Triplicate Staff

Just plain and simple, life isn't fair sometimes and you never know what bounce your going to get in the fairway of life.

Recently, my family and I suffered a great loss and I want to use this installment of "King of Clubs" to highlight a very special person and her first and only golf lesson, which I had the privilege of giving.

Almost two months ago now, I started giving free golf lessons at Kings Valley Golf Course. In the beginning there was great interest, and it continues to this day; for that, I am thankful.

But no interest was greater than that of the first person to call and schedule a lesson - my grandmother, Patti Haban.

I still remember the day she called me and wanted a golf lesson. I kind of chuckled and said, "Absolutely, Grandma! You need help on your putting?" We laughed. She responded by saying, "No, I just want to learn the sport, not how to play or anything like that but just to learn so I can relate better to the sport my grandson loves."

I was flattered but was used to it from her. That was Grandma Patti.

She was always a student of life, and if you were interested in something, she would be or become interested as well. She was a mother to all.

Our session started with a conversation on a park bench just looking at the first hole at Kings Valley Golf Club.

She asked me, "James, why do they call it 'par'?"

I paused for minute and responded with, "Um, I don't know, Grandma."

I felt embarrassed. After playing golf for 17 years, I couldn't answer her simple question. I could tell her how to hit a golf ball or why the golf ball does what it does, but I couldn't answer this most simple of questions. So, we looked it up and found that the term "par" is derived from a stock exchange term: A stock may be above or below its normal or 'par' figure. After that, we chuckled again and said, "No wonder it was a rich man's game."

We continued to talk about what makes par on a course - to that, I could answer her questions, thank goodness.

No matter what this life or golf has to offer me from here on, I will forever be grateful for that day. I became the student, learning from her that the simplest or most apparent things aren't always the most understood.

She taught me it isn't always about hitting the golf ball 300 yards or shooting a 65 course record, but understanding the game you play and why it is, what it is.

One day my grandmother and I will continue our golf lessons and talk about what great golf adventures there are, but until then I will strive to keep my performance in life at or above par. She wouldn't have had it any other way.

See you on the links, Del Norte County.

James Haban is an advertising manager at the Del Norte Triplicate. He can be contacted at or at 951-1047.