December 12, 2014
During the Cape Region’s first December weekend, the weather outside wasn’t all that frightful, so I was able to play two rounds of golf that were actually pretty delightful.
Nonetheless, both days included several instances of what can happen in wet winter weather when out on the golf course, and the re-learning of some basic tips to enjoy December golf.
I met Nick DelCampo at Kings Creek Country Club on Saturday morning, and with the exception of one other pair of golfers, we had the course all to ourselves.
That’s one of the frequent pleasures of winter golf around here. There are rarely if ever any crowded conditions. Some of my shortest 18 holes of golf, well under three hours, have taken place in the off-season.
DelCampo and I used a golf cart because of the longish intervals between greens and tees on some holes, and because of the threat of rain. We played quickly, and finished well before the eventual sprinkles of Saturday afternoon turned into a steady downpour.
We didn’t have to worry about the golf balls rolling into trouble, either. Playing from the III tees, we hit midirons to the peninsula-like fairway of the short par-four 4th hole. Both tee shots plugged in the wet turf, eliminating any roll that might otherwise have put the balls into the adjacent pond.
Grounds wet from winter rains take far longer to dry out. The lack of roll can seriously shorten your normal shot distances, so you’re far better off playing from a shorter set of tees from the get go. That’s what we did.
The club selections for shots into the greens weren’t that different from normal, however, because the tee shots were so much shorter than usual.
DelCampo and I eventually also re-discovered the need to be a bit more aggressive in our putting on the slower, wetter greens.
On Sunday, I joined John Eustis for another brisk round of golf. In this case, however, the brisk part was the change in weather from the day before. With DelCampo, there was very little wind, and the temperature inched into the mid-50s.
With Eustis, the temperature never rose above 39, and the winds averaged 15-20 miles per hour. This is two-hat weather—one the usual baseball cap, and the other a knit, pulled over the first hat and covering the ears.
I also used a fresh charcoal-based hand warmer, a ski-resort quality winter glove on the hand pulling the cart, and about four layers of shirts/sweaters/pullovers.
If you layer correctly, you won’t look like Ralphie’s brother Randy in “Christmas Story,” and you’ll be able to adjust your clothing if the weather warms up.
The overnight rain kept the Rookery North course as wet as Kings Creek’s was the day before. I hit a driver 190 yards in the air into the wind on the third hole. The ball finished “rolling” all of 1.5 inches from the first landing spot.
On a skulled shot or two, we had no trouble seeing where the balls were heading, despite the low-angled bright sunlight. That’s because the balls were kicking up rooster tails along the wetter parts of the fairways.
Bunker shots also become their own interesting challenge. Eustis and I hit into the sand on different holes, watching large water splashes from the puddles that hadn’t yet drained.
The sand is wet, of course, but winter conditions make hard to tell if it is “loose,” or if it still a bit frozen from the overnight chill. Therefore, hitting from the bunkers involved a bit more guesswork than normal.
On both days, as during most winter rounds, the main goals were to enjoy the companionship, the opportunity to play, and to not worry too much about the results.
Success on all counts.