Chris Hutchins

Golf lessons passed down to others

Fourteen years ago I learned about “Flintstones Golf.” My father-in-law, Chuck, was a golf nut of the first order, he was utterly obsessed. He played every chance he could, at least a few times a week.

Chuck introduced me to the sport, and to this day I can’t set foot on a golf course without recalling his many words of wisdom. “Golf is a game of inches … about 6 inches right between your ears.” Or, “Imagine the ball is a bagel turned on its side and you just want to roll it into the hole.” When it was time to chip onto the green he would say, “Imagine you are reaching out to shake hands with the flag.” Chuck was always there with a lesson for me to learn. I can recall about a hundred sayings from him whenever I play.

We were living in Washington, (cue Beverly Hillbillies theme song) state that is, evergreens, Microsoft. Chuck was addicted to golf. When the courses closed due to snow cover, it didn’t faze him, he would use his Day-Glo yellow golf balls (so you could still see the ball against the white snow) and get golfing, winter rules.

Chuck kept his clubs with him all the time, just in case. He thought that if everyone played golf, it would foster a deeper understanding and tolerance between people the world over. He believed the lessons one can learn on the golf course can make us all better people. Patience, timing, control, and other skills like observation and focus are fundamental.

Knowing when to take a risk and when to play it safe is important, and execution is paramount. Chuck would constantly draw parallels between golf and life. “It’s easy to end up in the rough.” He thought the world would be a better place if we all played golf. I tend to agree.

In honor of Chuck, I carried the torch and organized a “Flintstones Golf” weekend with my family this past May. Part of the game is assembling your own club. To keep it “pre-historic” we utilized branches from the orange tree in my backyard that I probably should have watered occasionally. Orange trees don’t grow the straightest branches (or at all if they don’t get water). I found the most awkward, clumsy, and convoluted branch I could and thought, “Perfect!” To make the club face we cheated and used a little duct tape and baseboard. Instead of rocks (which is how I was taught), we used plastic practice balls for some semblance of safety, and made the course short to keep it fun for the non-golfers and kids.

If you don’t know a thing about golf, I’m sorry, just skim over the next three sentences. I made 9 flags, “next tee” markers, closest to the pin, longest drive and longest putt flags out of underground cable marker flags. I added a few bonus flags for fun and threw in a decoy flag with a message on it that gave the option to either start that hole over with a 2 stroke penalty or continue playing from that location. It was actually much easier than it sounds. Only my wife and I had ever heard of the game so the rest of the family thinks I am a really creative, fun loving guy. Shhhhh, don’t tell them any different.

It was fun but the best part about the game wasn’t actually playing the game; it was thinking about my family while preparing for the game, seeing everyone play, and honoring Chuck’s memory. Thanks for another great golf lesson Chuck.