In my quest to take each of my grandchildren golfing this summer, today marked the halfway point. Lauren, one of my "soon-to-be-13" year old granddaughters joined me on one of the most perfect Minnesota summer days I've seen.
Noon on the short course at Bunker has proven to be the magical time. Ladies' league is done by noon; kids are still doing household chores; men are eating lunch in the grill ... the course is ours!
Lauren plays softball and is a natural at that sport. Today, I learned she is also a natural at golf. Knees bent just so, beautiful high-arcing swing and follow-through, head held still .. and all without any coaching from Grandma (well, except for that little thing about keeping her feet still). What a delight to golf with her .. that is, until she outdrove me on hole #2. I watched in amazement as her ball went 125 yards with no effort at all. She even said, "Gee, Grandma, I didn't feel like I hit it that far." I told her that was a mark of a good swing; it was effortless and effective. The small smile of satisfaction on her face was one I recognized, but rarely feel!
As I did with the other 3 I've already taken, I offered her a 5 hybrid golf club to use on one of our early holes. It quickly became her favorite. I explained how my friend, Sue, calls it her "magic club," and Lauren agreed with that sentiment. It feels effortless to swing and sends the ball a decent 125 yards. At least, one doesn't feel embarrassed after hitting it. Who needs 14 clubs in the bag? I think a hybrid "magic club" and a putter gets us where we need to be. (I have to note it was right after I offered it to her that she outdrove me!)
As with the others, Lauren drove the cart from hole #3 on, and found that to be almost as much fun as golfing itself. Each one of the kids has found something special about cart-driving that they enjoyed the most. In Lauren's case, it turned out to be going in reverse. She found reasons to back up on just about every hole. And backing up FAST seemed to really tickle her.
Following our 9 holes, which went pretty quickly since she could hit the ball so well, we got a bite to eat at the outdoor deck on the clubhouse. The deck overlooks the 18th green, so the chicken wings and onion rings disappeared rapidly as we dissected the putting skills of the people on that green, hashed over the latest video Lauren and her siblings are making for You Tube, talked about sibling relationships, childhood homes, favorite fast-food restaurants, and the myriad other things that grandmas and granddaughters find to discuss. It was an easy and fun-filled conversation and I found nothing out of the ordinary about it.
As we stood to leave, a gentleman sitting alone at the table behind us offered his hand and said, "Pardon me, Ma'am." (Did his mother not teach him to NEVER address a woman as "ma'am," regardless of how old she might look?) He apologized for having eavesdropped on the conversation Lauren and I had been having but was open about the eavesdropping, and even seemed happy he had had the opportunity to do so. He complimented us on the wonderful interaction he had witnessed. He asked if I was an aunt or what our relationship might be. When I proudly claimed Grandma-hood instead, he said he had been taking notes and was already thinking about what kind of a grandpa he wanted to be, hoping he would have an equally easy interaction with his future grandchildren.
He then commented that he was totaling up in his head all of the 4-wheelers, boats, ATVs and other "toys" he would have to buy in order to be a good grandpa. I laughingly shook my head and said, "You don't have to do any of that. Just spend time with them. That's the most important thing a grandparent can do."
As Lauren and I left, I asked her what we might have been talking about that would have left such an impression (you know that darn Alzheimer's ... say it - forget it!). She reconstructed a few things we had talked about, none of which seemed extraordinary to us. As we drove home, we continued our easy exchange, including commentary about the need to paint the local ice arena which is looking dingy, speculation about why no fun new businesses are being built on the empty land parcels near Lauren's house, and mutual enjoyment that 4 rented video games were theirs to keep when the Movie Gallery went out of business before the return due date had been reached ... ordinary, day-to-day topics. But ones that build on the foundation of love and mutual respect that we have for each other.
I drove home feeling very blessed. A day of golf with a beautiful, much loved granddaughter had ended up being a visible statement to the world of that love. Our bond was forged the day she was born and becomes stronger every day. I'm glad the world, through the eyes of one man, witnessed the darling granddaughter I have and how totally awesome she is. I hope some day Lauren will have an equally wonderful relationship with her own granddaughter, whether it's through golf or some other venue. Just remember, Lauren, you don't need to spend money .... just time.