"Well, it's a little late for that," I told her.
"I know you're old, but you always make a hole in one," she said.
I took a long look at the hole we'd just finished: a short track of green AstroTurf, an uneven hill down the right side, two well placed bricks perfect for a ricochet shot. With my bright green golf ball, I'd gotten a lucky bounce for a hole in one.
"It's my turn next," she said.
We started playing just after she turned 3. Since then, my daughter's been in love with mini golf, or kid golf as she calls it. We've played in multiple states, fun courses, bad courses, old courses, pirate-themed courses, plain boring courses, and an incredibly cool UFO themed 9 holer in Chattanooga.
She's got a strange, tall posture when she putts. Her backswing is too short. Her hands are too far apart. Once, I tried to help her out with her setup position. Her response made too much sense to ignore: "Quit making it so hard! Just let me have fun!"
When she was 6, I told her I'd send her to a week long golf camp that met for a few hours every morning. She didn't have any interest. "I'm a kid. I just play kid golf," she told me.
I'm not terrific at kid golf. I try to be, but the balls are too hard and the rubber putters are too soft. And how in the world am I supposed to read the right amount of speed to get it through the bridge and over the back of the brontosaurus, but hit it soft enough so it doesn't go into the moat of stagnant water behind the hole?
But since the beginning, she's always been after the hole in one. I'm good for a few each round and my daughter usually makes a few too. But what she really can't stand is when I make a hole in one on a hole and she doesn't. She came up with a new rule that we play by: If I make a hole in one, she gets to play the hole until she does too. It's made for some long, frustrating afternoons. But I'm always, always amazed at the pure joy that erupts from her when her purple golf ball finally trickles into the hole, even after the 47th try. It's a vertical leap, a yelp, flailing arms, the sound of another kid golf hole conquered. Once she threw her putter as high as she could in celebration; I caught it just before it hit the nearby pond.
I've never made a hole in one on a regulation golf course. But one of these days, on what is sure to be something like my 4,389th attempt, my swing will be perfect, the bounce will be pure, and I'm going to put one right in the hole. And when I do, I'll be jumping for joy, just like my daughter.