Spring: when golf obsession reawakens

By Grant McGee

Spring is here. It arrived early last Sunday morning.
With its arrival, area folks’ thoughts turn to many things: Some will think of gardening, others of home improvements, a number will think of baseball.

Daily I’ll be pondering the spring winds that whip across the eastern New Mexican plains, wondering how they’ll affect my bicycle riding.

Then there are golfers.

There are some who play golf all year long. Others wait for the first day of spring as a sign to hit the course.

I’m not clear on the lure of golf. I know it’s popular; I know by the presence of golf courses. We have two courses here in Clovis, another at Cannon Air Force Base. There are courses in Farwell, Portales and Friona (very creative design with U. S. 60 passing over it). The tiny town of Jal, far to our south, even has one.

Shoot, the tiny Texas hamlet of Pyote, south of Jal on Interstate 20 has a course. Well, I don’t know if you’d call it a course; it’s a dirt lot where the golfers among Pyote’s few residents putt the balls around.

I don’t play golf. This may go back to my childhood. Golf was imprinted on my mind as a deadly sport. I remember my father telling my mother “so-and-so died after the 18th hole” at the local country club. In these stories, the cause of death was always a heart attack. So growing up, I thought playing golf was a pretty dicey thing.

In junior high school, my favorite coach — Coach Hill was the guy who told me it wasn’t good to wear a plaid shirt with plaid pants — taught me how to hold the club and hit the golf ball. After school I went out into a nearby field and hit a few balls. It was a satisfying feeling when the club head connected with the ball and sent it flying. I dropped it when nobody else in my clique wanted to play.

Years later I worked with a guy who lived and breathed golf. One time at lunch we ran into a golfing buddy of his. Those two jumped into an intense discussion about the sport; it was if they were speaking a foreign language.

Some time later my golfing friend passed on after battling cancer. That town named an annual charity golf tournament after him. I had no idea how much he loved the sport or how well respected he was in golfing.

I probably wouldn’t make a good golfer anyway. I don’t know if I’d take it seriously enough. I shared a golf-course apartment with my cousin Barb in Florida. Every now and then after work, she and I would have a few adult beverages (this was back when I indulged in those things), then she’d say, “Let’s go knock some balls around.”

I’d get my wedge, a wood and a plastic shopping bag of balls. Then we’d sit on the porch and wait until there weren’t any authorized players in sight. Then we’d walk out on the course and start swinging.

So you golfers, keep having fun out there. I’ll wave as I’m riding by on my bicycle.

I promise I won’t yell out, “FORE,” like I did in high school.
That seems to get y’all upset.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: blisscreeksw@yahoo.com