2018-08-03 / Commentary

Minigolf is all I have left

40–Something

We used to be that family... the one at the minigolf course with the cute little kids dragging around clubs taller than themselves. Our kids would hit the golf ball 40 times before it eventually (and miraculously) found its way into the hole eliciting a roar of approval from mom, dad, and any sibling not distracted by the butterfly resting on the giant fake giraffe or the blue concrete “river” flowing through the course. We used to be the family that made young couples long for children and older folks smile with fond memories.

We’re not that family anymore.

With a 20-year-old and two teenagers aching to overtake their parents and each other, a competitive mom, and a dad (me) clinging with all his might to any sport, game, or general contest he can still win, our once adorable annual family outing to the beach minigolf course has turned into an all-out war.

It’s probably my fault... okay, it’s definitely my fault. I’ve never let my children or my wife beat me at anything. Sometimes the rules were stacked against me, like the basketball games where I had to defend with my hands behind my back, and I could only shoot from behind the three-point line, but I still played to win. I applied this strategy to everything from basketball to Blokus, from tennis to Clue.

I wouldn’t say I cheated in these contests, but I did not let them in on certain strategies, and I used my knowledge to my advantage. Case in point: in the road game called Alphabet where you try to be the first one to find all the letters from A-Z on signs, I amazed and befuddled my family locating the toughest letters—the Js and Qs—with ease. My children didn’t need to know I’d travelled these roads all my life and knew exactly where the signs were. They could learn that the hard way.

The problem is they did! Also, signs change, and so did my eyes. These days I need binoculars to see stop signs, much less Auntie Jane’s Antiques on some side road in Aynor. My kids also got taller, faster, and most importantly, much wiser to my ability to stretch the rules to my advantage.

To make a long story short, minigolf is all I have left. Never did I think one little course a block off the beach would hold so much importance. It’s the only contest I’ve got left where I’m undefeated. Frankly, it’s about the only thing left I can win, but it’s getting much harder. Because the minigolf title is hanging out there like the Green Jacket, the Yellow Jersey, and/or the Stanley Cup of our little family competition, things are getting ugly.

There’s much more trash talking than cheering on those goofy little Astro- Turf obstacle courses, and when there is cheering, it’s only because someone just missed a two-foot gimme. The crazy slopes, misplaced bumps, tunnels, and unfortunate bounces off the brick boundary that used to elicit giggles now cause rants that would embarrass Yosemite Sam.

Young couples look at us in horror now, and senior citizens just shake their heads. I don’t care. I took the title once again this year beating my wife on the last hole by a stroke. The kids were close for a while, but eventually they succumbed to the pressure...and maybe a few of my taunts.

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