CLAYTON — Sports, by their very nature, are measured by winners and losers.
For the next nine Fridays, one high school football team will win, another will lose. Ditto for Metro Youth Football Association games, college contests and the NFL.
Even the games we play as adult “athletes” are contested to see who is the most skilled, the strongest or the fastest.
Many events, like the local road race or the best-shot golf tournament, have many winners — and many losers.
These events are measured not only by the “overall” champion, but by age-group winners in that road race or flight champions in that golf tournament.
Last Saturday a group of men met near here at the Guttenberg Golf & Country Club for the 25th annual Claytonian Open Golf and Poker Seminar. We’re still trying to figure out what happened to the poker “seminar,” but I digress.
There were many flight champions and flag event winners — the longest drive, the longest putt or the closest to the pin.
This year’s tournament crammed 92 golfers — most from the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City area — onto this beautiful 9-hole course that is surrounded by cornfields and, at one point, overlooks the Mississippi River.
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It was a long day, a good nine hours of golfing that included a two-hole playoff between a pair of two-man best shot teams.
It was a hot day with the afternoon sun baking the course and the 92 men, a few of who may have had an adult beverage of three.
But most of all it was a fun day, one all of these men look forward to every year.
Bob Stewart of Cedar Rapids pointed out during the opening ceremony — where founders Bill Chadima and Joe Martin, among others, received gifts from past and current Claytonian “brothers” — some would dread a long, hot day of golfing and waiting, golfing and waiting ... and golfing and waiting.
But, as Stewart said, to many this is “one of my favorite days of the year.”
As we become older “athletes,” the focus changes. The outcome isn’t what matters most. It’s the friendships. It’s the memories.
Everyone sets out to win, maybe not the overall title but, at the very least, a top-three finish in one of the flights. But there is no disappointment with “losing.”
In events like this — and I’m sure there are others — there are no losers. There’s hanging out with old friends and family, there’s meeting new ones and, if you golf like me, you might even hit a good shot once or twice during a nine-hour party.
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