Thanks Dad

Words by: James Wilson

My Dad did everything for me (as did my Mum, but sorry Mum, it's not Mother’s Day). Part taxi service, part therapist, part investor, he herded me round the golf courses of the UK for the best part of 10 years, in the soft hope that maybe, one day, I could fulfil a childhood ambition of golfing stardom.

A few days ago I received a brief from the MANORS team to articulate this: ‘write the single most heartfelt story about a father and his golf-prodigy son.’

No pressure then.

Its immediately clear to me that it is not the job of a son to convey the magnitude of fatherhood. I pose the question to my Dad in a text message.

‘Do you have a memory of my golfing childhood that sticks out? I have a Father's Day article to write.

Dutifully, the following day, I receive an email, it reads as follows:


Early on I realised my golfing tips were not going to cut the mustard with young James and so my role became more managerial.

Filling out competition entry forms and sending them with an accompanying cheque in the post (it was the early 2000’s). Up early, making breakfast, packing bananas, nuts, cereal bars and water. Checking the bag for tees, balls and gloves, cleaning clubs and shoes and making sure proper golfing attire was colour coordinated, cleaned and pressed. Calculating when to leave the house so as to arrive at the course an hour before tee-off to enable time for a warm up.

Like most perfectionists (brats), James could become very frustrated, angry, hot headed. Golfing tantrums were semi-regular. The efforts to improve his outlook were constant though, and the moment of proof was nigh.

*The Scottish Boys Under 12 Championship (The Glen Golf Club, North Berwick)*

He got off to a steady start, decent front nine, no fireworks, then we arrived at the 13th tee. One of the most spectacular par 3’s in world golf. The sun was shining in a blue sky but there was a brisk Westerly, which meant the 160 yard tee shot was playing more like 180. A four iron was selected and sublimely executed. It leaves the clubface like a rocket straight at the pin (in 45 years of golf I had never struck a 4 iron like that). As the ball rose into the distance the wind tugged at it and it landed at the front of the green. The ensuing putt was around 100 ft. The first was raced past, the second lagged close and the third missed by the smallest of margins: a 4 putt.

I did not know where to look. Gulls screeched and the wind billowed but an eerie silence descended on me. Versions of what would happen next ran like a showreel in my mind: a club launch into the North Sea, a divot out of the fringe. But, none of the above.

I watched in amazement (and relief) as James calmly slipped his putter back in his bag and walked to the 14th tee. A few deep breaths, a few practice swings and a smooth, deliberate swing which sent the ball straight down the middle. A bounce back birdie was bagged and the round later completed in 79 blows.

It later became clear that he had won his age category: the U12 Scottish Champion. He accepted his victory with nonchalance, ignorant to the idea that 99% of golfers would kill to break 80 or win the Saturday medal at their local club.

My grandfather introduced my father to golf, he introduced it to me and I to my two sons. Its been a source of great enjoyment and bonding in a way that I believe no other sport can offer. As a Dad and manager with no instruction book, I am pleased to have given them that.

As I began to read his email, it quickly dawned on me. Its the first time he has written an article for me on request, but the notion is one of thousands that have come before. Without so much as a second thought, he has sat and typed out 2000 words at the drop of a hat. I called in need of something, and he was there to lighten the load. Making me breakfast before my tee times, packing snacks into my golf bag, restocking my golf balls. Its the same thing he’s been doing my entire life. Two steps ahead of me, clearing the foliage to ease my path.

The words are great but they’re immaterial, its the gesture that shouts the loudest. For this and everything that has come before, thanks Dad.