Jack takes down his old man

There is a point where every father relinquishes alpha male sporting status to his son. I did not expect this to occur when my first born was only five years old!


The website blurb for Hedgend Maze family park in the Yarra Valley invited us to “explore a beautiful 20 acres of stimulating and fun filled activities for all ages, with unlimited mini golf.” It said nothing about Jack pulling putt after putt out of his arse while also displaying course management like expertise that Nick Faldo would have been proud of.


How did I lose a game of mini golf to a three foot tall scallywag that still sleeps with the light on?


Normally I play scant regard to Jack in sporting contests. When we play cricket I look down the wicket with complete confidence, much like I suspect Viv used to when Tony Dodemaide was in his delivery stride. Arrogance and knowledge that only a heart attack mid back lift could stop me from pumping the ball back over his head if I choose to.


The first two holes were simple enough. Regulation pars for all concerned on a seemingly simple track that was more cement than carpet, after decades of wear. I was a little concerned that the putter I was given was the vintage David Graham used when he was a trainee pro though.


It all unraveled on the third. Mrs D, Harry (aged 3) and Jack all bunted the ball up the straight 30 metre hole with a tricky raised front. I wanted the ace. The ball slammed into the back wall and returned back down to my feet. Two off the tee and I went conservative, lagging the ball to just below the rise, to leave myself a short two footer for par. I pushed it right, hit the wall and came back down to where I was still standing. Attempt two saw the same result. Attempt three saw the same result. After attempt four I was having my own Tin Cup moment. Everybody was laughing. Red mist was starting to build. Attempt five saw me playing for a break that still wasn’t there. I was living proof of Einstein’s theory of insanity.


Anger kicks in. I contemplate turning the putter upside down and trying to pot the black. Mrs D has taken the scallywags to hole 4, while I’m patting down the worn carpet like an opener on a day 1 Gabba greentop. I conclude the best way to get to the hole is a series of short 20 centimetre puts up the hill. Jack worked this out 10 minutes ago as he tapped in for a solid par. Mrs D knows not to look sideways as she marks a 10 on my card.


14 holes to go. I’ll claw back the lead. Holes tick by and Jack is diligently hitting it to the right spots, dodging tyres, going through tunnels and knocking in three footers like he is Ben Crenshaw. I’m hacking it around just trying to stay in touch. We make the turn and I’m still six shots behind.


I could go down today. I’m not ready for this. I’m hoping young Harry will soon lose interest and wander off the course, or perhaps wet himself, so I can excuse myself to assist with a clothes change. I could save face and tell myself that I would have dragged in the deficit. Yes, that’s right, I am actively barracking for youngest child to wet himself. I may hold off on putting in that Victorian Father of the Year nomination just yet.


I’m not a great golfer, yet wouldn’t put myself in complete hack territory. I probably float somewhere between an 18-20 marker. That being said, I’ve never been able to putt. I leave five foot uphill puts a foot short, as not to risk a ‘tricky’ two foot downhill putt coming back. If there was a support group for problems putters I would be front and centre. “Hi, my name is Craig and I can’t putt.”


Jack continues a flawless display through holes 10-16. He is picking the sweet spot on every wall, judging breaks and knocking down anything within five feet. My mind is wandering. I thought Jack wouldn’t get me in any sporting contest until he was at least a teenager. How have I fallen off the cliff so quickly? Is it the baldness? Perhaps the fact that I can’t even touch my socks, let alone my toes? Should I have stayed off the Carlton Draught last night? Global warming? I need an answer!


Mrs D has shot past me as well. She is well aware of my putting fragility. I’m now a distant third. I’m holding Harry at bay. I need small victories at this stage.


Hole 17 and I ace it. Maybe I should walk off triumphant? Everyone will just remember the ace (I tell myself). Jack stumbles. He keeps hitting too long into the back wall and sees the ball return to his feet. The three-foot-scallywag is getting cranky, I’m hoping for a meltdown and a Mrs D intervention to call a return to the Camry and a DNF. Jack composes himself to walk away with a seven.


We walk up 18 (all 28 metres of it). I let Jack walk alone, much like the leader on a Sunday afternoon at Augusta. He has earnt the right. In the space of 33 minutes he has completely destroyed his old man (winning by 5 strokes) and taken the status of Alpha sporting dog at Dodson HQ. I feel old. Jack doesn’t understand the gravitas of his accomplishment. One day I’ll tell him the yarn.


Is this the start of a string of defeats in future years? I can hold him off in table tennis for a few years given he still can’t see over the table. I’m still a steady hand at Bocce. I should still be able to win the hitouts for a few years, until I start shrinking. I will be a proud weekend warrior. Priceless memories will be had along the way.


Where to from here? Next time I’m bringing the Ping Putter and walking the course in the morning. Well done, Jack William Dodson. You have the crown, yet we will meet again my little friend.

About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.


  1. All down hill from here Craig. You are old, face it. Cheating works sometimes but I am too honest and confess later. Invoke the ‘old man’ rule such as the three point ring comes in closer for people over the age of 30 (55 in my case). My son is 21 he is now smarter, taller, stronger, better-looking and beats me at just about everything. My feeble attempts at most things competitive only result in more pain and anguish. When he was in grade 3 in won the school x-country and went on to the next round. I suggested that we train at the oval, I said we will run up that hill, past the netball courts and then round the back of the oval. He took off and I didn’t run up the hill just yelled ” you seem to have got the hang of it quite well.” I gave up running. A few years later he makes the State cross country and 1500 athletics, he suggests I help him train by riding a bike with him. He beat me on the bike despite me cutting corners and skipping a whole section. I gave up cycling. I did manage somehow to beat him at PlayStation game and did not play for a full year saying I was the reigning champion. The one thing I rely on now is that I tell him from when you were born to age 4 I beat you at everything and you can’t remember so I am still ahead….

  2. PS Craig, brilliant, loved it.

  3. craig dodson says

    Thanks for the heads up on what lies ahead. I like the tactic of delaying matches for a year to savour the victory, I may just have to use that in time. Glad you enjoyed the read. Cheers, Craig

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