'I don’t think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for a while'
What’s in a name, Shakespeare asked? Fate.
The event was an 18-hole fundraising tournament for the Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy and the Bayfield Maritime Museum, a fine repository of the city’s seafaring past where I have been a volunteer the last two summers. So when asked to name our foursome for the scramble I went with The Maritime Men. Yo ho ho, and all that.
Maybe that’s why on game day the weather was maritime bad in every way, more appropriate for sunken ships than sunken putts, a day when historic preservation gave way to self-preservation. When I began the 600-foot climb to Apostle Highlands GC high on the hills overlooking Lake Superior the fog grew thicker with every curve I rounded and when I reached the clubhouse I couldn’t even see the first tee a short ways away.
On the one hand, the dream of hitting a golf ball farther than the eye can see was about to become reality.
On the other hand – what other hand? I couldn’t see my other hand. There must be a perverse rule of golf (aren’t they all?) that when you have had week after week of beautiful summer weather the morning of a highly anticipated golf event will suffer for weather because once again it had happened. In addition to fog there was mist in the air, the wind was swirling and gathering strength and rain was forecast. When I saw my partner Rich wearing shorts before we teed off I asked if he planned to change and he said no, it was July. When I saw others wearing stocking caps I was going to tell them the same thing but didn’t think they’d hear me through all the wool.
However, there was no rumble thunder or crackling lightning to pose danger so we sailored on, 18 or so teams of four players intent on raising money for two worthy organizations. Our group – Jack, Rich, Jeff and I – began on the fourth hole, a par-3 where a hole-in-one would give the lucky player a brand new car. Yeah, right, 186 yards into the wind and fog to put a small ball into a 4.25-inch hole on a soft-focused green somewhere in the soggy beyond, but you never know.
No, wait, sometimes you do know. That shot was harder than finding a modest man in Congress but we salvaged par and were on our way.
It wasn’t that good golf was entirely impossible. On the 366-yard fifth hole – granted, it plays downhill – I smacked a drive that caromed off the hill on the right side and tumbled to rest at the 100-yard marker (you do the math, I’m too modest).
“We’re going to be reading about that one,” Rich muttered, which of course was true but I still thought it a snide thing to say to his own teammate. Apparently a bit of March in mid-July brings out the mean in a man. It also brought out the mean in the weather. After a while the mist turned to rain, followed by a teasing moment of clearing before more rain returned and seized the day.
Naturally, Jack channeled “Caddyshack” (“I don’t think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for a while.”) while everyone and everything got wet. And slick. On the short par-3 11th hole one woman’s ball traveled through the slop to the edge of the green, unfortunately about twice as far as the club that slipped from her wet hands windmilled before landing in the pond that fronts the green.
But you know what? It was golf, it was fun and eventually it was over. The Maritime Men showed moxie by tying for low score with a 63 but lost to the other group on a scorecard playoff.
It will, by the way, be the last tournament we play under that name. Next year, I’m calling us the Sunshine Boys.