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What My Dad Taught Me About Golf (and Life)

My dad, Cesar Colon-Bonet, my son, Campbell and me celebrating Masters Week in 2004.

My dad taught me to play golf when I was ten.

I didn't love golf as a kid. What I loved was my dad's undivided attention for several hours on the golf course. This week celebrates Masters Week, the Superbowl of all golf tournaments. Every year at this time, I think of my dad with a deep appreciation for the game he taught me so long ago.

My dad passed away in 2020 during what would have been Masters week. It feels fitting and perfect that he went home to golf on the other side of heaven at that time. I imagine him, rum and Coke in hand, golfing with The Master, watching The Masters from above.

Golf’s greatest gift and challenge is that it demands all of you. You can't be thinking about dinner plans or last night’s argument or what you should do later. You have to be fully present in all of it. Even now, years later, I can’t say I’m much better than when I was chipping balls into spare tires in the backyard at age 10. But I've come to respect the game that is not meant to be mastered.

Here are seven favorite lessons I’ve learned from my dad about golf. They happen to be good for life too.

1. The game demands all of you - be fully present to it.

2. Keep working at your game - some days will be terrible and some will be fantastic. Hold onto those fantastic shots.

3. Notice the beauty in your midst as you play.

4. Avoid trouble you can see – traps, woods, water.

5. You never want to be out of bounds.

6. When playing your worst, stay quiet and keep impeccable manners.

7. You are only one swing away from the next great shot.

After so many years of swinging a club, I’m learning that golf is so much more than a game. It’s given me a deep appreciation of doing hard things for the fun of it. It’s shown me that sometimes mastering something isn’t the point. Sometimes it's about doing something for the pure love of it with the people you love.

Golf's greatest lesson of all: just play.

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