Golfer, Musician and Father
For those of us with a more “normal” career path where we leave school, go get a job and try to get promoted. It can be fun to dream about what it would be like to do something that seems so far outside of our comfort zone like touring around the country to play music.
That’s what drew me to Griffin House’s story and finding his documentary so interesting. My career path has been pretty vanilla (until recently) so learning about his journey of getting a contract is a totally new subject for me. Then he has a family and he has to work to find that family balance just like all of us do. Engineer, musician, electrician or whatever trade you are, we all have to find a way to conquer our careers in a satisfying way but also provide our family with an abundance of love and attention.
Griffin has been performing for over 15 years, has toured with John Mellencamp, The Cranberries, Josh Ritter, Mat Kearny and Brett Dennen, and has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, CNN Newsroom, and Late Night with Craig Ferguson. He headlines almost 100 shows a year in addition to raising his two little girls, who are 5 and 7.
Becoming a father and husband has had a significant impact on Griffin, personally and musically; over the past ten years, his songwriting has transformed from break-up songs to ballads with depth about his changed views on love, the challenges of marriage and fatherhood, and the difficulties of staying sober as a touring musician (Griffin began recovery 6 months into his marriage, almost a decade ago).
He just released a new record called “Rising Star”, you can actually hear his daughters singing and talking on the first single "Mighty Good Friend". Listen here via Billboard:
Golf Digest named Griffin one of their “Top 100 Musician Golfers” twice, once in 2010, when he was named #10 (with Alice Cooper as #11). In 2016, they named him the #6 Best Golf Musician with a 3 handicap.
Rising Star Documentary
This is a big year for Griffin, he's releasing his first full-length feature film this year as well – a documentary also called "Rising Star", which he stars in and co-executive produced. You can watch the trailer here.
From Griffin House
I grew up in Springfield, OH. My dad was a +2 (that's plus two, not 2) handicap when he quit golf several years ago and club champion, and his dad was a good golfer too. They were pretty much blue collar guys. My grandfather Jack was a track and football star at Indiana University but blew out his knee during the all-star game and ended up coming home to work for his dad at Custom Tire in Springfield and never finished school. My Grandfather, who I called Poppy, took over the business from his dad and many years later he sold it to my father. Dad started working at the shop the day after he graduated college, and he’s still there to this day. I followed in my father and grandfather’s footsteps with the golf but I never worked a day in the tire shop. My dad would never let me.
He had a tense and stressful relationship with his dad. There were times my dad would come home from work in tears. I think my dad protected our relationship and was trying to look out for me by never letting me work in the shop.
I learned the game of golf mostly from my dad, and I spent the summers of my youth from sun-up to sun down playing golf on a beautiful piece of land in my hometown of Springfield. Dad was a magnificent ball striker. Not the best putter, if he had been, man, would he have been hard to beat. He was great with the longer clubs, especially the driver, and he could hit it off the deck with ease, much to the chagrin of his weekend competition. There were a lot of good golfers in Springfield and my dad was one of the best. He always hit a lot fairways and greens. I was kind of the opposite. I could hit it long, but I was wild. I could really get up-and-down though and I would practice my putting so much that I knew I could always play pretty well no matter how badly I sprayed the ball.
I won quite a few local and regional tournaments as a junior golfer, I was "Western Ohio League Player of the Year" and "Clark County Player of the Year" several years in a row and qualified to compete in some national tournaments. I had a scholarship offer to play at Ohio University but I was so disgusted with myself for not qualifying for the state tournament my senior year, that I let my own disappointment in myself really burn me out. I was getting interested in theatre and my girlfriend in high school, and I was learning that I really liked beer, and music. I tried out for some plays and got a few lead roles. One role was in a musical, "Oklahoma". I learned to sing in public during that musical and I fell in love with performing and singing for the crowd; I liked the spotlight, I guess. So, essentially I quit golf. I turned down the scholarship and I went to a different school where I picked up the guitar and joined a band and graduated with a degree in Creative Writing. The stronger my identity as a musician became, the further away I felt from the golfer.
I got pretty lucky with music and moved to Nashville after college and scored a record deal only months after moving to town. My life was writing songs and playing shows and touring all over the country. Often meeting people I’d grown up watching on TV, like Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, the Cranberries. It felt like a crazy dream. After 5 or 6 years of touring and making records, I met my wife Jane in San Francisco and we got married there. She moved to Nashville to live with me and we started a family. I knew that I had to make some changes in order to keep my family life healthy, so I started touring less and I gave up drinking. Making those kinds of life changes were hard and awkward and I found myself home with more time on hands, and after 10 years of hardly playing at all, I rediscovered my love for golf.
I play now in a way that is pure enjoyment. It’s my relaxation, my meditation, a healthy escape when I need a break from work. My daughters Emma and Clara come with me to the range sometimes and Emma is taking a golf camp this summer. I play 9 holes once or twice a week at a local muni when I’m not touring. Golf for me has never been about fancy places or exclusivity and I often purposely rebelled in my youth against the common cliches of class snobbery associated with the game. I love it because it’s a study of a lifetime, for the pleasure of a purely struck shot and watching the ball sail through the air and sometimes land right next to the pin. I think golf kept me out of trouble as a kid and it continues to do so as a family man approaching 40. Some of the best memories I have are rounds of golf with my father, ending by watching the golden hour sunsets on the course I grew up on. I dream of going back there to my home, and growing old, playing golf in that familiar valley, and sharing the gift my father gave me with my daughters.