"Golf is a good walk spoiled." - Mark Twain
A few days ago, I stopped in to say hi to a friend who is an avid golfer. He asked me if I knew what day it was. "Thursday?"; I asked. "Besides that!", he said. "Um, the first day of golf season?" He said; "Close - The Masters Golf Tournament starts today! You are going to watch, aren't you?"
Yeah, sure I'll watch that, the same way I promised my mom I'd watch the curling!" Okay so I'm not a sports fan, but I can understand to some extent the passion that some people have towards their favourite sports. I have passion for music. I've just never really been into sports, mostly because of my low vision and overall lack of athleticism. I'm just not that coordinated. I've tried several things over the years, mostly to gales of laughter or looks of pity from on lookers and the poor soul who is trying to teach me!
Actually, I have tried golf, though I've never been on a real golf course. Back in the 70's, my dad was a member of the local golf club. He only had a couple of woods, irons and a putter but he would practice his swings in our large yard. He tried to teach me how to swing, but I really don't remember much of the lessons.
Our farmyard was so large, that dad even set up a 3 hole course. There were a couple of large flat grassy areas that worked well as fairways. There were lots of trees and shrubs and the nearby creek was a water hazard. He didn't have sand traps, nor did he plant special grasses for the greens. One of the holes could even be considered a dog's leg. You could also play that hole in reverse as dad put a hole at each end. One end the ball could overshoot into trees, a ditch or even over the municipal road. At the other end, it could land in a farmers field - which could make finding the ball challenging depending on what stage of growth that years crop was! It was a fun way to kill some time and enjoy the outdoors.
The actual origins of the game date back to the 11th century, but the most similar to the game as we know it today was established by the Scott's in the late 1400's. By 1567, even Mary Queen of Scott's was playing the game.
This past Sunday morning, April 13, I watched an interesting piece on CBS Sunday Morning called "The Long Drive". Phil Keoghan (emmy winning host of "The Amazing Race") embarked on a golfers' odyssey in Scotland. Over 4 days, walking a little over a marathon/day or 107 miles of putting a golf ball from Greenoch on the west coast over the neck of Scotland and ending at the fabled "Old St. Andrews Links" on the east coast for 18 holes - and he did it wearing the traditional Scottish kilt! He met many interesting people as he hit the ball along roads, meadows, towns and up hills. He also stopped at "Hilltop" a 1900's era golf course that has been restored to it's rugged glory and where the traditional handmade hickory sticks are used rather than the modern day clubs. A lesson in humility for even the best of golfers.
See "Keoghan Putts Across Scotland" at; http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=4013470n
I have several friends and family members who love to golf. I've heard many stories over the years. One of my friends had an encounter with a black bear last year while on a rural course. The friend I mentioned at the top has taken golfing vacations and even has a hole in one to his credit! Somehow I don't really see any of them wanting to try Phil's extreme golfing challenge, although I'm sure they wouldn't say no to playing at "Old St. Andrews Links"! Until then, they'll have to settle for the numerous golf courses here in Winnipeg and throughout southern Manitoba.
As it turns out last Thursday was actually the first day of the season for "Kingswood" a course near La Salle (10 minutes south of the Perimeter Highway) that opened all 18 holes that day. There was still some snow along the trees and in the rough, but the fairways were dry and ready to go. The club is usually the first to open as it uses a giant snow blower on the fairways in early March to clear the snow to about 6 inches. That means that as the weather warms the snow will melt faster and the course is ready earlier. Many other local area courses are opening over the next few days.
I know my golfing pals are chomping at the bit to hit the links and work on their game. Some took winter vacations and played a round or two, but many haven't played since late October or early November. That's a long time to go without being able to play your favourite sport!
Would I ever try golfing again? Sure - if I could find someone brave/crazy enough to take me. There is a "Blind Golfers Association" and I've read articles about an 85 and 92 year old blind golfers who each got a hole in one! So maybe there is hope for me yet.....