The hole-in-one: A Father’s Day story

Published 5:29 am Sunday, June 17, 2018

My dad passed away on Thursday, March 18, 2010. Tough day, horrible for the fact that he was gone. Good for the fact that he was no longer suffering. Cancer sucks. His death was hard on everyone, I handled it just as he would have, sad and upset, devastated actually but not showing it. I didn’t even cry. He rarely showed emotion, and I guess he passed that to me. Good or bad because of him, I have always been a rock- just like he was.

I went about handling the affairs immediately. Being the oldest and the executor of the estate sucks, but the responsibility is a necessary evil. Cremation-check, memorial service-check, estate stuff-check — all went smoothly and efficiently.

Then the worst: Going through his stuff. As we dug through his stuff, we found “The Plaque,” a small wooden plaque that honored one of his proudest moments, his hole-in-one. Dad loved to golf, as it made him happy and provoked all at the same time, but he did it every chance he got. After 50 plus years of golfing, he’d only had one Hole-in-One at Echo Hills in Piqua, and he was very proud of it. We had the plaque made after without his knowing it, and he absolutely loved it! He hung it in his office, a constant reason to talk about his finest moment to anyone who inquired about it. This was one item I wanted.

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Dad and I golfed quite a bit together, especially in the last years of his life. It was good times. We weren’t any good, him better than me, but it was fun. I took the plaque and asked for his clubs. My brother didn’t golf, so again everything went smoothly, and we were done.

His clubs were nice clubs, I figured as soon as the weather was nice enough, I was going to use them, see if maybe they improved my game. Not sure of the date or even the month, but I called my daughter Cali, took a day off, and scheduled a day of golf — just Cali and me and dad’s clubs.

Cali is a good golfer: She was league champ in high school and even golfed a little in college. Her golfing ability was something dad always took pride in, so I thought our golfing for the first time with his clubs was very appropriate and a great way to honor him. We went to Versailles to play, one of dad’s favorite courses. The clubs were nice, and I played better than I had ever played. It was going great, and we were having fun. Dad would have loved it.

It was a good day, playing golf with my daughter, honoring dad. I was playing great, my daughter was playing great, and everything was good. The round was coming to an end. The last hole was a par 3. I stepped up to the tee, and Cali stood behind me to watch my shot.

I hit it. Immediately, she said, “Dad that looks really, really good.” We both watched. It was like slow motion, as the ball hit about 15 feet in front of the hole, bounced once, then twice, then somehow rolled right into the hole. “ A hole-in-one,” she screamed.

I shouted , “WOW, I just hit a freaking hole-in-one!”

Then it happened: I lost it, I shook, I started to cry. I don’t cry! It all just flooded over me: Dad’s death, his life, our relationship, how much he had meant to me and my family, his Hole-In-One, his moment, now my moment and with his clubs. I couldn’t help myself from thinking, Did he do this somehow?

I’m not at all religious, and neither was he, but at that moment I felt like he was right there with us — willing that ball into the hole. It was crazy, it was surreal, it was freaking awesome.

I finally mourned him right there on that tee box, hugging my daughter. It felt horrible and awesome all at the same time. That day, that moment, that hole-in-one, something that was so insignificant to anyone but me became one of the most significant moments of my life.

Kelly Deeter is an engineering student at Edison State Community College in Covington, Ohio.