The reality that I've retired as a hockey player finally sank in
when the NHL season began on Oct. 1 and I remained at home. Our
house overlooks the 13th fairway at Sherwood Country Club
outside Los Angeles, and instead of spending another season on
the ice, I have been playing golf almost every day with my wife,
Janet. She took up the game about a year ago and is getting
pretty good. (She even won the closest-to-the-pin contest during
Scott Hamilton's charity tournament this summer.) Our three
children play too, and take lessons at the club.
I took up golf when I was 18, around the time I broke into the
NHL. Today I carry a nine handicap, but compared with my fellow
recent retirees, John Elway and Michael Jordan, I'm far from
Great at this game--just ask the Secret Service agent I beaned.
The guy was stationed behind a tree while I was playing with
former President Gerald Ford, who has a reputation for spraying
the ball and hitting people, when I roped one into the woods and
tagged the agent. Unfortunately, that was not the only time I've
plunked someone. The first pro-am I played in was at the
Canadian Open, and on the 1st tee I duck-hooked my drive into
the crowd and knocked out a 16-year-old kid. I think he broke a
couple of fingers trying to block the ball, and as if that
weren't enough, he suffered a leg injury when another spectator
tried to jump over him to get my ball.
I have no aspirations to become the greatest golfer or
athlete-golfer or hockey player-golfer or even the best Gretzky
golfer. I don't have that kind of passion for the game. Janet
and I are perfectly happy playing a fivesome with the kids or an
afternoon scramble with our neighbors Claude and Deborah
Lemieux. Family and friends--that's what golf is all about to me.
Wayne Gretzky will enter the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 22.
COLOR PHOTO: DAN THRIFT