be settled with a newborn & 2 year old, but newborn was late, I had staph infection and 2 year old decided to potty train. 2nd trip we were packing with a 30 day escrow to move out of state- 1&3 year old. 3rd trip we were living with my parents and house hunting, 4th we all got norovirus and I was sick home with 2 sick kids. Still he needed those trips so bad. You did too. The thing I’ve realized is that when he comes home from golf- he’s a better guy. He’s happy so our house is happy. In your situation, like you said, you HAVE to put on your oxygen mask first. Golf for you could possibly make everyone happier for the whole week. Keep doing these things, encourage Alison to do the same. And share how the new course is, as Jake is supper curious.