Dec 22

Golf – A Winter Industry?

Golf in the Winter Snow?

To start with, anyone who lives in Florida, or anything like it, doesn’t need to bother with this. I live in a very nice town in the Pacific Northwest, and that’s the sort of folks I’m talking to – yes, Northeners, for the most part. It’s winter here, and there are about 11 inches of snow on the ground. It’s not Christmas yet, so that’s no problem – yet. In a few days, the whole mentality is going to change. Whatever golf equipment was under the tree, the gravitational attraction of spring is going to get under our skins, and curling up under a blanket with a good book will lose its attraction for anyone with a golfing spirit. We’ll want to get out and use those Christmas goodies. The excitement of snow at Christmas will turn to, “When will it end?,” and other symptoms will manifest themselves as a yearning for spring, summer, and fall sports – I mean golf, of course.

Igolf in winter was wondering what it would take to create a true winter industry for golfers in northern states such as mine. Keeping a fairway and green clear is, of course, the first big hurdle, but past that, I’m not sure that the course would be obligated to do more. Snow is trouble, just as non-winter rough is. It’s a case of “tough luck, buddy,” either way. So find a way to give us a stretch, and we’ll take it from there if we go astray.
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We can also take care of how to dress. Winter rules are fine, to a point, but you still have to play from the white rough. The driving range would require some sort of heating mechanism so we don’t lose roll, and can read the distance flags. Maybe snow fences can be put up, as they do in Wyoming and Montana. Of course, one needs a cart path that is exempt from avalanches (don’t laugh, it can happen out here) or wash-outs. There is certainly a counterpart for the beer lady or beer man. It’s simple – the hot chocolate lady or man, or for the more spartan player, the hot-toddy, Bailey’s Irish cream, Scotch crowd, in small enough doses to prevent on-course violence, damage, or people getting lost.

The first promotional hurdle is getting the information out that it’s really happening. A whole community needs to be convinced, and shown that it’s possible…and fun. Until the idea really catches on, the course doesn’t have to man the pro shop with ten employees – one will do, and at the most, two.
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There are some differences that are difficult to control, especially in the American or Canadian outback. Getting off the course in the event of dicey weather is one thing in a summer rain – and even if a lightning storm surprises you, jumping into the cart and vamoosing usually works fine. Snow rapture, however, affects people differently. It starts to fall, and we go ga-ga. Since it accumulates gradually, things can get out of control before we realize it. Plus, winter has new tenants in some parts of the forest country. Playing through might involve deer, elk, bunny rabbits, coyotes, mountain lions or bears – there’s no way to know. This is not usually such a problem in town, but keep in mind that packing a firearm counts as one club, and the USGA has set limits.

It all hinges on post-holiday withdrawal, something that will cover the anti-climax of the gifts being unwrapped, the basketball season being too young, the football season ending, the next door neighbors going to the Bahamas while you’re not. Industry emerges based on need, and i there’s a need, it comes between January and April, with the low point coming in mid-February. This barren stretch of the calendar cries out for golf. Just as football goes indoors to the arena league, a few simple adaptations, both to the course and the golfer’s brain, could cure the late winter blues.

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