It seems fitting that the last day of play at Colwood National Golf Course would be on the anniversary of my father’s passing, six years ago to the day. Colwood was an easy course, nestled in the heart of Portland’s industrial area, catering mostly to casual players who wanted to get a round of golf in and not spend a fortune. It became the course of choice for Jim Toner and I, whenever I’d visit from Seattle. I always enjoyed my visits to Portland, especially the trip over to Colwood for a round with Dad. It wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t impressive. The holes were fairly short, but not to the point of being a joke. It had its challenging holes as well. Since Dad and I didn’t talk too often on a very deep level, Colwood always represented to me a chance to hang out with Dad. For that reason alone, I loved Colwood.
In the 1980’s I had joined a golf league through my employer in the Seattle area, Boeing. I probably played 6 or 7 years and improved steadily. In High School I played on the golf team at Centennial and played JV my freshman and sophomore years, Varsity Junior and Senior years. I wasn’t great by any stretch, but I could occasionally break 80 at Glendoveer, which I’m sure made Dad extremely proud. He broke 80 a few times there, but it wasn’t that often, so he had a lot of respect for guys who could do that.
In the midst of my golf league years at Boeing, I started to take it a little more seriously and tried hard to get my handicap down. If I recall correctly, I got down to a handicap of 9 at my lowest point. And I was competitive in the league for a few years. I ended up winning the men’s first flight 2 of the years, playing against some pretty decent golfers. To make sure that isn’t over-stated, everyone gets to use their handicap, so I may have been playing for the club championship with my 9 handicap against a guy with a scratch handicap, but he had to give me 9 strokes. Anyway, golf was my thing for while there and it was fun.
On a trip to Portland, in the midst of playing a lot of golf, Dad and I took our usual jaunt over to Colwood for a round of 9 holes. I always liked playing well with Dad and then not saying much about it because that seemed to work the best. If you don’t brag about it, then he does, and it just feels that much better. On this particular day I got the putter going. Colwood is fairly short which means I could reach the greens in regulation ( I struggle to reach on par 4’s in the 400 yd range ). So I was getting on in 2 and on 2 of the first 6 holes I drained a long putt and was sitting at 2 under. I walked up the 7th fairway like “I do this all the time” and tried to contain my excitement. But Dad couldn’t contain his. I know he was trying not to jinx me, but at the same time he knew, my son is 2 under par with 3 holes to go and he knew a pretty good story was unfolding.
Then I parred 7 and 8. Was I capable of shooting a 34? Oh man, that would be a family record of some sort. The 9th hole was a short 419 yd. par 5, slightly up hill at the end. I hit a decent drive up the right side and had about 220 yds to go. My second shot I didn’t quite hit on the screws as they say, but it was straight, and about 50 yards short of the green. Up and down for a 33? That was on my mind for sure. Dad would have done cart-wheels.
I pulled out the wedge and hit a high shot a little longer than I wanted and left myself a tough down-hill putt for my birdie. Crap. Not where I wanted to be. As I straddled over my putt, I kept thinking “I’m going for it. Never up, never in”, so I hit it a little harder than I should have to make sure it had a chance and it rolled about 10 feet by. Yikes! Not a 3 putt on the last hole! Damnit!
Sure enough, I missed left on may par putt and took a bogey on 9, but still ended up with 35 for the day. Rounds under par are pretty rare for me, but this one was special because it was with Dad and I can tell you many years later, he could practically play the whole round back to me because it was still fresh in his mind. He probably remembers it better than I do.
And today is the last day of Colwood National. Sad in a way, but fitting that it’s on the same day that Dad passed away 6 years ago.