Dear Dad, 

On this Father’s Day, I want to say thank you. Thank you for always being supportive and teaching me to work with my hands and solve problems on the go, just like you did as a welder and millwright for more than 30 years. It was about 21 years ago today when I first got the call from some hockey friends to come to the golf course and play. I had never picked up a club at that point, and I didn’t even know if I had clubs. Somewhere in our garage, there was a set of zinc cast Northwesterns in a bag with some Top Flites just waiting to be used. If I remember correctly, you bought them at a flea market years before. I don’t remember much from that first round of golf except I had a lot of trouble in a sand trap on the second hole that eventually left me feeling embarrassed before I picked up and putted out on the green. 

It was about 20 years ago today that you yelled down to me in the basement (I was most likely playing Nintendo 64). You brought me out into the garage and with a Black and Decker Workmate, some Varsol, and two-sided tape, and you showed me how to re-grip a golf club. Little did you know at the time, but that simple lesson set me on a path that would lead me to a career building golf clubs for PGA Tour players, famous athletes, celebrities, renowned businessmen, and everyday golfers just like you. I was only 18 when you and Mom sent me to what would be the first of two trips to Austin, Texas, to the Golfsmith Club-Building School. I not only learned from great teachers on how to be better at something I was passionate about, but I also made friends that I still keep in contact with.

We have played countless rounds of golf together in all seasons and weather condition, yet and I still remember the time when I was just starting out and you hit the flagstick on a long par-3 with what I think was a 5 wood. You were so excited! It was one of the first seasons I was playing, and at the time I thought, “Of course. You’re my Dad and good at everything, so this must be a pretty common occurrence.” Little did I realize that as a 20-handicap, hitting a flagstick was a pretty big deal. The funny part of that story is I have no recollection if you made the putt. 

Thank you for the early morning, summer drop-offs at the course on your way to work before the sun even came up (Mom did it, too). You guys loaded me up with bottles of water, granola bars and $5 for a burger, fries and pop after the first 18 of the day. Then there were the short fall days in high school, when three times per week you would pick up me and my best friend with our clubs and shoes already in the van so we could all get to the course and get in 18 holes before sunset.

Thank you for the connections I’ve made over the years in the golf industry, which I was only able to enter because of the support of you and Mom. For that, I always felt it was my obligation to do everything I could to take you to some of the best golf courses our country has to offer. Not just because I wanted to play them, but because I wanted to share each experience with you. Since our lives run on different schedules now, it’s not always as easy as it used to be to play golf together, but I cherish it every single time.

Last year, the most memorable round was the 18 holes in 90 minute at the public executive course in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. It also included non-golfer Mom, my wife (Dana, an avid golfer and 18-handicap), and you (now a 15-handicap!). In that round, the longest holes were 100 yards, the greens were tiny, we teed off from mats, and we played with two less-than-desirable rental clubs: a short-iron and a putter. Coincidentally, the short iron I selected from the messy rack was a Northwestern Conquest 9 iron that was a lot like the first set I ever played with.

Zinc_Northwestern

We missed putts we shouldn’t have, but you chipped in twice. Mom somehow managed to make two completely legit pars, and Dana made some huge putts including one for birdie. That was the most memorable round of golf I had all year, and I have no idea what I shot.

So as Dana and I are about to welcome our newest addition to our family — a yet-to-be named baby girl — I only hope I can offer her the same level of love, support and happiness in life in whatever she chooses to pursue. If I come anywhere close to offering her the passion and desire you gave me to pursue my dream, I’ll be doing an incredible job.

Thank you, Dad. 

Love,

Ryan

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Ryan Barath is a club fitter and master club builder who has more than 15 years experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour professionals.

He studied business and marketing at the Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf located in Toronto. He now works independently from his home shop in Hamilton and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers, including True Temper.

You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf and share his passion for club building, wedge grinding, & craft beer.

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