Gordon on Golf

Gordon on Golf: What mom really wants for Mother’s Day

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(Donald Miralle/ Getty Images)

Agonizing yet again over getting your mom or wife the perfect Mother’s Day present?

Fret no more. Consider me your personal shopper with the perfect suggestion!

Give her what she really wants: Her family, all wrapped up in the game of golf.

And I don’t mean entertaining her for a couple of hours this Sunday at the predictable Mother’s Day brunch at your club—golf’s equivalent of that cheesy mass-produced card you picked up at the last minute at Shopper’s Drug Mart. (Shame on you.)

What does every mother want? More time with her family, of course, and there are few better opportunities to share family time than through golf.

Indisputably, our world has changed. Rare is the family who gathers each evening around the dining room table to share a meal as well as their respective experiences that day. Rarer still are those families who spend an evening hovering around a board game, playing cards or interacting in other ways. More likely, after a hasty dinner, the family members splinter off in different directions, most likely to individual isolation with their electronic entertainment device of choice.

What if one evening or afternoon each week was a family golf outing? The onus is on golf clubs to promote this opportunity, not only to strengthen the family unit but also, with a nod to today’s financial realities, as a potential membership boost. As one example, ClubLink now offers a complimentary family twilight membership to the spouse and children under 16 of members of its Prestige- and Platinum-level clubs. Family nights with free instruction, complimentary loaner clubs, nine (or fewer, if desired) holes of golf, special menus and other activities are scheduled weekly.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I recently left my post as ClubLink’s director of communications. Nevertheless, I continue to endorse this initiative for other clubs as well. There are other such initiatives out there, but not enough. Truth is, there will never be enough.  Having said that, if your club has a great and proven method of attracting families, I would appreciate hearing about it for inclusion in a future column. Email me at gordongolf@outlook.com.)

Let’s bid good riddance to the days when the husband and father opens his annual dues letter from his male-dominated golf club and announces to his wife: “Hey, honey, guess how much more it’s going to cost us this year for me to spend more time away from you and the kids? Where’s our cheque book?”

On the bookshelf in my office is a framed cover of the Sept. 3, 1960, edition of The Saturday Evening Post. The Norman Rockwell illustration depicts a tubby, cigar-smoking husband in a pork-pie hat and golf attire entering the kitchen door, golf clubs in hand. His facial expression is dumbstruck as he stares at his apron-clad wife. For there, leaning against the wall, is a new set of golf clubs and golf shoes—for her! She is putting a ball across the linoleum floor into a water glass.

Apparently, the message conveyed by that magazine 54 years ago was that America’s newly emancipated women were about to invade golf courses, previously the exclusive domain of men.  And yet I see illustrations from the late 1800s and early 1900s showing men and women playing together in the same foursome. In fact, the very first golf event at venerable Shinnecock Hills on New York’s Long Island was organized by its women members in 1891. Women have a long and revered and well-deserved place on the golf course and we shouldn’t need a magazine cover or some golf columnist to remind us.

So smarten up. Give your mom or wife and, by natural extension, your family and you a great and lasting gift this Mother’s Day. Make the commitment to golf as a family. It will be, as the saying goes, the gift that keeps on giving.

As the proud patriarch of a golfing family, I am well positioned to tell you that. Here’s one story that is apropos, I believe.

Thirteen years ago, almost exactly to the day of this Mother’s Day, my 70-year-old mother-in-law, Shirley Ironstone, aced the seventh hole at Midland Golf and Country Club. It was her first and only hole in one. What a celebration we had! As we all gathered at the family cottage, three golfing generations toasted her achievement. Surrounded by family, Shirley was in her glory. A certificate announcing her feat adorned her house until she passed on. It now hangs in our home. She may be no longer with us, but that memory and many others shared on the course and in the clubhouse are still vivid among those of us who loved her.

Flowers fade, cards are recycled, appetites return unabated after even the most lavish brunch.  This year, give that most beloved woman in your life the gift of family, the gift of golf, and lifelong memories.

JG picAbout John Gordon

It’s been said that John Gordon has “done it all” in Canadian golf since he first got involved in 1985 as managing editor of SCOREGolf.

Based on his resume, it’s a statement that’s hard to dispute. He left SCOREGolf to become Golf Canada’s director of communications and member services and was the founding editor of Golf Canada magazine.

In 1994, he turned to golf writing fulltime, authoring eight books, penning a regular column for the Toronto Sun and then the National Post, and writing innumerable articles for golf consumer and trade publications. He was the on-air and online golf analyst for Rogers Sportsnet for eight years before joining ClubLink, one of the world’s largest multi-course owners and operators, to build their communications department, re-launch their magazine and build out their websites.

In 2014, John returned to golf writing fulltime and will contribute regularly to golfcanada.ca. You can follow him on Twitter at @gordongolf.