AMAC Exclusive By Ryan MacDonnell
Every year, on the third Sunday in June, we celebrate Father’s Day. While the politically correct crowd in society might argue this day is one of the last vestiges of toxic masculinity and others have argued that this important day should be removed from Hallmark’s rotation, I choose to celebrate those men who helped raise and mentor each of us.
For my part, I’ll be renewing my annual tradition of a round of golf with my dad. It is a great way to spend time with my father, though I must admit, a healthy father-son rivalry certainly is drawing us to our local municipal course, if only for bragging rights and a round of drinks at the 19th hole.
Dad has noted in recent months that the old guys have been finding success in the sporting world.
Much has been made of the elder statesmen in sports who have rekindled or even continued their winning ways so far this year. Dad certainly took delight (if only because of his age) in Tom Brady winning yet another Super Bowl at the age of 43. He loved it when Phil Mickelson took the PGA Championship at age 50. He cheered as Helio Castroneves won a 4th Indianapolis 500 at 46, and even most recently when Novak Djokovic defeated a player twelve years his junior to capture the French Open.
In the case of each of these renowned athletes, what is (relatively) old isn’t exactly new. These athletes have been among the most recognizable and successful names in their respective sports for the better part of two decades. Yet, in each of these instances, younger rivals – each of them tipped for greatness in their own right – came up short against the old stalwarts, proving the adage that there is no substitute for experience.
Few could be more tickled by this recent run than my father.
Since I was a kid, we have bonded over sports. He coached my little league and pee wee football teams. As I grew older, he became my biggest cheerleader in a brief and unremarkable career as a student-athlete.
Today, Dad is my favorite golfing partner and someone who was always ready to go catch a ballgame or watch a round from the comforts of the living room.
Trying to be a good son, I’m inclined on the golf course these days to take it easy on the old man. Until recently, he’d beat me handily and would love every minute of it.
These days, his son has the upper hand, though he always knows when I’m lagging to keep the game close. Dad, still as competitive as ever, usually offers up a pithy line to the effect of, “I don’t need any help kicking your butt.” Or, sometimes he will remind me of that Toby Keith song from years ago in which the main character of the song may be aging but is still “as good once as he ever was.”
I am blessed to still have my dad with me. Getting older myself, many of my close friends have lost a parent or even both at this stage in life. My dad, a septuagenarian, is certainly slowing down, but his enthusiasm for life, for being a father and a grandfather has not diminished an ounce.
It is natural for us to talk more frequently about getting older and about how seemingly quick time passes these days. He often laments that his body doesn’t allow him to do what it used to – a round of golf is physically more challenging than he’d like to admit and he really doesn’t stand much of a chance against the young up and comer in his own family these days.
Our two-man tournament won’t be anything like Torrey Pines – the winner will barely break 90, mulligans and gimmes will be offered and accepted aplenty – but I can’t wait to tee off.
I can also be sure that in advance of our annual Father’s Day round this weekend, Dad will remind me again of all the recent success older players have been having in major sporting championships.
As he puts it, “Son, the old guys still have it.”
This weekend, I hope Dad is right.
Happy Father’s Day.