I decided Sunday morning to go hit some golf balls before the blast furnace that is Orlando’s summer hit full force. It gets Africa hot here in the summer, and if you try to do anything outdoors in the afternoons you’re basically a masochist or have a real twisted idea what fun is.
So I get to the driving range at 8:30 in the morning. By then it was ‘only’ 85 degrees. Still bearable. I get my bucket and head over to the range and start warming up. About halfway through the bucket I look up and here comes a young family - mom and dad, with two young children in tow. The boy was about eight and the little girl couldn’t have been more than three. Each had their own sets of clubs. And I gotta say, being a golfer, nothing is cuter to me than a little kid with their own set of teeny-tiny golf clubs.
But anyway. Just to the right of me were three open spots, and of course, this is where the family decides to set up shop. Mom was at the station closest to me, dad was furthest away, and they put the two kids between them, both hitting out of the same station.
I could see the disaster unfolding.
The boy was flailing away, sending balls in every direction. The little girl was trying to figure out which end of the club to hold. The parents were semi-oblivious to their plight, as they were hitting their own shots. Their attitude seemed to be, every man for themselves. You kids play nice.
Yeah right. I have older siblings. We never played nice.
Not five minutes later, the crying started. It was the little girl. Apparently her older brother hit her with one of his shots, or his club or something, because she was not happy. Out came the ‘Ahhhhhh…..’ followed by that interminable pause that kids have in order to build up to a big explosive cry. Bam - “He hit me…I don’t WANNA pway goff no more!”
Mom shepherded the little girl away from the firing line and I could hear her - “Amelia, honey, you have to be quiet - other people (meaning me) are trying to hit their shots.” Yeah, like she cared - “I don’t WANNA PWAY GOFF NO MOOOOOORE! WAHHHHHHHH”
This had to stop. So I made eye contact with the mom with a ‘Do you mind if I help?’ look. Mom, who was looking for any kind of help, because dad was not going to be bothered, gave me that look that you usually see from people who accidentally fall into a lake; that ‘For the love of God throw me a rope’ look.
So I said ‘Hey Amelia, come over here.’ She shuffled over, head down & sniffling. I then did what her parents should have done in the first place - I teed up a ball for her. Her parents let her fend for herself and she was trying to hit balls off the ground. Lemme tell you, I have trouble hitting balls off the ground, and I’m not three years old with a cantankerous brother behind my back swinging crazily with the realization that at any moment I could be impaled.
So I teed up a ball for her and I told her to swing real hard at it. She did. It went about 50 feet. And she turned to me with this surprised look on her face, as in, did I just do that? I teed up another. Again, she hit it a little further than the first one. Now she was smiling. “I wanna do it ‘gin.” Well, she did id it ‘gin. And ‘gin and ‘gin. Now she was laughing. I looked at the mom. She shot me a ‘ohmygod…thank you’ look.
My pleasure. Because here’s the thing. Yes, I was trying to help out the situation, but there were selfish motives. I was not going to have any peace in order to resume my practice until we resolved The Amelia Situation. Well I was able to, and a few minutes later the family was done with their attempt at Bonding Through The Driving Range experience. As they were walking away, I yelled out, ‘Hey Amelia’…she turned around and I said ‘Bye Bye.’ She gave me a smile and a wave and said ‘Bye Bye.’
So if 20 years from now, an LPGA rookie named Amelia wins a tournament, I hope she thanks me.