Sunday, March 18, 2012

A season starts -- with a birdie

   Having covered my last college basketball game for the season, my last NASCAR race until May and having endured all the winter we didn't have during my three-day stay in Portland, Ore., last week, golf season has arrived.
   At least my personal golf season.

   I understand there are few things more nap-inducing than hearing someone go on about what they did or didn't do on the golf course but one of the original rules of the game commands that 'A player may only  offer personal commentary on his (or her) round of golf if said player is willing to listen in equal measure to another player's story.'

   That's why beer and dry roasted peanuts were invented.

  It's not as if Saturday was the first time I'd played golf this year but it had been a while and it was the first time in a while that it hadn't required layered clothing. To acquire a golfer's tan, one must be in the sunshine which explains why my legs were the color of out of bounds stakes, a condition I hope soon passes.

   Warm enough to send a trickle of sweat down your cheek, it was a beautiful early spring day. The bermuda grass fairways were already turning green even before the first full weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament was complete, another suggestion the global warming believers are on to something. Pretty soon, they'll have mowers on them again, tractors having gone dormant with the bermuda for months.

   One of the cruel realities of springtime golf here is that just when everyone wants to enjoy the game and the weather again, they aerate the greens. That means for a couple of weeks-- or longer if they're slow to heal -- we're forced to putt on nature's shag carpet, pock-marked by a million little holes and frosted by a coating of sand. Like a teenager at the beach.

   There is a good side to putting on aerated greens. It takes the pressure off. It can't be your fault you missed again from four feet. Look what you were putting through. It's like putting through a potato field.

   And still, I hit my opening tee past the three teenagers in my group, each of whom has college golf in their future. Then I floated my wedge shot inside their three approach shots.

   After they had missed their birdie putts, I knocked in my four-footer for three. Not a bad way to start.

   I'd go on but that would require beer and peanuts -- and listening to how you played. We'll get to that later.