Every year for 15 years or so, a bunch of my high school friends go on a golf trip the first weekend in June. It started with a few guys golfing on a Saturday and staying in a hotel/motel on Saturday night.
I joined about 10 years ago, at that time there was 12 guys who went. Over the years, we have expanded to 20 guys and we now make it a full weekend by golfing on Friday and Saturday.
Of the 20 guys, 16 of us graduated from High School together. A few others graduated a year or two ahead or behind and there is only one guy from another town. We don’t hold that against him because he’s a great guy, but deep down I’m sure it bothers him that he’s not from the greatest town this side of the Mississippi.
When I first started to go on the trip it was about drinking as much as possible for a weekend. Golf happened, but it was never the main event. It was most of us just acting like idiots for a couple days before going back to the real world.
Saturday is the “real” tournament. We draw names out of a hat each year so you know who you are partners with the next year. You wear a matching golf shirt with your partner and the winner of day wins a few bucks, which usually ends up going to the bar tab or buying lunch or something. It all sounds a bit corny, but as the names are picked and you find out your teammate there is always some excitement about who you will play with. Never disappointed, because if you are paired with a bad golfer you know you will be the best drinkers on the course that day.
As the years have gone on more of the guys got married and have a few kids, so the weekend has changed. More guys stay at the house or motel than go to a bar at night. It is more about playing cards that it is bar hopping. In fact, this year one of the guys brought a Sega Genesis just to give us something else to gamble on. There is more relaxing on the couch than helping a buddy hunt for a girl at a bar now.
The weekend recently has also fallen on my wife’s birthday. The first time this happened I think she was upset. Never really showed it to me, but I knew. But, she has seen how important this weekend is for me. She sees how excited I get before it and how exhausted I am when I get home on that Sunday. It helps me that every year on Father’s Day I spend the day at the kids dance recitals so she knows I give up “my” day to watch hundreds of kids dance on stage.
This year was the first golf trip since I started blogging. My friends are not always the “I love you and everything you do” guys. They are the bust your balls every chance they get guys, so I knew there would be a few jokes at my expense. What I got was exactly what I needed or exactly why I choose to be friends with these guys. I got the jokes, which I think you need to keep you from thinking your shit doesn’t stink, but I also got a few “keep writing, I love your stuff” words from a few guys. My friends know how to knock you down and pick you back up.
As the years go on and we see less and less of each other during the year. Some of these guys I now only see at this golf trip, but we pick up right where we left off. A few beers and we are making the same jokes to each other we have for years.
One time I heard someone say that you meet your real friends in College and High School doesn’t really matter. I never understood that, for me, I have been friends with some of these guys since we were 6 years old. They know who you are now, but more importantly, they know who were then. These are the guys who you could call in the middle of the night and tell them you need them and they don’t ask any questions. We haven’t had to bury any bodies yet, and I don’t think we ever will, but I know I’m always ready for that call, just as I am sure they are.
I don’t know if it feels like we aged overnight, but the trip now is more about making sure your bed is as far away from the snorers than it is about drinking until you pass out on the floor. The guys are more concerned with who brought sunscreen than who brought the weed. This year we had a house and I was never more proud of myself for remembering to bring a towel in case the house did not provide them. Weird how our priorities change! But, the trip gets better and better each year. The weekend flies by. I remember thinking this year on the 18th hole Saturday after playing the worst golf I have ever played that the trip was basically over and feeling a little sad about it.
I have another year to get thru now before the next trip. Lots of things will happen over the next 52 weeks, but I know that come May 2019 I will start to get excited about the golf trip coming up. I will buy 50 golf balls, make sure I have the day before I leave and the day after I get home off from work. I need a full day to pack, and a full day to detox when I get home…
I’m a really lucky guy to have the friends I do. Find those people who knew you when you were a dumb kid just trying to figure out this place. Always look to make new friends, make new memories, but make time for the ones who can tell your story from start to finish. Find your tribe, put on a dumb golf shirt and create more stories, or tell the same ones that have made you laugh for years. Having people in your life, even if it is once a year that refill your soul is important. Remind yourself of who you were and it will make you appreciate who you are.