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Sunday, July 7, 2013

It's Still Raining, Again

Coming home from supper Friday night, during a rare pause in the endless rain that's been going on now for almost 2 weeks, I looked up into a near-perfect, cloudless, early evening sky and thought, If we can get through the night without rain, I can play golf tomorrow.  

Then the sky opened up and the rain came pelting down on me.  How can it be raining when there are no clouds above me?


South Carolina, or at least the part of the state where I live, has been trapped for a couple of weeks between a Jet Stream that's gotten immobilized to the northwest and a large, unmoving low pressure cell hovering over the Caribbean to the south.   The result has been endless daily rain.  Not the gentle kind that makes flowers smile and tomato plants produce great big red juicy fruit, but the kind that pelts the ground for an hour or so and leaves large pools of soggy, sloppy turf floating in an inch of swamp-like standing water that just can't be absorbed.  Between these deluges, when the sun makes a brief appearance, as it does every day, sometimes several times a day, between thunderstorms, steam rises from the swamp.

The conditions for golf are less than ideal, but 8 of us -- driven to the edge of lunacy by the rain and suffering from that malaise only those who truly love the game of golf and are unable to maintain our established golf schedule -- met for our regular Saturday round.

Cart path only -- no surprises there.  Yes, we're playing lift, clean, and place, we all agreed.  What we didn't take into account as we were putting ourselves into 2 foursomes, a delicate process at best that requires an equation that balances ongoing personality abrasions, current personal issues, and current preferences for avoidance and contact, was that finding a place to place was going to be an 18-hole challenge.  Well, really a 14-hole challenge.  The par-3s weren't so problematic.

Barb said she knew we were in trouble on the 1st fairway, when she found her foot completely submerged in water as she was trying to place her ball after she had lifted and cleaned it.  Barb was right.

I hit a very nice drive on the 2nd hole even though it didn't get as far down the fairway as I'd have liked.   How could it?   Golf balls just don't roll through water.   Still, trying to stay grateful for what I had, I decided liked the placement and was setting up for my 2nd shot.  Just one little practice swing to get the rhythm.  My club skimmed the grass, exactly right, and brought up a spray of muddy water that left me covered with brown polka dots on my white shorts and yellow shirt.  Lovely.  I didn't even leave a divot.  How can that happen?

By the 4th hole most of us had more or less given up trying to stay mud-free, although Alma managed to get through the entire round without once spattering herself.  I don't know how she did it, but she also manages to finish round in August looking like she just stepped out of a beauty shop.

I, on the other hand, looked like I'd been dragged behind the cart.

The bright side: all of us spent less time in the rough!  The balls weren't rolling, so they couldn't get into trouble.  Did that improve our scores?  Certainly not.  The balls weren't rolling, so they couldn't get on down the fairway.

Then there were the greens: I do believe the grounds crew sneaked out and sprayed velcro on them early Saturday morning.  I watched a putt that under dry conditions would have rolled nicely uphill and into the cup on the 4th hole, creep forward, on line, and drag to a stop about half-way to its destination. I saw breaks that didn't happen.  By the 5th hole I'd adjusted and was back to 2-putts, but I felt like I needed to start putting with my 3-wood.

Another bright side: soggy greens let me be more aggressive.  I love being aggressive!

Our scores, of course, crept up, and up, and up.  There were few birdies.  Those who usually shot par were carding bogeys.  Those who play bogey golf were accepting doubles.  Those who are grateful for doubles had stopped groaning about 7s and 8s.

We endured two or three rain events during the round, wiping our grips, changing gloves, digging around for yet one more dry towel to clean balls and club faces.  No rain gear -- it was entirely too hot to encase ourselves in waterproof jackets and pants, so we just played on, water dripping off the bills of our caps (except for Alma and Betty, who both carry those little accordion-folding plastic rain hats for such moments), and waited for the rain to pass, the sun to appear again, and the steam to rise.

Were we miserable?  Absolutely not!  We were relieved, relaxed, restored to sanity.  Did we complain?  No!  (Well, Barb did complain about her wet foot, several times.)  We relived our great shots and our small victories over the conditions and the course while we settled our wagers.  That's what we golfers do.

Whether we're playing at The Greenbriar or at Star Fort, when we are at our best we take on the course as we find it, play the very best game we have that day,  relish our moments of mastery, reflect on and learn from our mistakes, and rest up for the next round.