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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Rain, Rain, and More Rain!

Golf in the rain is no fun.  Or is it?  There's something very primal about staying on the course and finishing a round after the rain starts.  Rain adds another element to the challenge of the course.   It strengthens your golf mojo.  Fairway roll is nonexistent.  Bunkers demand a different, more delicate touch.  Greens slow and balls act as though they're coated with molasses.  Mere mortals depart the course and take refuge in the clubhouse.  Golfers play on!

I have a full range of rain-related outerwear crammed into my bag: pants, jacket, rain shirt, vest, 2 kinds of caps, gloves.  I barely have room for the little bottle of aspirin I carry for when one of us starts having chest pains in the middle of a round.  I've acquired each item, one at a time, after I needed it.

The rain gloves came first.  I was playing a friendly round with the Star Fort Ladies Golf Association the spring after Wes lured me back to the game and Teenie badgered me into joining the ladies association and playing with them.  The day was overcast and muggy, and we all knew rain was inevitable.  I assumed it would hold off until mid-afternoon, when I'd be safely off the course.  It didn't.

The rain that day wasn't especially heavy, more like a light mist that coated everything, including my hands, with a light film of water.  It wasn't especially unpleasant, until my club slipped out of my hands right in the middle of a delicate chip onto the green.  I looked around.  Nobody else in my foursome seemed to be having any difficulty holding on to their clubs.  I look closer.  The other 3 were wearing TWO gloves.  They hadn't started with 2 gloves.  I asked.

"Rain gloves," Alma explained.  Rain gloves?  "They keep your club from slipping when the grip get wet."  Rain gloves?  "You can get some in the pro shop," she continued, then returned her attention to her game.

I got a pair of rain gloves at the turn.  I also learned that day to carry a little towel so I can dry my grip in wet conditions before I take my shot.

Next came the rain shirt with 3/4 sleeves.  That fall I was playing for the first time in the annual local Rally for the Cure tournament.  Rain was forecast.  I checked to make sure I had my rain gloves in my bag.  (Over the years that I've been playing golf, I've been endlessly amazed at how an item I think I have in my bag isn't there when I need it.  I've learned to do a regular content inventory now when the seasons change.)  The rain arrived when my foursome was on the 8th hole.  I pulled out my rain gloves.  Everybody else pulled out their rain gloves, a rain jacket, and a waterproof hat.

By the time we made the turn I was thoroughly drenched.  Fortunately, October in South Carolina isn't particularly cold.  We were playing in shorts and short-sleeved shirts.  So I wasn't faced with hypothermia.  (That would come later.)  I made a pass through the pro shop and bought a dry shirt and a rain shirt with 3/4 sleeves.  I wasn't ready yet to relinquish my lucky Edisto Beach ball cap in favor of a rain hat.  One doesn't abandon one's lucky cap capriciously.  (That would come later, too).

I managed to avoid the full rain suit for several years, although it wasn't because I didn't (and don't) need the full suit from time-to-time.  I didn't want the kind that I saw women wear -- pastel, patterned jackets, solid-colored, matching pants.  Cute outfits, but that style doesn't suit me.  It was a fashion issue, not an equipment issue.  But a couple of years ago I was watching the Ryder Cup and really liked the look of the team rain gear.  So I asked my then daughter-in-law, Jane (who is still my golf equipment shopping diva) to help me locate and purchase rain pants and a jacket exactly like the Ryder Cup team's.  She did.  It took about an hour using Google to navigate from the living room to the closest retail golf equipment store in the San Francisco Bay Area!  We did this after the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Shoot when everything including my red parrot head cover was soaked as the result of 4 hours of golf in a downpour.

Then there's the rain hat.  I've actually had several.  I tend to lose them between rounds in the rain.  In fact, the only golf cap I haven't lost or misplaced for a significant period of time is my lucky Edisto Beach ball cap.  I was playing in my first South Carolina Women's Golf Association tournament last fall, at Woodfin Ridge Golf Club, a course I find a bit challenging but enormous fun to play.  The rain began.  I had my rain gloves and my rain suit and was wearing my lucky Edisto Beach ball cap.  I was set.  But the carts didn't have those handy little golf bag awnings and my towel got very wet.  In fact, it was dripping excess water.  I really needed a dry towel.  So I dashed into the pro shop at the turn and bought one (which has now joined the massive collection of golf towels I've accumulated over time).  As I was paying for the towel I noticed a black rain cap on the counter, and I pushed onto the towel.

"I'll take the cap too," I said, admitting that my cold, wet head of hair really wasn't very comfortable and my lucky cap wasn't doing its job, anyway.

"Somebody found it and brought it in.  It's not for sale."

"It's mine, then," I declared, and put it on my head.

The LPGA Tour players who are confronting the vagaries of golf+rain at the Wegmans Tournament this weekend have nothing on me.  I, too, have struggled through golf in the rain, watched my putts raise rooster tails as they made their way across the green, dropped out of standing water, repeatedly and futilely toweled my grips and my ball, and wiped mud from my face and my knees.

Play on!