There's nothing like a vacation to refresh the mind after it's been brutally beaten down by the 9-5 grind day-in and day-out. That's exactly what I experienced over the last week and it only reaffirmed my belief that paid vacation time is as valuable as health insurance. A doctor may be able to cure your ailments, but getting paid to play golf and relax is medicine for the soul.

I reunited with my dad, brother and a good friend for 18 holes at my hometown golf course, Chardon Lakes. You see, I worked at Chardon Lakes for about six years - all through high school and one summer semester at college - and even though washing carts wasn't the most glamorous work, it also provided free golf. I couldn't even try to estimate how much money it would have cost me to play all the free golf I took advantage of over those six years, and when you count all the free guests I was also able to bring as well, there's no doubt it had to be more than I made there... total. My life consisted of washing golf carts, picking the driving range and then playing 9 or 18 at least four or five times a week.

It's why Chardon Lakes holds such a special place in my heart. It's a challenging golf course with fast greens and enough challenges to always keep the round interesting. Not that I need much help with that, but when you play a golf course so many times and it's still fun you know you've found a great course. I may never send the owner a Christmas card because he always treated we little cart boys like garbage, but his course deserves all of Santa's loot.

The course has gotten enough love for one blog post, so let's move into the more serious stuff, like how the 18 holes actually went. We played best ball, my friend and I against my dad and brother, and I should have known better than to talk trash to my elders before teeing off on the first hole. The problem was, my team's drives were some of the longest, most beautiful shots off the tee I've seen (or hit) in real life. The kind that shot out like a cannon and just kept rising until the ball landed in the center of the fairway.

The problem? That's about as good as it got. Approach shots? Rarely hit the green. Short game? Forget it. Putting? Let's just say I felt like we had a case of the yips. For as much as I make fun of how much golf humbles me, I'm actually a decent player who routinely can shoot in the mid-to-low 80s. My teammate is just as good, if not better. Unfortunately with best ball, if both players have the same strengths and weaknesses on the same day, the score isn't going to end up very good. My dad and brother on the other hand seemed to get themselves out of everything. Bad tee shot? No problem... my brother would stick his approach to 10 feet. Over and over and over. Long putt from the fringe? That's okay... my dad would sink it anyway. It was just one of those rounds.

I can sum the entire round up in one hole: No. 12, Par 5, 471 yards, 10 handicap.

Us: 280 yard drive, middle of the fairway. Them: 260 yard drive to the left in the fairway. Being as sneaky as I am, I ran over my dad's ball and plugged it while they were watching my brother's second shot fly into a tree. My dad stood over the ball to hit, swung, took out the biggest divot I've ever seen and the ball went about 20 feet. I was beside myself with joy and he had no idea. We almost fell out of the cart laughing.

My second shot was a freak of nature. I pulled out my 7 wood and crushed it... too far to the left, but it miraculously hit a tree and rolled to about 25 feet. A stroke of luck since my brother's ball certainly would be unplayable. Or so I thought. We drove up and looked in awe at how my ball sat pin high after taking such a beating from that tree. Next thing I know, my brother chips it through two trees and lands it about 5 inches from the hole. They birdie, we four-putt for bogey.

Golf sure is a funny game. It didn't matter that we were only able to play one facet of the game well. Or that our putting was so bad my dad and brother were actually hoping we'd make a few just to keep it interesting. When you're on a course you love with some of your favorite people, the scorecard is an afterthought.