The Commons

Stocking up for winter

It's not premature for reflection about the golf season just past

Tom Bedell has more on beer (and golf) at his website.

Originally published in The Commons issue #181 (Wednesday, December 5, 2012).

WILLIAMSVILLE—Some golfers let the season go readily. Others move south to avoid the problem. Those of us who winter on here eventually have to admit that golf is finished until the spring thaw. Eventually.

The first of December revealed the first semi-serious blanket of snow on the ground. But with reports calling for temperatures over 50 by mid-week, the golf clubs remained in the car trunk, delaying the fatal move to the garage.

Still, it’s not premature for reflection about the season past and, with Thanksgiving’s vapors still about, potential gratitude. Surely there was something in the year’s rounds gone by that will buoy us through the holiday frenzy, warm us in January’s chill, sustain us in February’s gloom, and have us chomping at the bit when cabin fever breaks out in March.

It may all be illusion, but that’s nothing new for the golfing tribe, which thrives on false hope: that new swing thought that was leading to crisp iron shots in the fall, the way the putts seemed to be dropping more often, the vanquished chili dip, the banished slice. Yes, they seem to say, next year is the year.

And sometimes it is. It was for my brother this year; he had his second and third ace. And it was for me, too. So for starters I’m grateful to orthopedic surgeon Jonathan Thatcher, who operated on the leaky discs that scuttled much of the 2011 season for me.

A series of cortisone shots kept me playing for a while, but by the time I went under the knife in late February I was pretty much an invalid, much less a golfer.

Barely more than a month later I was swinging the clubs again, heading down to Pinehurst with the MOTO Research Team. The swing may have been a little shaky, but I carted it around to 11 states and four different countries this year.

Slowly, things came around. While always capable of a terrible round, for a mid-handicapper I began to have some pretty good ones.

In my many years of play, I had never broken 80, and I was beginning to think it never would happen — not getting any younger and all that. And when I played a handful of rounds with opening nine 39s, only to implode on the inbound side, it began to seem even more unlikely.

But then it happened. And I wasn’t even playing with the MOTO Research Team. Richard Davis and I had been trying to arrange a round together, and we finally found an early September date at the Brattleboro Country Club.

We were paired up with Tony DeFrancesco from Winhall, who had stopped in for a round after doing some business to the south. Off we went, and starting with an opening birdie it all went my way. I finished 39-39 for a 78, and felt positively blissful.

It was a little like the first time I hit one over the fence in a softball game. A little surprising, but immensely pleasing. Simply, the feeling of not knowing whether you have it in you, and then you find out you do.

There were a few things about the round that seem worth noting:

Everything was going pretty well.

Nothing went terribly wrong.

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