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Andy Juniper Headshot

When Spring Puts Your Golf Game On Ice

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I'm scheduled to golf tomorrow. First round of the season. So, you may want to put your snow tires back on.

Seriously: the last time I was set to dust off and break out the clubs for the first time this season, we had a regular wrath-of-god ice storm -- in mid-April, no less! -- that lasted two days, knocked out our power for 12 hours, felled a handful of trees on our property, and left me playing pioneer (desperately barbecuing water to make coffee, for instance) instead of golf. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "the nastiest winter I ever spent was the spring of 2013 in Southern Ontario."

Yeah, it's been a miserable, dispiriting spring that's postponed the opening of the golf season for all but the fanatics. Fanatics? You know, the guys who regularly play in gale-force winds, horizontal rains and icy temps while the rest of us are hunkering down at home hoping the house doesn't blow away.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a big baby, or even a certified fairweather flogger -- I've golfed in my fair share of inclement weather -- but for me to even consider unleashing all of my considerable inabilities on an unsuspecting course, two conditions must be met: it has to be warm enough outside so that I can actually feel my hands (and consequently, the clubs). And the meteorological conditions must exist to make it at least possible for me to play above my natural abilities and card a decent round. I refuse to go out there and have my opening shot blow back in my face.

Oh, and if I could add a third condition: I have to be able to actually see my ball. This, as opposed to the fanatics who think nothing of playing out the back nine long after darkness has fallen.

Part of what's making this spring so particularly miserable is that it follows a nastier-than-normal winter, or what George Harrison would call "a long, cold, lonely winter." Which made the hibernating golfer feel like he or she was owed something. Like an early, temperate spring. But this winter was not only harsh, it also had legs.

Further, it's been irresistibly tempting to compare this spring to last. Which we now know was a nutty anomaly, not the new norm. And which spoiled us rotten. Out golfing in mid-March. In T-shirts and shorts. Working up a sweat and a thirst. And worrying about sunscreen strength -- as opposed to the possibility of windburn. Or frostbite. How nutty was the anomaly that was last spring, wherein we tasted full-blown summer before the Ides of March? It actually got people cheering against Al Gore, and for (fore!) Global Warming!

Finally, you have to consider why people golf. As an excuse to get outside in the sunlight and fresh air. For exercise (if they forego the cart). For camaraderie (chewing the fat, having a few laughs and solving all the world's problems over a beer at the 19th hole). And for escape -- a few hours existing outside the realm of the real world, forgetting life's trials and tribulations and, instead, goofing on friends, plotting shots, trying to execute strategies and getting wholly absorbed in a game.

It's been one of those dark, disturbing springs wherein the need for escape has been enormous. The idiotic weather. Assorted natural disasters. Avian flu outbreaks. Bombs in Boston. Terror plots in our home and native land. Escape has rarely seemed this appealing -- this essential.

I'm scheduled to golf tomorrow. First round of the season. Be prepared: you may need an umbrella. Or, if history repeats, you may have to skate to work. Around fallen trees and downed hydro wires. In this, the spring of 2013, it's all just par for the course.

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