I’ve driven past the entrance to the Bellingham Golf & Country Club thousands of times during my 30+ years in town. I’ve even attended a couple of Chamber of Commerce events there over the past few years. But play golf there? Nope. Never. Well that is to say, not until last Tuesday morning.
Here’s how that happened. At one of the aforementioned Chamber events—the one where we bade a fond farewell to our buddy and former Chamber President Ken Opplinger—Tyler Byrd, owner of Red Rokk Interactive, made the mistake of mentioning to me that he was a Country Club member. Then, to compound his error, he went on to suggest that we should play here sometime. “Um.. yeah sure,” I coolly stammered while trying not to wet my pants.
This is a private course so you have to be invited by a member to play and most seasoned locals would never tempt fate or their membership status by inviting the likes of me into their midst. But luckily for me, Tyler’s kind of a new guy so I pounced at the opportunity before he could change his mind.
From that moment on, I became one of those pesky little underfoot puppies that keeps jumping up at their owner’s knees and panting, “Will you play with me?“ “Can we go play? Can we? Can we? Can we? Come on, when we gonna play?” If you’ve ever had a puppy, or even a 2-year old child, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Finally, in order to shut me up, Tyler set up a round for us on a bright and shiny Bellingham summer’s day… it was even a work day which made it all the more fun… I’m all about playing hooky.
My first disappointment of the day came when I found out that there was a kid’s golf camp and the driving range was full of young prodigies, or at least wannabe prodigies. Drat. Not that I would want to deny these kids this great opportunity, but I have become kind of addicted to my warm up routine. I typically factor in a half hour or so hitting 30 or 40 balls while repeating the mantra, “Today, I am a golfer.” Today, however, my mantra was in jeopardy.
New course, new golf partner, no warm up. I walked to the first tee putting on a brave face but was definitely a little nervous. I teed up, took a deep breath then a mighty whack and off the ball sailed… well actually duck-hooked into a small creek about 20-yards in front of the tee box where it hit a rock and sailed high into the air, across a foot bridge then back into the creek on the other side. That was my second disappointment of the day.
“Mulligan!” I muttered then teed up a second ball with near precisely the same result, only this one did not bounce out. I glanced at Tyler embarrassingly and dropped a ball near where it entered the hazzard then hit another squib that barely crossed the creek and settled in some trees that lined the right side of the fairway.
OK…so this is how my day is going to go? Golf can really suck! Luckily, the golf gods took pity on me and after that most inauspicious of beginnings, I pulled it together and had a pretty good round. Tyler turned out to be a really fun guy to spend a half-day with and after working our way through a fivesome in front of us, we managed to finish the round in just a hair under three and a half hours. Great pace on a really nice course.
She saw it all!
After the round we went up to the deck overlooking that dreaded first tee to grab a beer and a sandwich when a cheerful young woman came out to take our order. She courteously asked, “How did you play today?” “Well, I only lost two balls,” I replied. “Oh, just those two on the first tee?” she grinned. Then followed up with a perky, “I especially liked that first one that bounced out and across the bridge!” So it was new course, new golf partner, no warm up and a delightful waitress paying really close attention… maybe too close. I was obviously hosed from the get go but as it turns out it didn’t matter. Fun is as fun does.
So, after having driven by the Country Club entrance thousands of times, I finally got a peek behind the curtain and discovered a truly special little world living right in the heart of town. The course is worthy of its reputation as one of Bellingham’s finest so if you find a member crazy enough and willing to take you out, do not, I repeat, do not pass it up. I had a very good day and most likely, you will too.
Go. Play. Golf.