One of the great things about golf is that whatever the situation, you have options; full swing 9-iron or choke down and punch a 3-iron… you know the drill. One of the great things about golf in Whatcom County is you have lots of options too. Case in point. I wanted to play golf on the last day of the year; kind of a symbolic tradition that Mr. Mudd and I have observed for the last 15 years or so.
When we got up on Monday morning, it was 28 degrees and frost lined the sidewalk to my morning paper, but no worries. It was supposed to climb to a balmy 37 and links courses in Bellingham don’t have trees (aka: shade) to deal with so either North Bellingham Golf Course on Smith and Meridian or Homestead Golf & Country Club out in Lynden would surely let us on by 9:30 or 10. So off to North Bell we headed only to find frost covered fairways and a line of poor saps sitting in the coffee shop talking, looking and hoping… but a touch of fog rolled in and pretty much dashed all hope that anyone would tee up before noon.
But remember, I mentioned “options” at the opening of this article, so Mr. Mudd and I headed north to Lynden and Homestead. There was a frost delay in effect there too… but the pro was confident that he could get us out by 10. It was around 9:30 so we headed to the bar for a mimosa… hey it was New Year’s Eve so a breakfast drink was in order. Right? As we sat there, staring out the window and waiting to see someone head to the first tee… or, for that matter, even the driving range… it started to snow. Lightly at first than harder until the 9th green we were sitting above began to turn white. The green was obviously colder than 32 degrees so the chances of playing at all got increasingly chancy.
Mr. Mudd, if I haven’t mentioned it before, is a really antsy guy. If there was ever a personification of Newton’s law of physics, “A body in motion tends to stay in motion…” Mr. Mudd is that person. He paced incessantly from the bar to the window to see what was going on; would return to the bar to make his report; sit nervously for 10- or 15-seconds then jump back up, peer out the window and return to report. And so it went for nearly 20-minutes until it was apparent that Newton’s “external force” would need to be applied so I took up the challenge and called Sudden Valley Golf & Country Club.
Sure enough, due to the micro-climate created by Lake Whatcom and the surrounding mountains, the temperature was a crisp 37 and the course was open for play. Shucks, we’d have to drive cross-county to another of Whatcom County’s gems but it would keep Mr. Mudd occupied and if he’s happy, I’m happy. So in 40-minutes we pulled into the Sudden Valley parking lot; there were two other cars.
You really should play Sudden Valley. It is a wonderful course whose nines are as different as night and day… or should I say hill and dale? The front is nestled along the shores of Lake Whatcom, fairly flat, dotted with ponds and streams with great views of the lake and hillsides. The back nine climbs up into the foothills with heavy tree-lined fairways. Three deer families, does and trailing fawns grazing casually, barely noticing our presence punctuated the ambiance and scenic beauty.
The course was in great shape, the fairways dry (at least more bounces than plugged lies) and the greens as true as ever. One tip about the greens at Sudden Valley is to take dead aim at the cup. As a rule of thumb, if you give away the hole, regardless of what you’re reading, you’ll end up having to hit again.
Options? You bet! The game of golf has plenty of them and in Whatcom County, options extend to the many really fine courses that can be played year round. The only thing that’s required from you, going back to my friend Sir Isaac Newton, is to overcome inertia, grab the clubs from the garage and head out; especially in winter when the crowds are low. Our round at Sudden Valley took just a hair over 3-hours and we didn’t rush a single stroke. Go play.