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Saturday, February 24 Opinion

The Home Team / A good walk spoiled -- again?

As I teenager, I never thought of golf as my game. Too slow. Too boring. Too time-consuming. Too aggravating. Actually, I kind of hated it. But my dad was addicted, and on one Father's Day, at his urging, I went along with him. He gave me a few pointers. I hit a pretty decent number of good shots. And I thought, "hey, this game isn't all that bad."

On my next few outings, I got progressively better. And then I plateaued. And then I started to get worse. And then I realized I'd been right at the start: Not my game. Too slow. Too boring. Too time-consuming. Too aggravating. I hated it.

So it was that at age 17, I retired from golf.

And I stayed retired through college. And through my young professional days in New York City. On corporate outings, when the choice was golf or tennis, I stuck with the tennis crowd. Way more active. Way more athletic. Way cooler. Way less fuddy-duddy.

I even managed to stay retired after moving to suburban Fairfield County, one of the golf capitals of the country.

The only times I was ever tempted to come out of my golf retirement was on family resort vacations. While my three sons played on gorgeous, world-famous courses -- the Mid-Ocean Club in Bermuda, Wailea Gold in Maui, Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic -- I was left behind on the beach with the womenfolk.

I loved spending time with my sons and I craved that camaraderie. So in 2010, I started taking lessons at Longshore. Not many, but enough to go out there and not totally humiliate myself. I practiced at the driving range. I worked up to playing a few rounds with my friends. And a few more with my sons. I got better each time. This wasn't bad at all.

I bought my own set of clubs. I bought a nice golf bag. New balls, tees, shoes -- the works. And then I plateaued. And then I got worse. And then I realized -- again -- that golf was not my game. Too slow. Too boring. Too time-consuming. Too aggravating. I was reminded why I'd always hated it.

I played my last round in May of 2012. Hung up the cleats. Stashed my clubs in a dark corner of the garage. Returned, with no regrets, to my old routine -- spending my discretionary time on running, biking, skiing, kayaking.

Then, last Sunday, my middle son Greg was in from New York. My youngest son, Robby, was home from college. The weather was spectacular. The boys had an afternoon tee time for a foursome -- and were missing their fourth.

Yup, you guessed it. I dug out the cleats. Dusted off the clubs.

And ... drive after drive, straight and long. Even the fairway woods were going where they were supposed to. "Dad, who are you?" Greg said. "That's the best I ever saw Dad play," Robby later told my wife. Notice, he didn't quite say I played well, but still, high praise from two wiseguys who never tire of mocking my inability to get up on a surfboard and my failure to achieve liftoff on my jump shot.

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I felt myself starting to get sucked in. I entertained the thought of asking for some new balls and golf shirts for Father's Day.

And then I flashed back over my golf history. And how it went each time I started playing regularly. And how I seemed to play a helluva lot better after a two-year hiatus.

So I'm going to take this kind of slow. I think I'll try calling the pro shop at Longshore and see if I can get a tee time for June of 2016.

Hank Herman is a Westport writer, and "The Home Team" appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with Hank's adventures on his blog, "Beagle Man," on the Westport News website, http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/. To reach Hank, email him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.