The end of the line

On Sunday, with the November sun ramping the temperature up to a balmy 10 degrees celcius, I took a short drive from my in-laws to Firerock, a neat little Tom McBroom course just outside London that opened late last year. I actually expected to find it closed — as there was still snow on the ground Saturday morning. Instead, I found a half dozen cars in the parking lot, a pro in the shop and a gent coming up the wonderful 18th to finish a two hour round.
Too bad I wasn’t there to play, just to pick up a Christmas present. The course looked wonderful, the grass was green and the golfers seemed to be having fun. It would have been a perfect day for the year’s final round. Instead, I grabbed my purchase, dreamed of what could have been, and walked back to my car.
That’s not to say my final round — played some time ago now — wasn’t a good way to end 2005. I shot 77, one of my better scores in an up-and-down year. I hit lots of fairways, something I haven’t managed all that often and I hit the ball over 300 yards a couple of times. I made a birdie. It was a fine way to end things. I had fun.

It has been a strange year in many respects. I took most of the summer off to look after my daughter, Sydney, and didn’t play nearly as often as I had in the past. Then my driver deserted me, making the game a lot less fun. Last year I broke par a handful of times — this year I only managed it once. All the same, I played seven of the top 100 in the world; won $350 in a majors pool; had an amazing time in Ireland with three of my most treasured golfing companions; encountered a ghost at the Bushmills Inn; found my drive again; and had Travel & Leisure Golf ask me to help cover the Canadian golfing scene. Not bad, all things considered.

Apparently Lorne Rubenstein is having fun playing Devil’s Paintbrush. Lorne is right — it is a great place to play golf. While too many architects are concerned about making their course 7,400 yards long, the Paintbrush is all about fun. It isn’t even 7,000 from the tips, if I recall correctly. Read Lorne’s story and then find a way to get onto the Brush. Beg, borrow or just drive up and jump off the first tee late one afternoon. Was that my outside voice?

Here’s a Reuters story about how great the Ryder Cup, at the K Club in Ireland, will be next year. Too bad they didn’t find a worthwhile course to play on. Ireland is full of them, but the K Club isn’t among them.

SI writer Bob Casper notes that Mike Weir should be comeback player of the year in 2006. We’ll see. I hope so, as it is more fun having a Canadian a top the leaderboards, but my gut tells me Weir is done being a major contender.

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Jeff Lancaster

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