Folks, I am in denial at the moment,it happens every year,the plight of a Mid-Atlantic golfer and one of my most favorite things is about to cease. Summer is ending and a shadow is falling on my precious late afternoon rounds. Daylight on a golf course at 8:30PM is the closest I have come to nirvana. It is absolutely liberating,even if the greens are rolling a bit faster due to a day spent baking in the sunshine. The serenity of an empty golf course with a soundtrack provided by singing birds and chirping crickets is the closest I have ever been to God. This is my church,my peaceful place where it is so divine that I can think clearly about life and reason out the nuances of my game. Just last night, I figured something out about my shoulder on my drives and once I had that breakthrough I was making solid contact repeatedly. The pace of play is a gift; finishing 18 in under 3 hours is nothing short of miraculous.
My love of late afternoon rounds certainly stems from time I spent on the golf course with my Father, who worked a tremendous amount. He operated his own business for 25 years. Some weeks he would work 6 or 7 days a week and other weeks his schedule was more flexible to allow more time for golf and family. He often took me to the driving range in the late afternoon to hit balls. When we played golf on the weekend it was always late afternoon rounds. There is nothing more beautiful than a golf course at sunset and having the privilege to share those moments with someone you love.
This Summer I have taken my own Daughter, Hailey a few times to play late afternoon golf. She prefers to run to her ball and hit it, over riding in the cart. You can't bottle that kind of enthusiasm. Although, she is athletically gifted, I exert no pressure on her because I want her to love the game. Hail plays off of the USGA Family Tee and she has had putts for eagle a couple of times now. The quiet of the late afternoon also allows me to explain some of the on course etiquette too.
The days of me standing on the practice area garbed in attire that makes me resemble the Michelin Man, in 30 degree weather approaches shortly. Every year I go down fighting in the Fall, unwilling to accept the inevitably dimming light. Two Autumns ago I recall begging my girlfriends to play a Par 3 with a carry over water in near darkness out of desperation. We could barely see racing back to the clubhouse and narrowly avoiding quite a few trees.
One more closing admission, the 19th hole is best enjoyed at 8 or 9pm. For the next few weeks I will drown my sunset golf sorrows in a beverage or two.