I don’t know how to swing a golf club. The last contact I had with a golf club, I was killing zombies with it.
However, my father loves the game. He fell in love with golf more than a decade ago, and he hasn’t stopped since. Of course, if you put in time in an emergency room like he does, I imagine golf would be the perfect way to take your mind off the days and nights where you see everything from migraines to splattered blood. It’s not pretty, and it didn’t make for the standard shoot-the-breeze conversations other people might have with their dads.
It also meant he had to miss a big chunk of me and my brother growing up … didn’t get to see tennis matches, didn’t get to shoot too many baskets with us (though he was a BALLER in his day), didn’t get to toss a football around.
And there certainly wasn’t time for us to golf … in my case, I was either too “cool” or too busy playing other sports to learn a game that involved a lot of walking and waiting. It just wasn’t me. I just figured my games and his golf would never intersect.
That changed this holiday. I got a Wii loaner unit to play with, and my loan time coincided with the time my family was visiting for Christmas. I figured we’d make some Miis and be done with it.
But before I knew it, me and my brother were golfing with Dad. It was surreal. We didn’t just golf, either. We bowled (and Dad pwned us, by the way) as well as played tennis. You hear stories of Wii “conversions” all the time with casual gamers or non-gamers … but it’s quite different when you’re witnessing it happen to your own father. For my entire gaming life, from Vectrex to 360, games were greeted by a mere shake of the head and smile. Sometimes, we’d get a dismissive hand wave. i figured he’d do the same thing to Wii Sports. Now, he’s probably put in more time in the game than me and my brother combined.
It was during golf where I learned a little bit more about my father the competitor. He likes to talk. He’ll give you props on a good shot, but he’ll grill you if you choke. He has that “Dad mojo” where things just feel a little harder to do because HE’S watching — and I think he knows it. Plus, he’d mutter stuff like, “Oh … don’t blow it here. This is for birdie,” or “Hey, that’s a GOOD shot. See, he’s catching up to you!” Turns out my Dad is a master of applying pressure.
And he hates stinking at something. Me and my brother ended up being the superior Wii golfers … only to return from a movie (“Rocky Balboa”) to find him still working on his Wii golf game and sweating it out on Wii Tennis I could only think of Jim Ross of the WWE at that moment: “Good god, he’s not supposed to be here!” I guess it shouldn’t surprise me, considering that one of my Dad’s all-time favorite players was Larry Bird.
I’m not going to cheese out and say that the Wii helped me and my Dad become all warm and fuzzy. What it did was show me (and others) the absolute brightest aspect of video gaming’s power — the ability to break barriers and open doors. For a handful of blessed hours during the holidays, my golfing dad was a gamer, and his gamer sons were pseudo-golfers. It wasn’t two worlds colliding … they were more like embracing.
By the time my family left, there was talk about my Dad wanting a Wii of his own, or at least welcoming it into their house.
As for me, I want to learn how to swing a golf club. The zombies can relax … I’ve found a better use for it.
See you after New Year’s.