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The Good Old Days. Were They That Good?

This last week, I took my eldest son golfing. We went down to my old home course of the Strand, which had, since I left the club and the town, added a lot of texture to its facilities.

Matie, at 5, shows some promise (if not discipline). A few productive swings on the range were followed up with a fun 18 holes of mini-golf (which included a hole-in-one for our protégé). Then, when we had enough and wanted to go hang out with Granny, we took a walk around the main clubhouse. I was stunned. It was as I remembered it – busy, golfers getting busy and caddies bustling and tee times announced. It was also filled with moms and young kids, courtesy of a pizza oven and a massive outdoor jungle gym that had been erected.

For context, when I started playing golf at 14 at the same club, I was mostly treated like a nuisance. They didn’t like kids at the club back then. We weren’t even allowed to tee up in the weekend competitions. The culture was dominated by the bad-tempered manager and the group of men who arrived at around 6 pm every day, not to practice their game, but to spend the evening at the corner of the bar. Young kids allowed? Fogetabboudit.

Often, I’ve wondered about those men. Did they have wives and kids? Why would they choose to spend every night at the bar, and not at home?

Maybe it’s a generational thing.

In South Africa, especially as white people, we often lament the way things have gone to absolute dogsh*t under an inept government. And we think wistfully of the “good old days” when we were in charge and things worked.

But here’s the thing about the “good old days”. They weren’t that good. Couples didn’t communicate, kids who were “different” were just shoved into the same shoebox, everyone who wasn’t a pale male had lesser rights and ignorance was celebrated.

These days, we have different challenges. But there’s a jungle gym at the golf club, a manager with a smile on his face and teachers who work harder than ever to help parents figure out the challenges and help them find the resources they need to do the best they can.

Celebrating our youth. Prioritizing time for family. Access to tools that help us evolve and battle our ignorance. These are all massive wins, in my book.

When’s the last time you revisited a childhood haunt, and found it improved?

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