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Friday, May 31, 2013

A Little More on Rule 33-7

Check out Tiger Hype - Enough is Enough.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Shirley and Teenie: Golf Clears Your Mind

Shirley (left) and Teenie (right)
Ready for another round with the Star Fort Ladies Golf Association

I've been paying a lot of attention to the LPGA tournament season.  The Shop Rite opens Friday morning for a 3-day, 54-hole tournament that's going to feature some terrific golf played by some talented young women golfers.  The top contenders have been playing golf since childhood, their skills and competitive instincts honed to a laser-sharp focus by their families and a culture that encourages and celebrates competitive sports for girls as well as boys.  Today's professional women golfers in the United States are the first adult generation to benefit from the Title IX legislation that opened the door of equal access to young girls.

But how did those of us who came to the game of golf before Title IX opened the door find our way to the links?  Some of us, of course, were born into golfing families with country club memberships.  But what about the others?  No high school or collegiate golf teams were open to us.  I can't remember how I found my way to golf.  I just know that at some point in my late 20s I was walking down the fairways hitting balls.  My golfing friends, Shirley and Teenie, told me a story that I suspect is typical for many pre-Title IX women golfers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What's Important About the Process?

Sandlapper Tournament
Lakeside Country Club, Laurens, SC May 28, 2013
The LPGA Tour players who are warming up for the Shop Rite this weekend may be better golfers than the amateurs who played in the Sandlapper Tournament yesterday at the Lakeside Country Club, but there's more to a golf tournament than the final scores on the leaderboard.  The process of actually playing the tournament is crucial, and that process involves people as well as equipment and physical environment.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Long Goodby

We members of Star Fort Ladies Golf Association have managed to stay on the golf course through our cataract surgeries, lumpectomies, bladder tacks, diabetes struggles, mastectomies, and chemotherapies, deaths, wakes, funerals, and periods of excruciating grief.   We tee up each other's balls and retrieve them from the cup from time-to-time, share tips and tricks for strengthening damaged body parts, compare recovery times from minor and major surgeries, and sit quietly while our friends weep.  Given our average age, we treat each other's occasional memory lapses, absentmindedness, and verbal transmogrifications as inconsequential.  We're tough women.  Some of us are very tough.

Sudi, my friend of many years, is among the toughest. She was in considerably better shape than me the day we completed a round in 104-degree weather, in our matching hats.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Do the Women Know You've Changed Their Tee Time?

Tuesday and Thursday are regular golf days for the Star Fort Ladies Golf Association and our established tee time is 9:20.  We negotiated vigorously for this time, because it puts us in front of a men's group that also plays on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The men are old and slow (and don't even putt out their holes).  We are old and fast and putt out everything in our take-no-prisoners, don't-ever-concede anything approach to golf.

I got to the course a few minutes before 9, with enough time to hit a few balls, warm up my putter, and be ready to go at 9:20.  I was the first one to arrive.  When I walked in to the pro shop to register and pick up balls and a cart key, Sam told me our tee time had been changed to 9:12.

"What happened to 9:20?" I asked him.

"The men," he sighed.  The men?  "They don't want to start after 9:30.  It makes them too late finishing."

Thinking: They wouldn't be late finishing if they ramped up their pace of play.  "When was our tee time changed? Do the other women know?"

What's Your Rules of Golf IQ?

The Rules of Golf are arcane and detailed.  Most of us carry the Rules in our golf bags, but how much do you really know?  Do you have enough knowledge about this game we all play and love to render fair and accurate decisions during a round, without disrupting the pace of play?  Take this Rules of Golf quiz that's posted on the WSCGA web site.  (I just took the basic version and scored 40% -- not too good.)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rule 33-7

What, I've often wondered, constitutes a "serious breach of golf etiquette"?  Tiger and Sergio aren't the only golfers on the course who "don't enjoy each other's company," as Sergio explained during a live interview at the Players.  (At least most of us don't continue our petty feuds over Twitter.)  But when does that lack of enjoyment of another golfer's company cross over the line from irritation to a "serious" breach of etiquette?  When hot words are exchanged?  When the words contain accusations of dishonesty, or the exchange is peppered with profanity?  And, of concern to those of us who will forever remain amateur golfers, in routine, informal play, how can Rule 33-7 be invoked?

Monday, May 20, 2013

This Isn't Science

Perhaps it's because in terms of gross yardage from the tee box to the green par 3s are short little events, I expect them to be quick and easy.  Surely anybody who steps onto a golf course should be able to hit the ball 80 or 90 yards, I tell myself over and over (generally when I walk off a par 3 green with a double or triple bogie).  Even the weakest little-old-lady tee shot will travel that distance, and more, when squarely struck.

We're Not Alone!

This popped up on my Facebook page.  I couldn't resist sharing it.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fear and Anger: NO!

I promised myself that when I finally "retired" I'd give more of my time to golf and seek out broader, more competitive venues.  I''m a mediocre golfer at best, but I love golf and enjoy competition at a deep level.  Happily, the game of golf accommodates players like me: the handicap!  I've registered to play in my first state-wide tournament, the Women's South Carolina Golf Association match play tournament.  (I love match play because when things go wrong for me, they tend to go very wrong and match play absorbs my breakdown holes and gives me opportunities to recover.)  I'm simultaneously exhilarated and terrified.  I know both emotions intimately.  I suspect that's the case for most golfers.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nice Stroke

One afternoon after we'd completed our round, not too long after I came back to the game, I overhead one member of the Star Fort Ladies' Golf Association say to another, "Beth might make a fairly good golfer if she could putt."  Then they both laughed.  I resolved to do something, anything, to improve my putting.  I embarked on my self-improvement program by asking others what I should do.

"Just stroke the ball," Alma suggested.  I had no idea what she meant.  Stroke the ball?  I thought we were supposed to hit the ball.  I watched intently as people putted, trying to figure out "stroke" (as opposed to "not stroke."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Winter of Practice

Today was a perfect golf day, just a little chilly at tee time, but bright and clear and sunny, with just enough wind to make me think briefly about the ball drifting.

I'm an all-year golfer, so fortunate to live in a temperate climate. Still, we have "winter golf" with dormant grass, cold rainy days that are followed by unsatisfing rounds of mud-golf which, as my friend Betty Bates reminds me when I complain, are still more satisfying than cleaning our bathrooms, but not by much.  But today mud-golf was only a dim memory.  The weather was glorious and the company was pleasant.  Who could ask for more?

Monday, May 13, 2013

To My Russian Readers

How did you discover my blog?  What interests you?  Would you be willing to share your golf experience on Staying in the Short Grass?

It's All About Competition

I was talking recently with a friend who used to be an enthusiastic tennis player but who now doesn't play because her knees are worn out.  She confided that she misses tennis -- the competition of a match, the pleasure of playing with a friend, the exhilaration that follows the well-placed baseline drive -- but pain keeps her away from the game.

"Think about golf," I urged her.  "It's less stressful on our old joints."

Perhaps, in the long view, but golf-related injuries aren't limited to the tour players.  On some days the members of the Star Fort Ladies Golf Association resemble a troupe of walking wounded.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Celebrate Mom!

Mothers need to play.  Take your mom to the golf course today!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Playing Favorites

I love challenges of all kinds, and for me the game of golf provides endless challenges, both physical and mental.  I've been trying to straighten out a short 130 yard shot with a new hybrid for 3 months.  It's gone left, it's gone right, it's gone straight but failed to fly, over and over and over.  I've adjusted my grip.  I've altered my stance.  I even had Zach, our pro, put a little luminescent orange dot on the club head to help me maintain a consistent point of contact.   Today I pull the pesky little hybrid out of my bag, closed my eyes, and let my imagination fly the ball toward the left forward corner of the green, where I knew it would bounce right and roll to the cup.  I  finally got it and birdied the #4 par-3 at Star Fort.  If you hadn't been playing with me regularly and enduring my anguish and suffering of the past three months, the shot would have appeared effortless.  I gave that club an extra little pat when I stuck it back in my bag and hoped we could both remember how it happened.

I have favorite favorite holes -- I suppose every golfer does -- and like my favorite clubs and golf courses, are the ones that present the greatest challenges.  There's always at least one on every course I've ever played.  Currently, The Links at Bodega Harbor is my favorite course and the #5 par-5 is my favorite hole.

Wes introduced me to Bodega the summer he dragged me back onto the golf course.  Carved from the Pacific Coast cliffs about an hours north of San Francisco, the views are simply magnificent in every direction.  The wind always blows, some times fiercely.  In the late afternoon the fog routinely rolls up up from Bodega Harbor onto the 15th fairway and 2nd shots tend to dissolve into a murky vapor on their way to the green.  I always take a wool sweater vest, even in August.  Every hole challenges a mediocre golfer like me.  I never tire of this course.  It's always on my Must Play list when I go to the Bay Area.

The first time I faced the fifth hole I contemplated it with terror: 422 yards from the forward tees to the green, a double dogleg par five that tees off from the top of hill and requires a shot of about 125 yards to a small plateau.  From that plateau the fairway doglegs right, leaps over a cliff, and descends rapidly for about 200 yards, with extreme rough on the right and an out-of-bounds cow pasture on the left.  A properly hit 2nd shot should put you in good position to hit the green in regulation, if it weren't for the still descending and undulating fairway, and three very deep, evil bunkers that have snatched my errant shots more times than I care to admit.  Oh, and the green is large, and it has many deceptive breaks and rolls, so the problems don't end when you start putting.  The flyover will give you a sense of the challenges.

I played this hole twice a year for 5 years and many, many times in my dreams before I was able to put a 5 on my scorecard.  First I had to master my fear of the right rough and figure out which club would take me from the tee box to that little plateau.  The mental part was more difficult than making that shot. Then I had to accept the fact that I wasn't going to be able to watch my ball once I hit it over the cliff on my 2nd shot, but I had to hit the thing anyway.  Another mental hurdle.  Hit and hope.  Then I had to become willing to really bear down on my third shot and do my best to fly the ball over those nasty bunkers.

"Mom, the ball won't break. Just hit it," Wes coached.

And finally, I had to decide to make my first putt with firm authority in order to minimize the undulations and breaks on the green.  I had to become the master of that hole mentally, one shot at a time, before I could master it physically.

I don't always par the 5th hole at Bodega, but now I know that I can, and that knowledge is very empowering.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Back in the Game!

When I was in graduate school -- back when dinosaurs walked the earth -- my sons, Wes and Charlie, and I played golf every Sunday.  It was the cheapest thing I could find for us to do together -- fifty cents for the family (student ID required) to play 18 holes.  We all had clubs, we played with recycled water balls, and we walked.  Prairie dogs popped up here and there on the University of Oklahoma fairways when one of our balls disturbed them.  Wes, long, lean, naturally athletic even as a boy of 10, loved golf and over the course of my graduate studies he became a fairly proficient golfer.  Charlie did not love golf.  In fact, he hated playing golf every Sunday.  He did not become proficient and it's unlikely that he'll appear again in this blog except, perhaps, anecdotally.

When I finished graduate school and moved to South Carolina Wes and I continued to play golf, now at a local public course, The Golf Club at Star Fort, which remains my home course today.  We played together regularly and as I watched his drives soar past mine I discovered the exceptionally sweet joy embedded in mother-son golf.

Adolescence does strange things to the mother-son relationship and one day Wes broke my heart.  In a moment of utter defiance, a boy's action to claim his independence and autonomy, he tossed his golf clubs into the street and our rounds ended.  I put my clubs away and eventually sold them in a yard sale.  Wes was not my only golf partner, but golf had lost its joy for me.

Three decades passed and life went on.  I was getting ready for my annual trip to California to visit Wes and his family.  He called.  "Hey Mom," he chirped, "I hope you're ready to play some golf."  As though we had played our last round a week or so ago.   I hadn't played golf in 30 years, was 20 pounds overweight, hypertensive, and arthritic. Of course I was ready.

We played glorious golf.  I rented clubs and sacrificed all his water balls to those hidden places beyond the short grass.  We bought more balls and played another round, and another.  I came off the courses we played trembling with fatigue and fell into coma-like late afternoon naps.  I took so much ibuprofen I feared for the well-being of my liver.  And I remembered how much I love the game of golf.

"Are you going to pick up the game again when you get home?" he challenged me.  "You're a little rusty."

Of course I was.

"I'll buy you some clubs so I'll be sure you'll play.  You need practice."

I went home with a driver, a 5-wood and a hybrid.  I ordered irons.  Wes game me a discarded bag.  I bought shoes.  I signed up for lessons.  I was back in the game!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Just Close Your Eyes and Swing

I was so dismayed yesterday by my dismal drives and their incessant drifting to the right -- often far to the right -- that I appealed to my friend, Tony Schuster (the guy who taught me about Buzzard Shadows), who has the uncanny ability to look at my swing from across two fairways and give post-round corrective guidance.

Tony was going fishing today and wasn't available for a swing consult.  As an alternative, he emailed me a suggested a small drill:  "After you've warmed up on the range, put a tee down, close your eyes and swing at the tee.  You'll know internally what you're doing wrong."

So I tried it.  What did I have to lose?  I had completed my warm-up and was at the first tee with my play group.  We were all swinging our clubs and waiting from the foursome in front of us to clear the fairway, so I surreptitiously stuck a tee in the ground, lined up with my driver, closed my eyes, and took a swing.  I waited for a flash of insight.  It didn't come.  I waited for a golf epiphany.  It didn't come.  The group in front of us was making their approach shots.

I teed up my ball, stood behind it, envisioned my shot, picked my intermediate target, and let go.  The ball flew true!  It landed in the short grass, rolled forward, came to rest exactly where I'd planned.  Same results on the second tee, and even the third tee, where I always go right because both the tee box and the fairway have tricky slopes.  The round continued.  I didn't do anything spectacular, but I hit every fairway (par-3s excepted).

What an amazing drill.  Like many other "drills," I suspect the success of this one is more firmly rooted in my head than in my swing.  In other words, it's just a strategy to get me out of myself and chronic fear of failure into the round.  Just close your eyes and swing.  You'll know what you're doing wrong.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Perfect Shots, Not Perfect Rounds

I have a primal, near visceral response to a well-made golf shot.  I'm really not a very skilled golfer -- my handicap hovers in the mid-to-high 20s -- so I don't execute perfect shots very often.  Yesterday, during my regular Tuesday round with the Star Fort Ladies Golf Association, I had three perfect shots.  Breathtaking!

My first moment of pure golf joy came on an uncomplicated par-4 on the front 9, which I made far more difficult than it should have been with a miserable tee-shot.  The ball started well enough off the tee but veered off into the right rough (not following through again -- my recurring sin) where the ball nestled behind a small sapling, just daring me to try one of my trick shots to get back in the short grass.   So I grabbed my faithful get-out-of-jail-free hybrid and tried to angle around the sapling and get into the beloved short grass.  The shot was too strong.  Going in the intended direction (angling at about 45 degrees toward the green), my ball skimmed over the short grass and came to rest in the left rough, about 30 yards short of the green but with a straight path to the pin, bunkers safely right and left.  My faithful flop shot veered right (whoops -- not following through, again), heading for the bunker that had been well out of my path to the target when I stood behind the ball and envisioned the shot.  Fortunately, I mis-hit the ball and it came to rest on the putting fringe, just beside that threatening bunker.  Resigned to another bogie, hoping to get close enough for a tap-in, I lined up my putt (uphill, slight break to the left).  I like to envision my putter as a small paint brush, drawing a delicate stroke from my ball to the cup (thereby correcting my chronic follow-through issue); and so I set up the putt with my paint brush image, stroked the ball, and watched it begin its roll: over the bump from the fringe onto the green, across a small hill that would probably tilt it a bit left, up the hill and, to my complete astonishment, make a perfect left turn at exactly the right point on its track, and drop into the cup.   A breathtaking experience!

There was a long dry spell then of routine-to-slightly disappointing golf, until I teed off on the par-3 12th hole.  My shot went right (and we all know what's causing this issue) and came to rest on a steep hill, about 30 yards from the green, about 20 yards above the green, which was protected by a bunker that curls from front to back and just loves to snag my balls.  Time for the faithful flop shot.  Ball above my feet.  Adjust slightly to the left.  Execute the shot.  FOLLOW THROUGH!!!  Seemingly in slow motion, my beautiful, faithful, obedient ball soared upward, came to its apex, and dropped straight as an arrow toward the pin.    No roll.  How did I manage that?  Stick. Tap-in for par.  I was breathless!

Then, on the 18th hole, I had another moment of perfection.  My tee shot went right (no surprise there) and I faced another trick shot with my trusty hybrid, which send the ball down the hill, over a water drainage ditch hazard, underneath a thicket of low-handing branches dripping with leaves, and onto the short grass about 135 yards from an uphill green.  I am old. It was the end of the round. I was tired.  And so I decided to club up from my hybrid to my 5-wood.   Fairway sloping to the right.  Make a slight alignment adjustment to accommodate. Take away. Contact.  Follow through! My ball took off like a rocket, directly toward the pin, no drift to the right, hit the ground in front of the green, as planned, began its roll uphill, too much steam, passed the pin, climbed uphill crossing the green, and came to rest in the 2nd cut on the fringe.  I three-putted and ended the hole and the round with a double bogie, which did not tarnish the bright pleasure of that third shot.

I balanced out my round with a couple of breakdown holes -- triple and quadruple bogies -- and a fairly sickening 4-putt when I completely lost my focus, so my scorecard didn't reflect my triumphant perfect shots.  But if I'm going to enjoy my round I need to store and savor bright, clear moments such as these and let all those other flawed and failed efforts float off into the dark recesses of forgottenness.

"That's just golf," Pat McCutcheon reminds me.  "It's a humbling game."

Monday, May 6, 2013

Dirty Golf Tricks

My Aunt Mickey, who's in her mid-90s, was an avid golfer until a few years ago.  She and my Uncle Roland, very successful ranchers in Western Oklahoma, worked hard and played hard.  Most of what I know about living life with enthusiasm comes from Aunt Mickey, and her golfing tips are priceless for their imagery if not for their integrity.  (You need to know that Aunt Mickey taught me how to cheat at cards and board games as well as how to slaughter, pick, and fry a chicken, start to finish.)

Aunt Mickey's home course, Alva Golf and Country Club ( is carved out of a couple of pastures, with some interesting ditches and gullies and a fair amount of indigenous prairie brush creating some challenging situations for folks who just can't stay in the short grass.  There's not much sand -- well, it is western Oklahoma -- but there is a small pond or two until August, when just about everything but deep wells tends to dry up for a while.  But the club has a lively women's league and Aunt Mickey led the pack of ranchers and doctors' wives for three or four decades.

We were talking about my golf game during one of my annual visits with her -- I was approaching my 70th birthday.   Gearing up for some vicarious competition, she asked my about my index.  I told her.  She squinted her eyes, looked at me and asked, "Is that your index or your age?"  If it had been anybody else I would have shot back something equally sharp, but I know better when I get into one of those verbal sparring matches with Aunt Mickey.  I can't win.  So I just sucked it up and held my ground, about the best I could do under the circumstances.

"You need to get to work on your game," she continued.  "You don't have much time.  After 70, your index goes up 2 points for every birthday."  Encouraging.  Supportive.

And then, her advice on how to get the edge on the competition, drawn from her own personal repertoire of dirty golf tricks: "Just pick up two or three of those little grass snakes that hang out around the greens and the ponds and tuck them in an empty pocket in your golf bag.  When, when you've made your putt, slip one of those little snakes in the cup when you replace the flag.  They'll just curl up and sit there until the next foursome gets ready to putt and when they pull the flag the snake will peek up.  They'll all miss their putts and," now grinning broadly at her own memory, "you'll be able to hear their shrieks from the next fairway."

I confess, it's a rather delicious image.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Family Golf is Not USGA-Approved

With a huge wet blob of steady rain settled over the Carolinas, I'm reminded of one of my all-time favorite rounds of golf in the rain.  Although rainy golf rounds can rarely be described as fun, this particular round holds a special place in my memory, more for the people involved than for the shots executed or the scores posted.  

We were spending Thanksgiving in Novato, California with my son, Wes, his wife, Jane, and Jane's father Russ who, newly widowed and just discharged from his open-heart surgery rehab, was looking forward to his first golf round.  Wes and Jane's home course, Indian Valley, has a Thanksgiving Day tournament that's not to be missed.  It begins with a magnificent, near-lethal combination of triglycerides, sugar, and alcohol (optional) breakfast buffet designed to fortify the competing teams against all the environmental vagaries of rainy season golf in high holiday tradition.  Breakfast is not to be missed.

And so, properly nourished, our first round of Family Golf began, with two physically fit 40-somethings slogging along fairways slightly squishy from the steady drizzle, outfitted in California-trendy rain suits and contrasting color -- red and grey -- Seattle sombreros, and 3 seniors in carts: the non-golfing diabetic score keeper heavily wrapped in sweater, rain jacket, muffler and cap, the slightly overweight, hypertensive mom of the son -- that would be me -- and the recently re-plumbed father of the daughter -- that would be Russ -- both inadequately outfitted but gamely facing four hours of probable athletic humiliation.  The parents were playing as a team against the kids.  After the first hole, when Wes and Jane walked off the green with pars and Russ and I had a combined gross score of 12 on a par 4, we knew we had to find a way to level the playing field.  Our handicaps just weren't going to be enough.  Family Golf Rules began to evolve.

Rule #1: The Use of the Hand Wedge.  (We negotiated this one when Russ was unable to get out of a bunker and, after his fourth attempt, became dangerously flushed and had some difficulty breathing.)  When a golfer over the age of 65 is unable to execute a successful shot from a bunker, the ball may be removed using the hand wedge.  The penalty for the failed shot is removed.  It is permissible for the hand wedge shot to reach the green.

Rule #2: Relief from Uneven Lies in the Rough.  (We negotiated this one when I twisted my once-broken ankel while attempting to extricate my ball from the far side of a deep ditch while standing on a pile of unstable rocks.)  When a golfer over the age of 65 is unable to achieve stable footing, the ball may be placed in a more advantageous environment, no closer to the green, without penalty.  It is permissible to place the ball in the fairway.

These rules did not help us win, but they did keep us upright and able to complete the round in good spirits and without injury.  The kids won the round.  We all went home cold, wet, tired, hungry, and happy, tossed our wet clothes in a pile in the laundry room, propped out sodden club head covers on soda bottles in front of the fireplace, and took hot showers.  While the kids got the Thanksgiving meal organized the old people took naps.

We try to convene Family Golf Tournaments several times a year, and not everyone who participates in them plays golf.  Some ride and walk along, rather like our own congenial gallery, others choose only to putt.  Some take occasional detours, for snacks, to investigate an especially intriguing gecko or stare down a somnambulant alligator.  The Rules of Family Golf are flexible and constantly changing, designed to accommodate special interests and unique preferences.  Not bound by the USGA Rules of Golf, our version of Family Golf is inclusive, informed as much by our love of each other and the sheer pleasure of spending a few uninterrupted hours together as by our love of golf, even though we probably do have our detractors when we're on the course (the guys in the pro shop, the marshall, and sometimes the group behind us, whom we always invite to play on through.)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Into the Wild

In early May in South Carolina we expect to be basking in sunshine.  The azaleas and the dogwood trees have bloomed, The Masters has come and gone, signaling the beginning of the Southern golfing season, our fairways and greens are coming out of their dormant winter brown, and we expect to be sweating during the middle of our golf day.  I am not sweating.  I am still wearing my fleece vest.  My shoes are muddy, and there are places on the fairways at The Fort that are so squishy that we're getting free drops out of standing water.  Tomorrow morning there will be drizzle and by late afternoon the drizzle will become rain, again.

And when the weather warms, as it inevitably will, even just a little bit, all the noseeums and mosquitoes that are currently hiding will emerge from the soggy steaming ground and surround me every time I address my ball.  They will bite my ankles, fly into my eyes, nibble delicately on my ears.  The buzzard shadows are a minor nuisance compared to these tiny carnivores that rival the alligators at Wild Dunes, the rattlesnakes at Mare Island, and the mountain lions that prowl the rough at Indian Valley.

To the uninitiated, the game of golf is a terribly civilized sport played under highly controlled conditions.  But those of us who have braved the elements and faced the fauna know otherwise.  Golf is played in wide open spaces that we share with an incredible variety of winged, feathered, scaled, and pelted companions who, often only reluctantly, share their space with the humans who come and go from the golf course.

Despite the challenges, or perhaps because of them, I do enjoy spring golf.  There's a marvelous sense of unfolding rebirth -- the grass really does become greener, the ducklings are hatching and getting swimming lessons under the watchful protection of their adult guardians, the baby turtles are basking on the bank of the pond (and I confess that I have prayed on more than one occasion for one of those babies to block my ball's final roll into the pond).  And so I'll go forth, into the drizzle, swatting at the mosquitoes, and tee off tomorrow morning.  At least, because of the heavy cloud cover, I'm confident that I won't be distracted by the dratted buzzard shadows.