There is something so wonderful about stepping out on the links for the first time each year. The protracted layoff caused by winter and a little mishap with gravity caused my first round to come on Memorial Day this year instead of early April. But finally the cast was removed, the ok given by my doctor, a fair golfer himself and certainly one to know the curative powers of spring, so the tee time was booked. Two long time partners and a new one were on tap for this first round and the usual wagers were bandied about. Playing early with the dew still on the grass, the gnats buzzing, the joints as stiff as possible, our foursome bravely walked to the first tee. We were stubbornly going to walk our 18 in the muggy morning. Now this course is not long and not particularly challenging either, so it would serve to be an adequate test after nearly 9 months off. We are playing partner best score, match play for lunch. Big stakes!
My first hole was a dogleg left at only 330 yards. A crisp 3 wood to the dogleg, followed by a pitching wedge deep in the green. A two putt par. Great start, we are one up. Look at the geese herding their goslings. So quiet here this morning.
Number two, however, was not so kind. An ugly pull hook into an unplayable lie. Stopped the body and swung with my arms. Made a mess of the easy par five, but salvaged a bogey with a 12 foot putt up the hill. A push, no blood. The lavender is in full bloom and it is so wonderful to smell, I don't remember the long walk to the next tee.
A long par four, my first driver. Whoa! What happened there! Right down the middle. A shot into the middle of the green and another boring 2 putt. 90% of putts left short never go in, right? Two up
Number four, a delicate short three par. I hit the big ball before the little ball (Earth). A rusty bogey. We give one back. The maples are dropping their helicopter seeds in the light breeze, they twirl gently to the ground with the slim hope of finding purchase in some perfect soil the course superintendent doesn't notice.
Another par at five, another putt left short. The deer acknowledged my effort but were not impressed, back to munching in the adjacent field. I dislike arrogant herbivores don't you? Thanks to the poor play of our opponents we are back up two.
Number 6, another par five, played conventionally. Tee shot into left rough. Iron into right rough. Deep into the green, but the birdie burned the edge. Got that one to the hole, at least. The fish in the pond splashed his good morning as we walked back across the bridge. The bullfrog gallery gave a smattering of cheers. No blood again, still up two.
Number seven saw another straight drive. Maybe I need to be in a cast more often? Uh oh, caught that one thin. As in hit it in the mouth about the equator. Over the green, an ugly double bogey from 125 yards. Maybe I need my head in a cast. I could be afraid to take a divot with the newly mended arm - but who needs an excuse, not me. Up one again.
A nice par three on eight and nine and we close the front one up. I shoot +4. Simple game.
On toward the back nine. A pulled tee shot. A shut face 7 iron hooked around a tree that runs onto the green. Par and again we are two up.
A poor tee shot on the par 5 eleventh into the right hand trees. A chopped out 3-wood with a slice and I am 180 out. Bear down and make a good swing. You got this girl. A solid 5 wood into the heart of the green, a lip out. We are three up. I hear some chatter among the men folk. Tune it out and step on their .....
My partner knocks it stiff on twelve and we are four up. A big snapping turtle is sunning himself on the cart path. He winks at me. He knows that spring is magical.
My turn, I hit a solid 8 iron to 10 feet and sink my first birdie of the season. We are five up and dormie. I love saying "We are dormie." Has a nice ring to it. More lavender, simply enchanting. The wind even blows the gnats away.
We push fourteen for a 5 and 4 victory. The lambs to the wolf. I know where we are going for lunch. I got pretty tired over the last five holes and bogeyed 4 of 5 for a 79 and +7. Not a great round, something to build on. But it was oh so special in so many ways. My first round of the season. My first round after a broken arm. My first round after breast cancer. My first round with my new special friend. Most of all it cured my spirit of a longing to be out there in the green grass among the flora and fauna. I think I smelled every flower along the way. Heard every sound. And I did not say a single bad word all day! Though that bladed shot on seven tested my willpower.
I think it was Bobby Jones who said, " Take the time to smell the flowers on the course of life, because you only get one round."
I agree. Today will be memorable for me.
This blog is in honor of our brave servicemen and women...I hope you played this round in your minds as you read it and it helps you through your day until you can tee it up in the future.