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.
This April 10, 2005, file photo shows Tiger Woods, left, getting the Green Jacket from Phil Mickelson, right, after winning the 2005 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
Phil Mickelson of the US receives the green jacket from 2003 Champion Mike Weir of Canada at the awards ceremony after Mickelson made the birdie putt the 18th green during the final round of the Masters Golf Tournament 11 April 2004 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA.
Bubba Watson celebrates in his green jacket with Charl Schwartzel during The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.
Arnold Palmer, right, slips into his green jacket with help from Jack Nicklaus after winning his fourth Masters golf championship on April 12, 1964.
Nick Faldo of England receives the green jacket for winning the 1996 Masters from 1995 winner Ben Crenshaw 14 April at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
Jack Nicklaus of the USA celebrates on the 18th green of the Augusta National after being presented with the green jacket for winning the 1986 US Masters championship.
Jose Maria Olazabal, right, from Spain, gets his Masters Green Jacket from Mark O'Meara, left, after his win at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., Sunday, April 11, 1999.
Tom Watson, left, 1977 Masters Champion, places the green jacket on Gary Player, 1978 champion, at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Ga., in this April 9, 1978 file photo.
Mark O'Meara of USA with the green jacket and trophy after the final round of the Masters, held at The Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 1998 in Augusta, GA.
Phil Mickelson presents Charl Schwartzel of South Africa the winner's jacket at the green jacket presentation after Schwartzel's two-stroke victory at the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.
In this April 12, 1992, file photo, Fred Couples gives the thumbs-up after getting his traditional green jacket after winning the 1992 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
Tom Watson, winner of the Masters Golf Tournament, receives the traditional green coat from last year's champion Ray Floyd at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., April 10, 1977.
Masters champion Ben Crenshaw waves after receiving his Green Jacket from last year's champion Jose Maria Olazabal at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., Sunday, April 9, 1995.
Germany's Bernhard Langer celebrates his 1993 Masters Tournament win Sunday, April 11, 1993 after getting his Green Jacket at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
Angel Cabrera of Argentina celebrates during the green jacket presentation after defeating Kenny Perry on the second sudden death playoff hole to win the 2009 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2009 in Augusta, Georgia.
This April 13, 1980, file photo shows Seve Ballesteros, of Spain, left, being helped with his Masters green jacket by last year's winner, Fuzzy Zoeller, right, after winning the 1980 Masters, in Augusta, Ga.
Jack Nicklaus presents Larry Mize of the USA with his green jacket after the thrilling US Masters 1987 second play-off hole held at the Augusta National Golf Course, in Augusta, Georgia.
Zach Johnson presents the green jacket to Trevor Immelman of South Africa after Immelman's three-stroke victory at the 2008 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 13, 2008 in Augusta, Georgia.
Mike Weir of Canada wears the green jacket after winning the play off after the final round of the 2003 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia on April 13, 2003.
Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain helps 2000 Champion Vijay Singh of Fiji into the green jacket after Singh won the Masters Golf Tournament 09 April, 2000 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA.
Ian Woosnam puts on the green jacket after the US Open golf championship at Augusta.
Sandy Lyle of Scotland is presented with the green jacket by Larry Mize of USA after the final round of the Masters, held at The Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 1988 in Augusta, GA.
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