Life and weather conspired to delay my first round of 2013 outdoor golf until April 23.
In Syracuse, the golf season is short enough.
The last couple of years, though, my go-to golfing buddy and I have been able to sneak out for a soggy start of the year before the first number of the date turned from 3 to 4. (As an added bonus, a few of those years I’ve also been able to extend leaf-search ball into the month that starts with 11 instead of 10, but that’s another chapter to this golfing passion.)
Yesterday, the sun was bright, the temperatures were 40s-heading-higher and Kingpin didn’t have to go to the old paragraph factory until the afternoon.
As the clock struck nine, Westvale accepted us with an open first tee. The foursome ahead was leaving the first green as I struck my first tee ball of the outdoor season.
Pretty straight, straying slightly into the right rough. Long enough, clearly hit toward the middle of that huge and friendly face of ol’ Big Bertha Diablo.
For the next three hours, KP and I embarked on one of our trademark Even-Steven rounds. We’ve been playing golf together for three decades now, and our games are different enough to make it interesting but similar enough to keep the match close.
I hit it further, clearing the mid-fairway hazard on Son of a Ditch. He hits it further, taking best advantage of the downhill vista on Long May You Run.
He beats me a couple of holes on the front nine. I beat him a couple of holes on the back nine. “You’re 0-0-1 for the season,” KP chuckles as we walk to the cars.
But the highlight of my opening day goes to KP.
We both drive it on the preferred line, just left of the mid-fairway tree on this risk-reward, less-than-300-yard par-four. KP hits first, a wedge that stops in the longish grass just short of the green. My wedge is too solid, over the back into the rough. KP pulls out his new lob wedge. “I’ll hit the club I bought at the golf expo,” he declares.
Lob it he does, a pretty thing that hits softly, rolls true, kisses the pin and settles, oh-so-sweetly, into the cup.
First birdie of the season goes to KP. High-five. We never get too accustomed to birdies.
“I’ll hit the lob, too,” I decide, eyeing the over-the-ledge and down-the-slope journey my Titleist No. 55 has in its future.
Open the face. Shorter swing, but not slower swing. Accelerate through.
Over the ridge, plop on the green. Curve left, steady momentum toward the pin, great line, could it be …
The ball passes the hole and continues another eight feet. I miss the par putt.
No matter. The birdie and the anticipation of a match-it sufficed.
May the remainder of golf season 2013 be so fulfilling.