It's Sunday morning, 6:00 AM, Father's Day.
Even though the last round of the US Open will tee off at Shinnecock shortly, I'm not going to carry on about the brown greens that were broadcast around the world yesterday. I do feel sorry for Jon Jennings and his staff who have busted their humps for two years only to have it go to shit at the last minute... at the USGA's behest, I'm fairly sure. I guess they didn't learn anything from the wind-whipped forest fire on the greens there in 2004.
For me, Father's Day has become one of those semi/partly-annual opportunities for pondering the past, reflecting on life and family, what I've done well, maybe not so well, and whether it's time to adjust the rudder for the future. The latter should be a constant exercise, by the way.
It occurred to me recently that unless you're a Michelangelo, McCartney or Gretzky, the half-life of anybody's legacy here on earth is about a generation, maybe a generation and a half. Beyond that, you're one of those old farts hanging on the wall. If, that is, somebody had the foresight to print a hard copy of your photo before it got lost in the succession of hard drive crashes that erases so many digital memories today. (Hint: lesson there.)
As a kid, I remember a sepia-toned portrait hanging on the wall in my grandparents' home in Jenkintown, PA. I thought it was cool because the guy had a big bushy mustache and looked like a neat guy. His name was Joseph Adam Gehres, my great-grandfather on my mother's side, from Waverly, Ohio. Findagrave.com tells me his time on earth was 1855-1945. The photo on the left below is the one I remember. (Not sure about the look of my great-grandmother on the right. Ugh. But such was the fashionable look of the day.
It's a safe bet that I'm the only person on earth thinking about Joseph Adam Gehres today. Most people today don't know their grandparents' or great-grandparents' names, much less remember them or think about them. That's changing somewhat for those who delve into Ancestry.com or one of its ilk.
About 20 years ago when visiting my parents in suburban Chicago, I sat with my mother and scanned a bunch of old family photos and had her identify those pictured so I could record them digitally for posterity. Hah. Where are those digitized photos and notes now? On some long-lost hard drive somewhere.
So the point here, after beating around the bush and going around the backside of the barn a few times, is that your legacy is today. Don't worry about what the future may think, what the record books will say about you, what you'll look like on findagrave.com. What is important is how you impact and influence those around you now.
The Superintendent Tradition has long dictated that for six months of each year, family is put aside to focus solely on the job. Thankfully that's changing, due in part to the influence of those like Chris Tritabaugh at Hazeltine. Chris recognizes that the job is important but only one segment of life. The golf course will be there tomorrow but kids will be of a certain age only once. Unlike many superintendents of the past, he refuses to miss that just to clock more hours at the golf course under the guise of dedication to the job.
The Superintendent Tradition has long dictated that for six months of each year, family is put aside to focus solely on the job...
I don't have any regrets in that regard. I wasn't a superintendent, but I worked many long hours building TurfNet... thankfully with the flexibility to work around family activities rather than miss them. I was there. I showed up. No regrets.
That's one reason I don't play golf. I pretended for about ten years, playing six or eight times a year in chapter outings and that type of thing, but I could never justify the six hours or whatever it took door-to-door to play golf on a Saturday or Sunday. Plus I sucked at it. Four hours of frustration and embarrassment for me, so I hung 'em up 18 years ago. No regrets there either.
In just a few hours Patty and I will leave the dogs at home and head north to Mallett's Bay for a day on Daughter B's boat (the best kind of boat to have... someone else's!). It has become a Father's Day tradition.
Investments made then (above, circa 1987) yield dividends later (below).
Long story short: Be a part of your kids' lives during their formative years and chances are they will want you to be part of theirs later on.
So show up. Be there. Do for others. It all comes back to you later.
Oh, and Happy Father's Day to those so blessed.