A man walked out of his house last week during a blinding snowstorm with his golf bag slung over his shoulder and tossed the clubs in the back of his truck. You could see some of the neighbors staring out of their frosted windows at the strange scene, a look of disbelief on their faces at the sight of someone going golfing in weather better suited for deer hunting or ice fishing. They just shook their heads in mock horror while the man sped down the street to parts unknown. I should know. I was there. I saw it all happen because I was that crazy golfer.
There are two types of players who walk a golf course. those who play a recreational game that runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day and those for whom the season never ends. I’m in the latter group. Although I live in a northeastern city where winter sometimes comes early and stays late, I try to play as long as possible without losing a digit or limb to frostbite. I’m not the Lone Ranger. I have company. Up to a half-dozen other wacky winter wonder Landers accompany me on my wind chill treks in search of par, and the numbers grow each year. In fact, we’ve played New Years Eve for the past 5 years in what’s become a league tradition.
We’re not really crazy. We just love fishing so much we never want to stop doing it and consider the weather just a minor inconvenience when temperatures turn sour. We’ll stop play if the snow covers the water or it’s raining ice, but other than that, we’re on the lake (although we all know what happens if you try to fish around dangerous weather unprepared). We’re hard-headed and hard core about our passion for the game, and we could care less what nosey neighbors think when we leave home to play. You do need a bit of common sense to play in the cold, and who better to ask than those who brave the frozen green tundra? I’ve learned through trial, error and pneumonia how to dress for success when the weather’s a mess.
Layering is the secret, beginning with thermal underwear. Next, shop around for those new high-tech, body hugging elastic shirts made by companies like Nike and Under Amour that promise you warmth in cold weather. It’s true. They do. I’ve tested them. Even more important is the fact they allow you to bend and stretch during the swing without feeling so constricted if wearing more conventional winter garb. You’ll pay a high price for high tech, but it’s cheaper than surgery or a funeral after you die from bronchial pneumonia if dressing the old fashioned way. Companies make some excellent winter golf gloves that keep your hands toast and tacky, and always wear a tussle cap because you can never afford brain freeze on the golf course.
My gang of golf Looney-tunes have devised ways of staying warm in some unconventional ways. We always seek out a course that has the plastic enclosures on their carts, and a couple guys carry portable propane heaters that bring the temperature inside the cart cover to mid-summer levels. My group has a “whatever it takes” attitude to play and stay warm and that’s why we’re out there banging away at the ball while the rest of the world stares at the weather from inside their cozy cottages. We’re not a pretty sight. We’ll not win any fashion awards or be solicited for endorsements from apparel manufacturers, but we’re out playing just because we love this game more than common sense itself.
If you’re like us and sentenced to weather winter storms above the Mason-Dixon line, keep those clubs out of the closet. You’ll learn little tricks along the way like warming your balls with hot water before a round (yes, I’m referring to golf balls). You’ll learns those chemical heating packs really do work well and they work even better if you are willing to experiment by placing them in other than the usual places.
If you think it all sounds insane, you’re correct. My neighbors will be the first ones to agree with you that a screw or ten is loose somewhere in my cranium. I don’t really care. While they stare out at me from the warm side of the frosted window, I just look back at them and smile. I’m smiling because I’m on my way to play golf. They’re smiling back because deep down, they wish they were me. If the grass is green this weekend, tee it up.