Here I sit, 6:00am CDT. My tee time at Lake of the Woods Golf Course isn’t until 9:30, but I’m too excited to sleep. The projected high today is 61 degrees, but here’s frost on the ground right now here in Champaign Co., Illinois. At 9:30, it’ll probably only be in the low 40s (if we’re lucky).
Do I expect a career low round? Certainly not. Hell, I’m hoping just to get a few drives in the fairway and maybe make a couple putts beyond gimme range. Based on my recent swings on the clubhouse golf simulator, my hook might be threatening a vindictive return, so we’ll see.
But I have stacks of clubs to test, and once I get somewhat back into the groove, keep an eye out for dozens of equipment reviews.
It is not the new clubs I cannot wait for, though. Nor the traditional beer at the turn. Nor the ever-present possibility of a hole-in-one or the occasional 300-yard drive.
Instead, my mind wanders ahead into early summer, Men’s Association on Wednesday evenings, and 6:00am rounds on the weekends with the usual cast of fellow dewsweepers. Of course, I won’t be stretched out sufficiently, but neither will any of my playing buddies. We’re all in the same rickety, middle-aged boat, and without golf, none of us would ever have met.
True friends are not easy to come by, and by the time one is well on the way to one’s dotage, new friends are more rare than a birdie on a 230-yard par-3. Golf provides one – maybe the only – venue in which these friendships can be forged. Spend four hours with someone, and you can suss the stuff of friendship.
The ribbing, the jokes, the expressions of true concern about each other’s family and work and game – these are the things that I look forward to as the days gradually lengthen and our scores gradually lower. Though, really, the scores are secondary to the camaraderie. We may be gray and paunchy, but for those hours on the course, we’re kids again, playing a silly game that, for a few brief, shining moments, is the center of our shared universe and, for perhaps the rest of our lives, our mutual friendship.
“How’s work going?”
“Not bad. Finished a big project last week. How are the wife and kids?”
“Everyone’s great, thanks. We’re all pretty happy that Springs’s finally here.”