On Friday I ducked away for a quick 27 holes in the lovely sunshine at Osprey Valley with my friend John. Given the sunshine and lovely warm temperatures, and the great company and courses (Osprey has long been among my Top 3 places in the province to play…), it was hard not to enjoy our quick tour around the parkland course.
Interestingly, several courses — especially the private ones — are now closing. Devil’s Paintbrush, up the road from Osprey Valley, closed on Friday. Others are also shutting down — even my local driving range is closing up. Some public courses will stay open — Osprey, for example, keeps taking green fees until the snow falls — while others, like Eagles Nest in Maple, will shut down in a week.
And me? I’m ducking out to Eagles Nest one last time tomorrow, before heading to New York to play a couple of rounds on Long Island and attend a Callaway function in Manhattan. But with the exception of these rounds, the year is all but over. I know that’s the case — I packed up my golf shirts today, which is a ritual for the end of the season, just like the kids going back to school always signaled the end of summer for me.
Barring something unexpected, my year has been a mixed bag as far as playing goes. It started out well — with great games at Tobiano, Talking Rock and Predator Ridge. I was in the mid-70s at Predator Ridge and my handicap slipped ever lower. That’s when my grip and posture deserted me, leaving my irons going in eight different directions. It wasn’t pretty. By the time I recovered from that, I was plagued by the hooks with my driver.
I recall speaking to James Lepp at the 2006 Canadian Open. He told me his struggles involved his driver — his misses were both to the right and left. That was me for most of the year. Only in the last few weeks has it come about, and even then it crops up again.
I never let it get me too down, but since me irons were crisp, even my long irons, the problem was perplexing. The game — and my driver — would resurface now and again. At Osprey Valley in September, I shot 74 and hit practically every fairway. And I wasn’t as sharp at Osprey on Friday — but I wasn’t bad either.
So where does this leave me? Actually kind of looking forward to a break from golf. I’ll likely head south in the New Year for a week, and there’s a trip to London, England looming (with stops at Royal St. George’s and Sunningdale), but beyond that, I have no plans.
Of course, the game still fascinates me. It is the nuances that keep me coming back. My friend Alan McLean called last night from Texas — to say he’d made it through the first stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School. It was a nice moment for Alan in a difficult year. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the final selection of architects for Weir Golf Design — something I’ve been invested in for a year — turns out.
Lastly though, I leave the 2008 golf season wondering about the future. The economy rocks along like a rollercoaster, and golf is surely close behind. Just recently a major private club in the Toronto area, struggling for members, let go of one of its highly-regarded pros. Talk is a couple of dozen additional employees won’t be returning next year either. That’s a sign of the situation most clubs face — not enough golfes, too much golf. This, of course, comes on top of the wettest summer in recent memory. It isn’t a pretty picture. If the summer was a golf card, June and September/October would be birdies, but the peak summer months would contain at least one double-bogey.
So the card is mixed, at best. But thankfully in golf there’s always more rounds to look forward to, and if you’re as fanatical about it as I am, there’s hope that better games are ahead.