Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
This weekend also makes the first major golf championship I have watched since my dad passed away in February. He taught me to love the game, to honor its traditions and love its history. But most importantly, he taught me two very important things: first, to recognize the many ways that golf, and all sports really, teach us about ourselves and life and the nature of God; secondly, he showed me that golf is just a game, not something to be taken as serious as family and faith.
My father, Thomas Bush, saw his last Masters in 2010. It was fitting that the storyline of the week and especially the final round on that Sunday involved the players that it did. My dad loved the great stories of the game, the ways in which the sport itself seemed to take life by the reins and steer it toward a conclusion and a place where hearts are touched and lives are changed forever simply by watching. Phil Mickelson won the tournament. His wife and his mother had learned earlier that year that they both had breast cancer. Amy Mickelson spent the entire week in bed because of the effects the radiation treatment. As her husband walked up the 18th fairway, the tournament firmly in hand, Amy appeared behind the green. She wanted to see her husband win his third green jacket. After the last birdie putt rolled in, Phil made his way to his wife and they shared a tearful embrace. Jim Nantz, calling the tournament for CBS Sports, said “There’s a win for the family.” I didn’t know then that it was a win for my family.
I wasn’t with my dad when that final putt dropped. But I was on the phone with him off and on throughout the entire final round. Now, I want to call him more than anything. Instead, I’ll hold my two-year old son and smile as he shouts “gaw-ball! Daddy, gaw-ball!” at the screen. My father would have laughed.
Today, I’m going to try and document what is for me one of the most bittersweet sporting events of my life. It is ironic that the theme of this year’s tournament, which no one knows really until Saturday afternoon starts to get longer and the leaderboard begins to shape itself, is one of a “new generation” poised to take over the future of the game. The “older generation” that is about to be pushed out are, I’m terrified to report, my age. Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and the rest are at the point where one wonders if they will ever win another big one. Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and the rest of the twenty-somethings are taking over. But instead of being upset, depressed or even stubborn about that development, my dad would have just laughed and said, “that’s life; you can’t stay young forever.”
These are some of the special moments from the afternoon spent watching golf and thinking of Dad:
- CBS just did a piece on the famous Masters Champion’s Locker Room, showing that the place is “intimate”, meaning small. The players share a locker with former winners. Jack Nicklaus, my dad’s favorite player, shares a locker with Horton Smith, the man who won the first Masters Tournament in 1934. My father’s favorite player linked forever with the man who first won Dad’s favorite tournament. As Jim Nantz would say, that’s special.
- Augusta National is the Mecca of golf, the Valhalla, the Eden. Everyone wants to play there, to win there. But one thing about watching it on TV that makes it so fun, so special, are the roars of the crowd. The great sports writer Rick Reilly said that the loudest sound he’s ever heard outdoors was not on the deck of an aircraft carrier, or in a football stadium designed to gather in and concentrate noise; rather it was at the 17th green as Jack Nicklaus rolled in his famous birdie putt in 1986 on the way to winning his record 6th Masters. Just now, I posted on my Facebook that if you heard a noise while you were outside, it was Augusta exploding. Tiger is back. He shot a 31 on the front nine and is one back of the lead. If Tiger Woods can come from seven shots back and win the Masters for a 5th time, that would be, in my biased opinion, my dad giving me a memory that will last my lifetime. He had Jack, I’ll have Tiger. I’m now officially rooting for Tiger Woods.
- At one point, six people were tied at the top at 10 under par. That late in the round, I can’t remember that happening.
- I remember watching Tiger delivering a beat down to the field in 1997; I remember Mark O’Meara the next year coming out of nowhere. Phil with his two-inch vertical jump after his first win in 2004; Angel Cabrera beating the man everyone outside of Angel Cabrera (and his caddy) wanted to win, Kenny Perry, in a play-off. All of those tournaments were special, for one because they were at the Masters, but the other reason is that I’d call my dad afterwards to talk at length about the whole thing, the emotions of winning, the agony of what might have been for those who finished just that close, all of it.
Now, the Masters is over. Charl Schwartzel has won by two over Adam Scott and Jason Day. Tiger Woods finished four back in a gallant effort. I wanted this year’s tournament to be historic, to be monumental. It was, only not for the reason I wanted. I’ll never forget the 2011 Masters because my dad watched it from heaven, and I had no one to call. But I do have someone to hug. So my son, AJ, will begin a new tradition soon of watching the tournament with his father. I hope it will be special for him. I know it will be special for me.
I love you, Dad.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
- My friend Carolyn Arnold (yes, I name drop; sue me) did a tremendous piece on writers helping other writers, which you can find here. I posted a comment on the article, posted a link here on my blog and agree 100% with what she said. However, and you knew this was coming, I do have to add one little caveat. Sometimes you can be helpful by being honest. I am not giving anyone license to be cruel, but if you have the gift of diplomacy, then use it as a surgeon would a scalpel around a bundle of nerves, that is gently and carefully. Tell someone that they might need to get another beta to look at their work they swear its ready to be self-published and its, in the words of Charles Barkley "turrble." Its better they hear it from a trusted friend than when no one buys their stuff.
- A writer friend of mine had an email conversation with me where he lauded the virtues and necessity of a writer getting a copyright from the United States Copyright Office. Now, this guy never let an agent look at the work, a query or even a pitch. But damn it, he got a copyright, so there! No one's gonna pirate his self-published book. He got a by-God copyright!
- When you least expect it, you get a new team member in the world of writing. A teacher at the school where I work was having a conversation with me about writing, reading, stories and all that jazz when she mentioned the fact that her daughter was writing a book. Two weeks later, and I have a wonderful new writing friend that I'd like to introduce you guys to: J. L. Jackson. She is going to be a good one, keep an eye on her. Follow her blog, email her, you know the drill.
- A disturbing trend in this whole self-publishing craze is the 'throw it up and see what sticks' approach to writing. For instance, if you are penning (or typing as the case may be) a thriller novel and you delve into the Freemasons, the Anti-Christ, the Founding Fathers, the Kennedy assassination, the mafia, mind control devices run by the military, aliens possibly seeding the Earth with life, and the government knowing engineering 9/11, then you are either a) Dan Brown, b) a late-night radio show, or c) not writing a very good novel. There's no possible way for you to have anything worth reading if you think you can tie all that crap into one coherent plot. This goes to the "stop writing what's popular" line that is so prevelent, and rightfully should be. Here's a little bit of info you might already know but need to be reminded of: you are not Dan Brown (unless you are, and if you are, I emailed you a few times before you got big and I wanted to thank you for the advice, it was nice to hear back from ya)! Stop trying to be the poor man's version.
- Writing is a lot of work; good writing is excrutiating. Please, pretty please, those who are pushing the self-publishing method, let's not encourage speed and volume. Because its still about the quality, not the quantity. If too much crap is available from $0.99 to $2.99, then the good stuff at those prices are going to be lost or labeled before they get much of a chance. Take the time and write a good book. Then worry about publishing. That is all.
- Kiss your family. Give them an extra hug. Watch a movie, or better yet, read a book together. Family is very important. Cherish them. And in the words of someone very famous whom my wife and son love, "be nice to each other."