Published on February 17th, 2014 | by David Sitrick
Holed Up Until I Can Play Some Holes
February, in my experience, always seems to be the hardest month to be a Minnesota golfer.
November brings with it an anxiety akin to the lowest-possible-stakes horror movie, threatened always with the uncertain possibility of the year’s final trip around the course. However, one at least has the option to brave the cold as often as one can bear, stubbornly refusing to pack away the sticks and abandon hope of one last memorable round.
February offers a frustratingly reduced array of options. The drear of winter has lumbered on, seemingly interminable. The inevitable stretch of double-digit negative temperatures and snow-covered everything causing your average Twin Cities denizen to doubt if he might ever see 70 degrees again.
Maybe the holiday season was kind to you, and you have a new driver or iron set waiting patiently in a corner somewhere, practically begging for fresh-cut grass and a bucket of range balls.
Maybe you’ve made a swing change, your hard work and devoted practice finally clicking in late October, and you’re dying for April and the chance to attack your handicap with new-found vigor.
Maybe you just miss the peace and quiet of an empty course on a warm summer’s evening, the sight of a well-struck shot streaking across a fire-orange sky quietly beautiful in a way that nothing else can manage.
The winter doldrums are inevitable, at least for me. I feel a palpable sense of loss and frustration when I can’t play; the days slog by, the months drag on seemingly forever.
There are ways to mitigate winter’s glacial pace, of course. The return of the Braemar Golf Dome in Edina this season has been a blessing, joining domes in Burnsville, Maplewood, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. There are a host of options for simulated play, allowing golfers to use their own clubs to simulate virtual renditions of famous courses around the world.
Some ranges (including Country Air Golf Park in Woodbury and The Golf Zone in Chaska) simply defy Father Winter, cranking up stall heaters and inviting the bravest among us to blast drives into the frigid snowscape. All of these are valuable resources in the fight against winter’s creeping golfing cabin fever. But there’s no substitute for the real thing.
As Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow and invites us to six more weary weeks of winter, I can’t help getting anxious for the snow to melt and grass to grow. Soon will arrive those first few days where 40 degrees feels like 70, and the promise of a new season and all of its inevitable challenges and triumphs — the $5 Nassaus traded back and forth. Or there’s the hot-handed putting day where you flirt with breaking eighty, the satisfied silence of your smack-talking buddy who can’t believe the ludicrous up and down you just made – everything wonderful about this game we play.
Hurry up, spring. We’re waiting.