30 October 2016 (Pasadena, CA) It usually starts Tuesday night. I begin thinking about my round on Friday and my practice session on Wednesday. What do I need to work on? What course are we playing on Friday? Do I need a 3-wood in my bag for 200ish yards par-3s or an extra wedge? Wednesday hits and it is time to work it out in the dirt. I also start texting a few choice members of the Friday group to report a (false) injury that will surely require that they offer a few strokes a side. They never do and will report their own (false) injuries. We call it “rhetoric.” Pre-round, friendly trash talk. This is a great golf group. We have an ex-Vietnam vet, private investigator, retired law enforcement professionals, a financial investor, an attorney, a union business representative, a co-founder of a fantasy sport site, a philosopher and a theologian. Stand-up guys. Family first guys. Men I am happy to call friends. Men I want to spend 6 hours with on a Friday. No hot heads and surely no one’s Friday is ruined if we don’t put up the lowest number. But we are a competitive group. And that’s what makes it fun. We all want to do well and bring our various strengths to the course. There are the long drivers (really unfair how far some of these dudes hit the ball!). I’m hitting fairway wood on some holes where their drives leave them a short iron approach. There are the guys who hit mammoth and accurate fairway woods. I definitely don’t have that in my bag. A few gents hit great long irons making 180-in looking very doable. Then there are the short iron guys like me who have to be deadly accurate to keep up with the long knockers. Fun to watch how these different strengths inform our approach to the game. It’s like everyone has a different paint brush in their hand attempting to paint the same golf portrait. Always fascinating. Another interesting feature about this group is that very little gambling goes on. This may be one reason we get on so well. I have been in groups that have had intense arguments about a 2 foot gimme when a few quid were on the line. Buddies that no longer speak to each other because of interpretive disagreements. Sad and pathetic. Our group will occasionally put a dime on a round depending on how the group is constituted on a given Friday but it is definitely not the reason for the golf season. The real reason this group has done so well is because we have a great core group that shares a lot in common. Fridays are not only a sporting event but a social event. Our post-round lunches and conversations (after already spending 5 hours together) are always a great opportunity to talk about last night’s “big” game, our fantasy teams, our children in college, high school, or elementary school. The latest home project we are working on. Movies, music, business and leisure travel, and favorite restaurants. Hell, even politics and religion are fair game. The bottom line, however, is the game. It’s what ultimately brings us together. We got lucky with everything else. So to my buds in the HFGA–Jeff, PJ, Mike, Jack, Dan, Jim, Luis (and anyone else I may have forgotten as I write with a breakfast sandwich in one hand and two dogs on my lap) thank you and I fully expect the pain and swelling in my knee to be manageable by Friday (if not, I’ll use my putter as a cane).