Please Do as I Say…Never as I Do  

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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I have been very fortunate to have found the love of my life early, married her, and we have carried on a 37 year honeymoon, but I must tell you our only rough spot occurred over golf of all things.

My sweet little bride never liked golf and looked at me as being an overeducated golf bum who found a way to make a living out of a most silly game. This started to change as our three girls grew and Dad taught them to play. What a game to share with those girls, we could play everywhere.

My bride walked into the golf shop one day and announced that she now wanted to learn how to play; she had, after all, carted my oldest two around the New Mexico territories playing junior golf in every little town that had tee boxes and greens of some sort. Those girls played everywhere and Mom was transport, cheerleader and coach. Now she wanted to transition into player.

I am smart enough to recognize the potential for permanent damage in this situation, so I gave professional instruction, “Take this shag bag and go hit balls until you can reach the green (that target was 135 yards from the tee and trees blocked the certainty of a huge slice). Off she went with our youngest in tow.

After a few weeks, she came in and announced she could hit the green “often” and I shrugged, looked at my assistant and said I wanted to watch. My beautiful bride gripped the club for all she was worth and smashed ball after ball on the green with an action that defied description. With each successful shot curses followed and what looked like an attempt to hurl the club further than the ball. I was at the least dumbstruck! (This for me is just another state of mind). I looked at her and said, “Those were great shots! Why the cursing?”  To this day I will forever remember the words she uttered,“That’s what you do after every shot you hit. I thought it was what was expected.”

We now play golf together…a lot; no cursing, no throwing clubs, just a blissful state of sharing a wondrous experience. My honey giggles and hoots when she makes a birdie and looks at pars with the eyes of the child seeing success for the first time. I get to experience the true joy of golf through her eyes.

I highly suggest you play golf with your spouse. If you don’t have a spouse, find one; they make life so much more fun. If you are lucky enough to have children who play, you have an entire group. No children? Every golf course in the country has these strange beings called teenagers. Unlike the average teenagers, these are polite and their fondest wish is to play golf. Include one in your group. We did. We have three daughters and when we play, it’s now two tee times. My daughters have spouses who play and we have one granddaughter. We draw for teams now. The part about my spouse cursing? Well, we did take literary license with that but she did hit the green after two weeks!

Ask your local PGA Professional about group lessons. They are trained professionals who want you to enjoy this great game. That same professional’s goal is growing your game.  And, next time you see that teenager on the practice green ask if they would like to play a game, it will be an experience for all.

See you all on the tenth tee. Looks like there is a crowd on the front nine.

Tom Velarde is the Director of Golf at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico,
just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email