From 2004 it became an annual expectation that I would not be home on Father's Day. Don't feel sorry for me, especially if you're a golf fan. I reported on the last round of the United States Open, which has been held on Father's Day every year since 1976.
It will be different this year, like for millions of golf fans and the fathers among them. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 US Open at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Westchester County, N.Y., was postponed to September 17-20. The symbiotic relationship between America's National Golf Championship and Father's Day will be interrupted on Sunday.
And so the pandemic puts our routines to the test again. There will be competitive golf to watch this weekend as the PGA Tour filled the vacant spot with the RBC Heritage, an event in Hilton Head Island, SC. It's a good tournament, but it won't offer the traditional Father's Day television watching because we won't be watching multiple golfers late on a holiday Sunday struggling to endure the melting pot of pursuing a big championship win.
And in many homes across the country, there won't be a shared experience exclusive to Father's Day either. Not every household is filled with golf fans (ask my wife), but seductive drama is not determined by the stage, but by the adversity, perseverance, exaltation and pathos depicted on it.
Fathers who play golf and the many more people who just enjoy watching it enjoy the fruits of many gifts on Father's Day. Gathering their children and others who are important to them to participate in – okay, enduring – an annual ritual of watching the last hours of the US Open is one of them.
I know this because in my earliest days as a father of three, I usually did not participate in the US Open. But I camped in front of the television and my kids and my wife usually pretended to do what was going on. (I occasionally bribed them by setting up a prize-filled lottery, where everyone in the house was assigned four warring golfers, so the tournament winner was not the only one to celebrate fourth.)
But the point is, it was fun, and it became tradition indeed. It was being together. It was Father's Day.
Things certainly changed between the time I sometimes covered the US Open in the 1990s and it became a standard June assignment.
During the tournament, the camaraderie of colleagues who are also away from their families, and the feeling that you are lucky to be there – and a lot of crowds – made the day pass quickly. would occasionally surprise me and show up at my accommodation on a Saturday night so we could have at least a Father's Day breakfast. Over time, my oldest daughter eventually got a job that sporadically merged with golf, so she worked at US Opens in the mid-2010s. As evidence of the bond between her siblings, her younger sister and brother have also made their way to two recent tournaments.
I've noticed over the years that family reunions like this often take place at the US Open. Having gone through several courses over the decades, I've gotten used to seeing hundreds of parents and grandparents on the edge of fairways and greens with their kids and grandchildren. It's more common at a US Open than other major championships, probably because the tickets were bought as a Father's Day gift.
The competing golfers also bring their fathers. Some of the most heartwarming scenes near the final green were between dads and sons, including last year's winner Gary Woodland, and his dad, Dan. Twenty years earlier, immediately after Payne Stewart defeated Phil Mickelson in the last hole of the US Open, Stewart had the selflessness to remind Mickelson that he was about to become a father for the first time. The next day, Mickelson's wife, Amy, gave birth to a daughter.
Even if a father could not be at the height of a victory in the US Open, he was not forgotten. In 2013, after Justin Rose sank the last well in his win, he looked and pointed to the sky in tribute to his late father, Ken, who had fed his love for the game.
My streak of US Open visits was broken last year, in a very literal sense, when the day before my flight to the tournament, I shattered an ankle while running in my area. I spent my Father's Day in 2019 in a medicinal mist after reconstructive surgery two days earlier.
This week, I was looking forward to my return to the US Open, but being home and fit, because Father's Day is more than a fitting result. All over the world, there are bigger things to consider and resolved than the interruption of a sport's connection to an annual vacation.
Know this, however: the last round of the US Open 2021 is scheduled for June 20. as usual, is the third Sunday of the month, Father's Day.