Before I start, I want to give props to a blogger I’ve recently discovered. She calls herself “dizzyblonde” and she blogs at confessionsofadizzyblonde. I have added it to my blogroll and I encourage you to read it. Lately, she has touched on feelings, issues and conflicts that we all face as humans. I have been inspired by her writing and it’s my hope that you will, too.
We are beginning a stretch of warm summer weather here on the coast. Temperatures are expected to reach into the upper 80’s and low 90’s. YUCK!! I can tolerate low 80’s with low humidity. Once the temperatures and humidity rise, I become a grumpy Middle-Aged Head. I don’t like hot weather, especially when I play golf. I guess my thermostat is set much lower. If I play golf in summer, it’s late in the afternoon or at dusk. With the sun low behind the treetops, it makes for a more pleasant environment for golf.
That’s why I received a wonderful gift last night.
The is a 9-hole municiple golf course close to my former home, when My Son and Daughter still live. Thurday night is our night to have dinner together. Last night it was My Son and myself. After a dinner of cheeseburgers and general silliness, he wanted to get home early to solidify plans to watch the Celtics/Lakers game (no, it did not end well for the Boys From Boston…don’t get me started). I grabbed my keys and phone, pausing for a moment and gazing out the window. Then, looking on the opposite side of the bed, I saw my golf clubs practically screaming at me, wanting to be taken out for an early evening stroll. Why not? As I shouldered the bag, My Son asked if I planned to sneak onto the muni.
We both knew that the clubhouse closed at 7pm, with the ball washer and deck furniture dragged inside for secure keeping. Once the attendant leaves for the night, there’s nothing from preventing anyone from jumping on and playing a few holes. It wasn’t a great surprise to My Son that his Dad was following through with an act of deceit. If there was an honesty box, a place where you could stuff a few dollars, it would be different. The box would act as a reminder that golf is a game of ethics and honesty. You are your own referee and judge. You call your own penalties. It’s the right thing to do. But if you roll your ball in the rough for a better lie, or decline the stroke penalty if the ball moves as you attempt to putt, you are obligated to penalize yourself. Failing to do this is not in the spirit of the game. It’s cheating. But, if there is no opportunity to make payment and the remaining greenskeeper doesn’t kick you off the course, there is nothing to prevent you from hitting away. You may be thinking, “you’re contradicting yourself. How can you observe the rules of golf, with fair play and integrity, but not pay for your round?” No doubt it’s a slippery slope, but the USGA only mandates rules, not collect greens fees. But that’s an issue of semantics.
I love to play alone at dusk. By that time most of the golfers have gone home, leaving only the die hards on the course. There is nothing worse than having to wait on the tee, for a group ahead who is playing slow. Playing at dusk allows you to play a relaxed and casual round, savouring the smell of the grass and the sight of a well-struck ball. In my younger days, when I began to seriously play golf, I read any book on golf I could find. One of the most outstanding discoveries was by Herbert Warren Wind, a venerable scribe of golf for over 50 years. The title was “Following Through”, an anthology of his articles from the New Yorker magazine. He was a thorough researcher and wrote eliquently, often taking 10 – 12 pages for his articles. I had written a letter to Mr. Wind, saying I was a fan of his and his work. Two weeks later, I received a note from Mr. Wind, carefully written with a fountain pen on good paper. He appreciated my kind words and offered some suggestions: that I explore the courses of the British Isles to fully appreciate the game, and to enjoy a game of good golf at dusk. That letter has a place of honor next to the framed letter from Ben Hogan.
My game of early evening golf took on a relaxed feeling. I hit shots with a smooth, relaxed swing to wonderful results. I had great luck on the greens, which were in the finest condition in my memory. I enjoyed watching a young father and his son, playing with a single club apiece and not concerned with distance or accuracy. I played two balls on some of the holes, allowing myself to play shots from different angles. Since the greenskeeper had collected all the flags from the greens, I had no idea where the holes were located, causing me to shoot to random locations on each green. It was so much fun. I would close my eyes as I strolled the course, breathing in the course deeply, so grateful for this wonderful gift.
My endorsement of dizzyblonde and the tale of last night’s golf game go hand in hand. Both are a reflection of something we ignore too often: taking care of ourselves by doing things we enjoy. dizzyblonde had touched on this in a post earlier in the week, that we neglect to take care of ourselves and give up things we love. We are defined my many things: our job, geography, income, and possesions are a few of the scrutinized pieces of our lives that have little to do with who we are. Our only definition should be that we are alive, that we should live our lives to the fullest by encorporating our passions. Stepping outside our doors every morning is an exercise in recognizing that we are a part of a community. From that community comes opportunity to enhance our lives in the most profound ways – attending a concert or a play, watching a ballgame, strolling the park, or enriching our lives by getting involved. By playing golf last night I was participating in my life. I was out in the world, doing something I loved, and enriching my life by enjoying the natural world. I came home afterwards happy, sweaty, a little dirty, but extremely happy.
We should all have evenings like this.