Saturday, January 23, 2016

Five Stages of an Ohio Golfer's Winter

Looking out of the office window, I can see a foot of snow through the gently falling flakes. I’ve shoveled twice today and will likely shovel once more before the day is done. The 10-day forecast doesn’t offer any hope for a January thaw.

Hope there's hot chocolate in that flask!
All of this is great if I was writing this article for American Skier - as opposed to American Golfer. Welcome to the life of a golfer in Northeast Ohio.

I’m officially in the Bargaining Stage of my five-stage process of dealing with no golf - smack in the middle. I’ve cleared two hurdles with two more to come. A quick look at the Five Stages of a Golfer’s Winter:

This is the shortest of the five stages. Before you know it, Stage 2 will be upon you and there’s no way to deny the inevitable - golf season is over and you have to put away the clubs until spring.

Scenario: It’s just cold. There’s no snow. We can get in a round of golf. Then it happens ... the wind shifts and Lake Effect Snow blankets the course with four holes remaining.

Even if you’re tougher than the majority, most courses are wise and close up shop for the remainder of the winter. A few greens fees aren’t worth possible damage to the greens.

You’re not pissed at the courses for closing. You’re mad about all the rounds you could have played this season, but didn’t. Remember the 70 percent chance of rain that never happened? That’s 18 holes in overcast conditions you’ll never know.

At this point, you would gladly trade that day by the pool for one more round. Or let your lawn grow for another day if you could walk another 18. Sadly, neither is possible. You’re now shoveling instead of mowing and will never know if an ace was waiting to be recorded back in July.

This is where we’re at now. Snow up to my knees with no end in sight. This is the time I tell myself that the upcoming season will be different. Instead of not playing when there’s a chance of rain, I’ll pack my rain suit and an umbrella. That day by the pool? All I remember now is the resulting sunburn. The lawn? It stays light until 9 p.m. in the summer. There’s always time to mow!

All of these if-then scenarios lead to the next stage of my winter ...

It’s coming. No amount of regret or hope can stop the inevitable. The skies on that 70-percent-chance-of-rain day have nothing on the dark cloud hanging over a golfer’s head when the depression of winter hits.

There are bright spots during Stage 4. You’ll enjoy some 50-degree days and eventually will see spots of grass where the sun consistently hits. And there will be stories of buddies playing in Cincinnati or Dayton. They’re golfing in Ohio! Spring can’t be too far away. But southern Ohio might as well be another state. Kentucky, you can have them! We live on the North Coast and the Snow Belt is our neighbor.

Periods of warmth and melting snow will almost assuredly be followed by another storm. Late-winter blizzards will have you curling up into a little ball and sobbing until you drift off - dreaming of summer.

Depression is real, my friends, and will take you down if you let it.

It’s not all bad. The PGA Tour has returned to action with Hawaii in the rearview mirror and sunny California now in play. Perhaps I’ve reached Stage 5 already.

I live in Ohio because I love it here. While I’ve lived and worked in the South, I’m a Buckeye, born and bred. I have a beautiful wife and three wonderful kids. I’m within a 10-second walk to an indoor golf simulator and spend my days writing and talking about the greatest game ever played.

Spring will be here before we know it and I’ll be enjoying every moment of my time on the course. But, please, if I ever complain about a 70-percent chance of rain, remind me of our long, cold winters and let’s take heart in the 30-percent chance of no rain.

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