Battling a small bout of winter greys and feeling an episode of cabin fever coming on, John Mark and I were borderline desperate to get out onto a golf course. I certainly wanted to take my swing that I’d been working on so diligently for a test drive.
Luckily, we able to take advantage of a recent sunny day on which the temperature peaked in the mid-40’s. At a little past 12:30 on a Friday afternoon, we were the first group to go off the first tee. Air temperatures remained below freezing until mid-morning, but it was almost pleasant by comparison by the time we teed off.
In retrospect, I don’t know that either of us really knew what to expect in terms of course conditions. Heck, even the golf pro asked me to pop in at the turn and let him know what kind of shape the greens (which apparently hadn’t been mowed in some time) were rolling.
We should have known something was amiss when neither of us could get a tee far enough into the ground to hit driver on the first hole. Granted, the first tee box remained in the shade of a few tall pines all day, but we just chalked it up the lack of warming rays.
Oh, if only that were the case. While there wasn’t any “casual ice” really visible on the course, every inch of turf I encountered, be it in full sun or intermittent shade, was fully frozen no more than a quarter-inch below the surface.
Our experience at the first green only secured the notion that we’d not be keeping a proper score for this round. From about 20 yards from the first green, John Mark hit a perfect high, soft pitch that must have landed within feet, if not inches, of where he was aiming.
Rather than landing softly, leaving him a short
par Birdie putt….THWACK! His golf ball bounced almost as high as it had been hit. As I laughed in disbelief, the second bounce was worse, as the ball shot careening across and off of the other side of the green.
I’ve played golf in unfairly fast and firm conditions, but nothing that Pete Dye or Rees Jones could dream up would ever compare to the challenge Mother Nature can cook up all by herself.
It truly became a round unlike any other I’d played. The new strategy involved trying to land the ball on the approach and let it run up towards the middle of the green, regardless of where the pin was located. In the back of my mind, I kept wondering if this is what some of the British Open courses are like in a particularly dry summer.
To counterbalance the concrete-like firmness of the frozen tundra, that the greens hadn’t been mowed in at least a week meant that once the ball stopped on the green, it wasn’t going to roll anywhere fast.
For the first time hitting off anything but a nice, level rubber mat in two months, I hit the ball about as well as I should have expected. I parred a few holes that I shouldn’t have. And I probably had as many holes that “X” would have been appropriate on the scorecard.
Regardless, it was good to get out on the course, to get a little natural Vitamin D, and to begin working on scoring rather than just putting a good swing on the ball. And I’ll be even more thankful once springs actually gets here.