Paula Hilton (center), daughter Jessika and mom Polly enjoy an afternoon of golf while the rest of us work our keisters off.

By Paula Hilton




That was me, trying to warn my sister my ball was coming. It zipped past her face while she was looking for her ball in the woods.


“You’re supposed to yell ‘Fore!’ before I get hit,” she said.


“Sorry,” I said. I’m kind of new at this.


Kind of new at this is an understatement. Our dad passed away last December after a difficult battle with heart and kidney disease. It was devastating, but we are a strong family and are slowly rallying and rebuilding the bubble we’ve lived in for 15 years.


In the meantime, our 82-year-old mom, who hadn’t played golf in almost two years due to Daddy’s illness, decided she’d like to get back into the swing of things, so to speak, and started bugging us to play golf with her.


My sister agreed first, so she got in a few games before I finally relented. She assured me it would be fun, but “no pressure” if I really didn’t want to go. No pressure? It was nothing but pressure. How could I disappoint Mom after everything she’d been through? I couldn’t. But the morning I was supposed to play I sat on the couch tying my shoes and grumbling about how mad I was about having to go play golf.


“It’s a beautiful day! I want to plant some flowers and hang out by the pool! I can’t believe I’m being forced to do this!” I complained to my boyfriend, Beachcomber editor Chris Manson.


“Maybe it’ll be fun,” he suggested half-heartedly. He knows how I am. I was determined this was going to be torture.


Six hours later, I was home and elated about how much fun we’d had. And yeah, I’d shot a 172 on the 72 par course, but so what? The course was beautiful, it was great being outdoors, I loved driving a golf cart, the water in the coolers around the course was refreshing and delicious, and I hadn’t heard my mom laugh like that in forever. And I’ve been hooked ever since.


Mom outplays all of us—me, my sister, even my youngest daughter who has a pretty mean swing. Mom laughs a lot, too. At me primarily, but I don’t mind. I’m pretty horrible. In addition to almost hitting my sister, I actually did hit my mother as she held the flag on a green as I tried to chip on. “Uh, fore,” I mumbled feebly.


“Look, you left a welt,” she said, laughing, pointing out the golf ball-sized welt on her inner thigh.


I did say I was horrible, didn’t I?


But what fun we have! Mom has a membership at the Fort Walton Beach Golf Club, so that’s where we primarily play, but there is an abundance of beautiful courses in our area. So if you haven’t given golf a try, you should.


And don’t worry if you get behind us. We’re really good about letting others play through. It takes us six hours to play 18 holes, but it’s six hours of bliss.


And don’t let the weather deter you either. We’ve played in rain, wind and blistering sun…all part of golf in beautiful Northwest Florida.

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