The fairways are brown. The greens have a kind of disinterested tint to them. The flags snap in the cold gusts. Patches of ice linger. Hardwoods stand dark and bare and evergreens shiver as winter runs a cold hand across their limbs.
From time to time, you see golfers trudging up a fairway, toboggans pulled down over their ears, bodies bundled in sweaters and jackets and probably some thermal underwear. Some will wear mittens between shots, some will carry hand warmers in their pockets.
And truth be told, some may have a sip of brandy from time to time to stave off the ague.
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You look out the window, shake your head and turn back to your clam chowder and think about springtime.
And about last summer. The heat that was almost unbearable at times seems welcome now. The rough that stole our golf balls and our patience wasn’t really all that bad, was it? Days were long and so were our tee shots, what passes as long for us.
But then it ended abruptly. We went from summer to winter. Autumn forgot to show up. And here we sit, watching those few bundled figures working their way around.
Why are they doing that?
Because there’s a golf course beckoning out there and some just have to heed the call, even if there is discomfort involved. Throughout the ages people have questioned the sanity of golfers. One reason is winter golf.
The game is addictive. If the course is open somebody will play, no matter how biting the wind, no matter how wet the fairways. Besides, the forecasters say the temperature will get above freezing in the afternoon.
I can’t talk. A few years ago, a harsh winter had kept me off the course for weeks. I finally had had enough. My friend Jim and I decided we would play the following Tuesday, no matter what the weather. And we did.
It was a cold, grey, windy day that called for toboggans and mittens, the whole Arctic outfit. We later learned that we were the only people on the course that day. My wife suggested that I might need to see someone, but looking back on it now, from the warm comfort of the clubhouse, it was fun.
And I suppose there is some twisted pride stuck in there somewhere, what you might feel if you went swimming in Lake Erie in January and survived.