The United States Golf Association (USGA) has been running a commercial for years. In it, two young guys sit with their golf bags on a bench outside a tiny starter’s shack, under an overhanging roof. The rain pours down.
“This is nothing,” one golfer asserts. “Couple of minutes it’ll let up, and we’ll be golfing, my friend.”
It’s raining harder.
“Just a passing shower,” says the optimist.
Absolute downpour. Friend gets up and leaves.
“Hey! Where ya goin’?” wails the weather optimist.
Weather optimist sitting all alone, dejectedly. Another golfer shows up and asks, “You a single?”
“You bet!” says the optimist, all happiness again as the rain thunders down.
Eight days ago, my wife and I had our first Sunday golfing date in a long time. Too long. The weather was iffy, the way it’s been all over the northeast all spring. We had found a lovely nearby course that lets you play unlimited holes for $20 after 4:00 p.m. on Sundays, just our speed, and, despite a gentle rain, had motored off with our spirits high.
My game has gone to hell over about a four-year period, starting with a torn right rotator cuff. (Moral: Never lift a woman’s suitcase without trying out its heft first.) Then my transplanted kidney started to fail and I got weak. My swing collapsed, specifically my backswing as I reacted to the pain of lifting my arms up and to the right. Twenty years of prednisone finally took their toll on my tendons. Example: my spreading feet are now a size bigger than they have been in all the years of my earlier life. We had another child. We moved. All sorts of things.
And our long-standing Sunday date disappeared, too.
Sally knows the commercial as well as I do. “Just a passing shower,” I said as we drove to the course. “Couple of minutes, it’ll clear right up. And we’ll be golfing, my friend.”
Just to make her laugh.
We paid our fee, mounted our cart, and started off in what Ben Wright would call “a nice, soft day.” Keep score? Forget it, when neither of us has played in a year. We needed to learn how to handle a New England golf course again, with its uphill and downhill and sidehill lies, its big breaks on the greens, and its deep clover rough, now soaking wet. Off to the west, the sky revealed a bright stripe, to the east, a lowering gloom.
We had rain suits, but they didn’t do much good. We played on, alternate holes featuring alternate weather, with rain returning harder every time. Finally, by the eighth, where I had hit a 220-yard drive with a five wood (not bad for an old guy), we had to give up, and we started driving back up the cart path toward the clubhouse. We had to poot along slowly, to avoid making the rain pound in on our faces.
On the way, we passed two young guys, drenched, just leaving the sixth green, their bags slung over their shoulders — no carts for them.
“You want a ride back?” we asked.
“No, we’re playin’!” said one of them, a big grin on his face.
That’s the only thing wrong with the USGA commercial. Their golfers are waiting for the rain to stop.