For far too long, my golf clubs have collected dust and cobwebs in my basement.

The last time I swung them? I clearly can’t remember.

Many things have gotten in the way. A pandemic. A balky left knee. Work. Family. Other interests. As time passed, so did the passion to play. Given a choice of activities on a day off, golf quit coming to mind.

That may no longer be the case.

Thank you, Pepsi Little People’s Golf Championships, for stoking my appreciation for the game.

Spending time at Westview Golf Course and the Knights of Columbus Par-3 Course as the junior golf event returned to Quincy for the 48th time allowed me to see golf’s beauty.

From mammoth drives to clutch putts, from doffing your cap on the 18th green to pulling the flagstick for a fellow competitor, from an entire foursome searching for a lost ball to raking bunkers for each other, the participants made golf look, feel and sound special.

For them, it is.

“That felt great,” a 13-year-old playing at Westview told his dad as he walked off the second green after making his only putt even though he had to write a triple-bogey 7 on his scorecard. “I hadn’t made a putt like that all week.”

The dad smiled.

“Go make another,” he said. “You can do it.”

Off they went in the direction of the third tee box hoping the good vibes continued, not stressing over the number of strokes.

Certainly there were those grinding over short putts and concerned with every stroke as they chased a championship, but there were abundantly more golfers seeking competition, improvement and the chance to play a unique and challenging course.

They played for the spirit, not the score.

That’s how most of us should play. Scratch golfers are rare. Ones who make money playing are even rarer. With Quincy’s long history of talented golfers, only two have been card-carrying members of the PGA Tour.

Many talented golfers are weekend warriors or men’s league regulars. They strive to shoot low, but still get excited about a birdie and take the bogeys in stride. Getting so stressed by bad shots you throw an entire set of irons in a lake — I’ve witnessed it — isn’t the way to play.

It robs the game of its beauty.

A couple days spent watching kids play restores it.

No clubs were thrown. No cuss words were uttered (at least not loud enough to be heard). No reason for any unsportsmanlike penalties.

It was golf in its purest form, complete with handshakes and hugs.

Seeing that reminded me it’s time to dust off the clubs and get back in the game.

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