The slap, slap of the windshield wipers told me that it was going to be a really miserable day to be playing golf. It also further backed up my personal belief that golf is as dumb as skiing, but just for older people. I had made the arrangements a month ago, and the two people I was going to play with had set aside the day in their busy schedules in corporate life. Since both of them are good golfers, I felt I could learn something if I hacked my way around 18 holes with them. What I learned is that the more I play golf, the dumber I am, especially when I try to play 18 holes while it rains a half-inch an hour.
My friends assured me when they made the reservation that the course is never crowded on Tuesday. It turned out that we were the only three people in this part of the world who were foolish enough to wade around this particular golf course.
Several times, the slowly flowing water was over the floorboards of our golf cart, but I didn’t even bother lifting my feet out of the muddy water because on the first hole, my ball was in the center of a large puddle. The saturated clay topsoil had the tenacity of a five-foot octopus and it sucked my right shoe off. By the time I got it back on, my sock was the color of the muddy clay and I had started to doubt my theory that if a scratch golfer will play in this kind of weather, there must be something I can learn from him.
We laughed at how hard it was to try and hit a golf ball that was always half under water, no matter where it landed on the fairway. Winter rules notwithstanding, we had to move the ball as much as a hundred feet from what would be considered the drop zone to get a spot dry enough to where we could put the ball on grass and still have enough room to get some sort of a hold with our spikes in the deep sticky clay.
I forgot to mention that before I left the clubhouse, I got nailed on the price of a pair of waterproof pants and a waterproof windbreaker. What I really should have bought was a facemask, a snorkel and a pair of swimming fins. When the club pro loaned me his waterproof hat and his waterproof glove, I realized that he knew something that I didn’t. The hat worked the best, because when I stood over the ball, the rain would really pour off of the brim. All I had to do was figure out where to line up the flowing water in relation to the ball.
Most of the sand traps were two-thirds full of water, so we played winter rules and took a drop on the sandy edge of the miniature lakes. When we sloshed into the lunch-stand at the turn to thaw out, I bought my own pair of Northwestern golf galoshes. Northwestern golf galoshes are 14-inch high rubber boots with golf spikes on the bottom. One can see how they might normally work on a rainy day, but that day, in some of the deeper puddles, the cold water just came right over the top of them.
Bob, Dan and I were laughing so much at the silliness of our first nine holes that we decided to keep right on playing. However, Dan knew the course a lot better than either of us and he magically skipped a hole, and in the driving rain and the low-lying clouds, Bob and I had no idea where we were. As we approached the green on what we thought was the third hole of the back nine, it turned out to be the green for the ninth hole. We had been sloshing around in the pouring rain for two-and-a-half hours, so when our tour guide, Dan, said, “How does a cup of coffee sound to the two of you?” we didn’t even bother finishing that ninth hole for the second time.
In the end, it turned out that the clubhouse restaurant was closed for the day due to lack of customers. However, we did get to play on our own private golf course and the green fee was only $18. Or, for me, $18 plus the cost of a waterproof windbreaker, a pair of waterproof pants and a pair of galoshes with golf spikes. After all, there is a small, but doubtful chance, that some other time in my life I just might be dumb enough to get into a situation where I can’t phone in sick for golf when it’s raining a half-inch an hour.
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