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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.