A Fall Afternoon Recalls The Essence of the Game
November in the Northeastern United States is often chilly, with a hint of winter in the air. Hardly ideal conditions for golf. But one Sunday morning, with mild weather in the forecast, a good friend and I decided to partake in one last round of golf before putting our clubs away for the winter.
A lot of other people had the same idea. We set out with a destination in mind, but no firm tee time. By early afternoon, after a wrong turn or two, we had been on the road for an hour and our options were few, because of the early sunset, (around 5 p.m. local time). We wound up at the Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) Golf Club’s executive course, a nine-holer located across the street from the club’s 18-hole facility.
The layout was a basic one; no water and very few bunkers. It was longer than a typical executive course however; our nine-hole trip covered 2,325 yards with a par of 34.
It wasn’t anything fancy but that wasn’t the idea and what followed was a most enjoyable afternoon. Neither of us played out best golf, but we weren’t looking to shoot a career-best round, or explore one of America’s Top 100 golf venues. It was simply an opportunity to spend an afternoon with a good friend, and that was all that was necessary.
The two of us have played a lot of golf together over the past 25 years, all over the Eastern United States and Canada. We’ve gone away on week-long trips, as well as shorter jaunts. Most often, we’ll set out on a weekday afternoon in search of a new golfing experience.
We’ve visited a wide variety of golf facilities along the way. Some would be familiar to any golf enthusiast and have hosted tour events and USGA national championships. We’ve also visited other outstanding venues that are largely unknown outside of their local areas. And there have been others, located in modest settings, that still had their own unique charm.
Most of the time it doesn’t matter to us where we end up. It isn’t about the venue but about friendship and mutual respect. We’ve had a lot of deep conversations on the golf course, sharing opinions and serving as each other’s sounding board on more than one occasion. We’re sure countless other golfers have the same experience, with a parent, a child, a spouse, a significant other, or just a good friend.
It’s these kinds of experiences that make golf so special; that are the essence of the game. Golf brings people together who might never have encountered each other otherwise. It enables us to connect with those of different backgrounds who have had life experiences different from our own, and share our deepest thoughts with a good friend.
And in the end, when we sum up our golfing experiences, all that will matter to us much more than the numbers on our scorecard.Written by Rick Woelfel
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