25: My Best Friend

25: My Best Friend

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Golf and Sport

My Best Friend

The language of friendship is not words but meanings.

~Henry David Thoreau

The agony of the final round set in off the first tee. It wasn’t Sunday. There was no tournament. It was just me and Matt, my golf partner of three years, not to mention my best friend since the third grade.

We had entered the world of golf as two youngsters with cheap clubs, inspired by our fathers’ stories of birdies, three-hundred-yard drives, and near-holes-in-one. For some reason these tales failed to hold true when we played with them.

Expecting to go out and conquer the game, Matt and I were quite surprised (not to mention angry) when we found ourselves humbled by a little white ball. Over time though, our swings became more controlled, good shots became more frequent, scores lower and our friendship stronger.

That summer, we entered a junior golf tour. We soon realized how much we had to learn, and how much we wanted to win. We had been in the game for two years already, and we figured all we needed was some fine-tuning to give our game the extra edge.

We played almost every day after school that year with the hope that the hard work would pay off with victory on the tour next summer. Then we got the news.

“Andrew, my dad’s being transferred to Charlotte right after school,” Matt said when he broke the news to me. He was moving away following our freshman year and right before the golf season would start. We had only a month left together, so we decided to make the most of it. Golf was the only way we knew how to enjoy ourselves without facing the sorrow of separation. No matter what is going on, golf helps you forget by making you concentrate on the task at hand—beating the guy you’re playing with—and that was good enough for us.

We played and the time flew, and soon we found ourselves in what we realized was our final round together. We had tried to ignore it for so long, but now it hung over us. The only way to shake it was to continue the eighteen.

When all was said and done, we finished the game. Our scores were average. He beat me by three strokes.

Matt had to be home so he could wake up early in the morning and head out. We stood at the practice green waiting for his mother to come get him. Finally, she arrived.

“It was a pleasure playing with you.” I held out my hand. He shook, and then I half-hugged him, like boys do when they want to be men. I saw him off the next morning.

He played on a tour at his new home, and I competed also. One day, I received a letter in the mail. It was a scorecard and a picture of the leader board. Matt was atop it. He finally won.

Over the years, I received many scorecards from Matt (unfortunately more than I sent him). I keep them in my golf bag for good luck.

I guess the magic of golf isn’t the course, or the swing, or the sound you hear when you hit a solid 3-iron. It’s the feeling you get when you beat your best friend, or lose to him, for that matter.

And sooner or later you realize that you didn’t play every week because you were golfers; you played because you were friends.

~Andrew Galanopulos
Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul

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