The Outsider: Jonesing for High Country golf
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been jonesing to play golf for at least the past three weeks. Jonesing hard. Even if you aren’t like me, you’ve probably been itching to do just about anything summery since the lifts stopped spinning: sail a boat, ride some singletrack, fly a kite, play disc golf (just as good as the real thing yet much cheaper), simply lounge on a patio with nothing but a tank top and shorts. And, if you’re one of the luck few, you’ve already taken a trip to Moab or Radium or Salida or the Great Sand Dunes (aka my summer itinerary) for a taste of real, live summertime. I’m envious, and you’d better believe I’ll salivate over the photos next time I’m on Facebook. If there’s one thing that site does well it’s help me live vicariously.
But, as of right now — a gorgeous (if windy) Friday afternoon in the thick of May — I’m solidly jonesing for golf more than anything else. Luckily, I won’t be living vicariously through Facebook feeds much longer: Keystone opened nine holes on The River Course yesterday, while up north in Silverthorne, the Raven Golf Club has been taking foursomes on the Front 9 since last weekend. Chances are the full 18 there will open in the next week or so, followed soon after by the Elk 9 and Beaver 9 at Breckenridge Golf Club — like Keystone, the Breck driving range opened on Friday the 13th — and, finally, Copper Creek Golf Course in mid-June when Copper’s deep, snowy base has finally faded for the summer.
Thing is, I’m not exactly a good golfer — more like lucky on occasion and frustratingly inconsistent on average. I wouldn’t even call my play respectable, unless you consider consistent bogey and double bogey golf respectable. I only manage one or two birdies and a handful of pars per round, and I’ve yet to sink an eagle in my life. I didn’t even start shooting birdies until a few summers ago, and this is coming from someone who’s been swinging clubs since 9 years old with the junior golf program at Indian Tree Golf Club. That’s a solid 18-plus years of practice. No wonder this game made an alcoholic of John Daly, and he was a professional.
But, still, like so many would-be John Dalys and Greg Normans — the Great White Shark was my favorite as a kid and only because he had a cool, multi-colored shark logo to pair with his Aussie accent — I stick by the old golfers’ mantra: “Golf and sex are the only things you can enjoy without being good at them.” And it’s the truth. Do you know anyone who’s miserable at skiing, biking, rock-climbing or any other mountain sport, and yet they continue coming back, over and over, season after season, to improve with the paralyzing speed of a bed-ridden snail? I don’t, and even if I did, I might try pushing them to something a bit more enjoyable. Maybe ping-pong, or possibly dog walking.
So. With that in mind, why do I continue spending the equivalent of two-week’s grocery budget on a single afternoon of cursing, flailing and shanked balls? And how in the hell do I still enjoy it? Simple enough: We live in Summit County. Sure, the local golf season takes at least a month longer to get rolling than Denver’s, but, once it does, there’s nowhere I’d rather be on a mellow August afternoon than the Back 9 at Raven, or Hole 9 at EagleVail Golf Club, or any one of a dozen driving ranges with white-capped peaks as a backdrop. (Not a bad marketing pitch, eh?)
See, for me, biking and hiking and disappearing into the backcountry all have their place, and there’s no doubt that golf as a game can be insanely frustrating. But, when I’m able to set aside a thirst for remote adventure and the rabid competitiveness I reserve for other sports, golf in the High Country is nothing more than a walk in the woods with good friends, cold beers and a few white balls. Sounds like heaven, and you’d better believe I’m jonesing for a slice of it.
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