Spring is almost here and in the Northern Rivers, the weather of late has been perfect for golf: cool mornings and warm days brushed with gentle breezes. Out on the course, everyone seems happy, even the ducks. Indeed, we had so much sunny weather in August that I have developed ‘golf foot’. This condition is not to be confused with ‘trench foot’ which is caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary, and cold conditions and which afflicted our WW1 diggers. Rather it is a condition in which your lower extremities come to resemble your driver in reverse. Legs are tanned by prolonged exposure to the sun while from the ankles down, your feet are silvery white. It’s not a look that you’ll see on the catwalks of Paris anytime soon!
And while it is lovely right now, we’ve had our fair share of wintry conditions. It hasn’t been super cold. Unlike the lady golfers from the Central West of NSW who ventured out to play their weekly comp despite fog and frost and being buffeted by icy winds fresh from the Alps, we haven’t had to contend with freezing conditions. However we have faced storms, hail and very, very wet conditions.
In June, we experienced a series of big storms. We could see them approaching but luckily made it through a game without a drenching.
But the storms brought water, a lot of water! The Mullumbimby golf course went under and was closed for a time. It reopened to walkers only. What we didn’t appreciate until we got to the course was that we weren’t really walking: we were wading and sloshing our way down the fairways.
Did you know that a golf ball can land on a puddle and skip along, skimming the water like a low flying ballistic missile? And just like a ballistic missile, have a homing device attached? I discovered that mine did! Without fail, my balls would come to rest in the deepest, most inaccessible drainage ditch. I’m a slow learner. It took a few lost balls before I dug out my most decrepit balls. But these balls wouldn’t get lost. Isn’t that always the way?
Even with preferred lie, conditions were tough. Balls would soar beautifully through the air only to come back to earth with a plop, nestling comfortably in the oozy mud. They needed and received a good talking to from our irons! Even the greens, where I have felt most comfortable posed real problems. On one green I watched in horror as my ball parted the waters, slowing down as it did so. What should have been a gimme putt became a three or four or five putt but who was counting? On the next, I of course over-compensated. My ball sailed past the hole onto the other side of the green and into the welcoming arms of a bunker. So considerate of it. Wiping: holes, balls, sticks, shoes, legs, shirts and buggies became the order of the day.
Even when it started to dry out, and we could see most of the fairways again, there was still a lot of water and mud about. All the water hazards were full and a mistimed shot spelled disaster. We beginner golfers very quickly came to appreciate the benefits of ‘laying up’ even if we couldn’t execute perfectly.
It was not all doom and gloom. We played with preferred lie and other benefits for over a month. I loved being able to place my ball on top of the rough grass with which I have had a long standing love affair. And it was good to get in all that iron practice. But I was glad when all was dry again. As a beginner golfer, I need all the run I can get.
And so Spring beckons. Determined to make the most of the great weather before the summer heat and humidity set in, we have found ourselves playing up to three times a week: some social, some comp. While like many, I have preferred playing Stableford, on Saturday I’ve agreed to play my first stroke round. Wish me luck, I’ll need it.
Oh, I almost forgot. As I was having a golf lesson on Tuesday, my coach Nicky told me that in Japan, Amateurs and Professionals stop for lunch at the end of 9 holes. Having consumed a delightful lunch and possibly some sake, they cheerfully resume their match. Beats our ten minute comfort break hands down! What do you think?
Happy golfing everyone.