I like playing golf during our Bellingham winters for two reasons. First, it keeps fair weather golfers all snug and cozy in their TV rooms watching football or Dr. Oz reruns and away from the courses. Second, and much related to my “first” comment, it significantly increases the odds of playing a round of golf at a very comfortable and reasonable pace.
This past weekend illustrates my point. There were high wind and heavy rain warnings all over the news, in the sky and anywhere else you cared to look. By most accounts, not an ideal day to hit the links—but my son Ryan and I are not easily deterred.
We wanted to play Shuksan and decided to meet for breakfast at the Hilltop Café out on the Guide Meridian. When we got to the restaurant, the rain was pounding so hard that it was bouncing off the parking lot’s blacktop and up my pant leg. We grinned at each other, but in some psycho game of chicken, neither of us was going to state the obvious, “Sheer stupidity!”
After our eggs, taters and toast—and a couple of mimosas to wash it all down—we headed over to the golf course. “I think it’s starting to lighten up,” I quipped as we pulled into the rain soaked parking lot. To our amusement and delight, there were only two cars there and one of those was the guy who had to open up that morning. He looked at us with a combination of suspicion and wonder, and felt compelled to say, “You know we don’t offer rain checks.” “Yes, we know,” was our sheepish reply. “I got two guys coming out,” he said into a walkie-talkie to the grounds crew who were probably hoping for a short day. “Yes I told them,” he replied when reminded of the rain check rule.
We hit a few range balls to warm up and headed over to the wide-open first tee box. Suddenly and without warning, it actually did lighten up. The rain and wind both stopped; or were so diminished that they ceased to be an issue. This happens all the time and is why we made the decision a long time ago that we would never pull the plug on a round of golf by looking out our kitchen windows. In fact, there have only been two times in my adult life where I got physically drowned off a course and one of those was because the course super shut me and Mr. Mudd down at the turn due to little rivers that were forming on the greens. It just doesn’t rain that steadily on most northwest fall and winter days.
Ryan and I teed off at 10:00 sharp and played at a relaxed pace; just hitting the ball, finding it, and hitting it again. We are ready golfers but not purposely trying to play quickly; just comfortably. We made the turn at 11:10! That’s right—1 hour and 10 minutes after we had hit our first shot—and the weather was holding. We were back in the clubhouse, ordering a beer and adding up our scores at 12:36—a two-and-a-half hour round! To keep it in perspective, we are not great golfers but not bad either. Ryan typically knocks on 80’s door and I expect to shoot between 85-90.
So the looming question becomes how, for heaven’s sake, can it ever take 5+ hours to play a round of golf if two guys playing at a casual pace can come in at just a hair over two and a half? (We actually suffered through a six-hour round at Kayak Point a few weeks ago.) The answer is similar to the comment we refused to utter at the Hilltop parking lot. “Sheer stupidity!”
It should not take rainy conditions to be able to expect to play a round of golf in 4-hours if every golfer would simply play ready golf. Hit it, find it, then hit it again. If you’re playing cart path only rules, carry a couple of clubs over to your ball if you’re not sure of the distance. If you don’t find it, drop another one and hit it. Play by the rules, and take your medicine, but at our amateur levels, it really, honestly and truly is not that important to play “straight-up” while the rest of us suffering souls stand waiting on tee boxes and in the middle of fairways from you all the way back to the clubhouse.
Golf is a game of honor—and perhaps the greatest compliment to your honor and integrity is to never have been accused of holding anyone up.
Go. Play. Ready. Golf.