Seasons change. People change. I'm a weekender now. Now that cold weather has arrived, the pecking order has shifted, the weekend has become safe again and I am venturing out to the course these days with impunity.
Unlike at this time last year the tee-time deals lately are nothing to get excited about. But golf doesn't just cost money--it costs time, and lately the golf-per-time rates are unbelievable. They say time is money so in this aspect, golf represents a tremendous bargain right now. I am averaging about 2.5 hours per 18 holes--that's a savings of 44% from the time-cost of a regular season round. Folks, these are like, wholesale prices.
First day, Staten Island, "Black" Friday. Below 40º at the start, with windchills taking it down below 30. This is pushing the limits of sensibility. I can admit that. But the course looks to be in fine enough shape and with a flask full of piping hot tea, I think I am ready.
The Silver Lake GC parking lot. These people probably have not read my winter golf layering tips.
It was one of those days, in which the only way to find your ball is to drive well past it, turn your back to the glare of the low winter sun and then look for it.
The only lost ball of the day happened right here in the middle of the 13th fairway. Bummer. It might be the first non-errant shot that I've lost to leaf piles so far this year. I put the pedal to the floor and drove the cart straight through the piles hoping to scatter them all about, but it didn't work.
Another close call. I even watched this one finish rolling, and still needed some luck to find it. These are perilous times for golf balls, and will continue to be for a few more weeks.
Nearly lost another ball, this time actually on the surface of the 18th green. I managed to break bogey today--by one shot. Putting continues to struggle in these conditions: quick greens and cold hands. But it was a good day, some good full shots were hit and I'm glad I dared to leave my front door today.
I am getting bored with stat-keeping lately so I am going to do something crazy with my scores and enter them all for handicap calculation. (I'm up to 11.9) Offseason, pffft. All the local golf associations in the Northeast say it's the offseason. But shit, I am a member of no club, don't use a handicap for anything other than my own interest, so why bother following the rules and guidelines of the Man? Screw it--I'll continue entering scores. I want to see how low I can get the number during the winter. What you gonna do, some of us are extreme thrill seekers. Some run 100km ultra-marathons, some people ski down avalanches; I maintain a handicap index during the winter. Anyways the turf conditions here are still fine and dandy--you can still play a fair and square golf.
|Time to install the Christmas lights.
The banquet tent has finally been deconstructed, which marks the official end of company/charity/shits&giggles outing season.
It is so dead calm and quiet out here. Can't even remember the last time the air was as still as it is today. The thermometer won't even get close to 40, and I'm even seeing a few snowflakes, but here under cloudy blanket, it doesn't feel cold at all. In fact it is a downright perfect golf day.
Yet, it's all mine. I spied a single a couple holes ahead, but he was playing so fast I couldn't keep up. Today I'll see a total of maybe ten people on the course. Unbelievable. Because it is perfect out here. So many people, missing out. Today, the weather-resistant bird catches the worm.
On the 2nd hole, a 200+ yard par 3 with the tees set all the way back I managed to hit a towering 3-iron all over the flag. (The flushed 3-iron, the mother of all iron shots, really.) It landed softly on the middle of the green. Whatever horrible stuff might befall my scorecard from here, this brief moment alone makes the whole damned trip worthwhile.
After some tense grinding at the start, I finished off the front nine with a bit of a thrill, back-to-back birdies set up by a couple of accurate 7-irons, and make the turn at one over par. Damnit--this has to be the best time I've had all year playing golf in NYC.
Yet the margin between good and bad play is always thin. When you play well, maybe you don't notice just how thin. Having shot my best nine hole score of the year on the front nine, I charged into the back nine with all kinds of momentum. But then I tripped over that margin, made a a quick triple and hopped on the bogey train for a while. I steadied a bit towards the end, but too little too late. 37 on the front was followed up with 45.
No matter. Still the best damn time I've had playing golf in the city in many months, all year probably. The course was deserted, hardly a breath of wind, the grass is still green and the putts are rolling mostly true. What more could you ask for, for God's sake.