The Creek at Qualchan Golf Course in Spokane opened yesterday. This early season opening is a far cry from the last two years, when snow piles predominated into April. For much of my life the approach of golf season was a central focus. Each year my brothers and I would retell the story of the year we played in February, chipping ice from atop the holes before we putted. Golf was for us what seed catalogs and garden planning was for Sally, a harbinger of Spring.
I'm still as eager for Spring's arrival as ever, though more for the chance to ride my bicycle than anything else. Yes, of course, a bike can be ridden all winter. There is protective gear designed to keep out the wet and cold, and even studded tires for traction on ice and snow. You can also play golf in the snow. It just isn't much fun. I'm looking forward to the days when I can work up a sweat from my riding exertions, rather than the fact that I'm encased in multiple layers of clothing and a waterproof shell.
As for golf? I haven't hardly played at all the last two seasons. I hurt my right shoulder the summer before last, and then spent my time remodeling the kitchen a year ago. I've gotten out of the habit.
I also have developed an issue with golf. As I've become increasingly serious about reconciling my beliefs and actions, the nature (or lack thereof) of golf courses has become an obstacle to my enjoyment. The Creek at Qualchan is a beautiful, emerald oasis. But its weed free, deep green aura is the result of heavy fertilizer and pesticide application, as well as an extent of irrigation that I simply can't abide. I've begun to associate golf courses with Dolly Parton. Like Dolly, the beauty of a golf course has an original basis in nature, but you'd never guess that now. Nature's original blessings have been all but obscured beneath multiple levels of artificial enhancement. Golf courses have become a caricature of nature, rather than its epitome.
I'm not saying I won't play a round of golf or two this year if the opportunity presents itself. I also enjoy Dolly Parton's voice and under appreciated musical genius. But golf is no longer the focus of my existence as it once was. Watching the South Hill's trees and gardens come alive from the seat of a bike? I can hardly wait.