i Forgot, But It Was 42 Years Ago

This is not a Christmas post. But both incidents, 42 years apart, occurred as Christmas approached. i should have learned 42 years ago:

1978, Bryan, Texas, the sister city of College Station, Texas, home of TAMU and entwined much like Chula Vista and Bonita are entwined in the Southwest corner today. Christmas break at Texas A&M. December 22 with Bill McFall, the executive officer of the NROTC Unit at Texas A&M suggested (or perhaps it was me) that the two of us play golf at the Bryan city course.

It was cold.

We dressed warm. Surprisingly when we got to the clubhouse, the parking lot was empty. The starter was the only one in the clubhouse. Perhaps, because it was several degrees below freezing, the only  person besides Bill and me was the starter. We had no problem teeing off on time.

It was about 7:30 when we teed off.  My drive was okay but to the left, unusual for those days — i was a major slicer then and for most of my golfing exploits. Bill hit a nice drive down the middle. Figures. Aviators are always good golfers. i  took out a six iron. The shot went significantly right and landed on the water hazard next to the green. Except the water hazard was not water. It was iced over. My ball hit the ice and rolled to the middle of the hazard,.

Since there were not a lot of golfers before or after us, like none, we approached the green and decided to retrieve my ball. We found stray limbs around the hazard and  slid them across the frozen pond attempting to hit the ball and impel it to the other edge. It took a while, but we did get the ball back. We laughed. We were dressed warmly and the layers made throwing accuracy not, sort of like our golf shots.

It was cold.

It was the coldest round of golf i’ve ever played. i vowed to not to play in really cold weather again. Of course, i have violated that vow many times but it was a relative thing.

This past Wednesday, i remembered my vow. Unfortunately, i remembered on the second tee. There were few tee times available, but i managed a 6:38 for two at Bonita Golf Club, one of my favorite of comfortable places to play in the world.

(Dealing with the pestilence upon us in the Southwest corner is a curious thing. The restrictions keep changing based on reaction, not proaction. This has led to some very strange curiosities. For example, restaurants were shut down, then opened to take out, then open to outdoor dining, then open to social distancing  — damn, i still dislike that rather oxymoronic phrase — then restricted to outdoor dining, then takeout only, and the bounce from the last two phases has occurred three times in the last five days. Parks and play areas for children have been closed along with the restaurants,  but, get this, strip bars were allowed to operate until last week and then won a lawsuit to remain open, in which the judge included restaurants and that, my friends, lasted one day, Now there is an injunction putting the re-openings on hold.)

Golf courses have remained open since the first two months of the entire Southwest corner going homebound (March and April). Then, somebody figured out, golf was pretty safe with some precautions, which every course deciding what was “pretty safe” without any consistency whatsoever. Long live 2020, not only in crazy, but kicking it up a notch pretty damn close to idiocy.

Yet that has allowed us to have some relief. It just turned out last Tuesday was one of the coldest days in Bonita for quite a while. Somewhere around 5:50 when i left our house on the hill above the valley where the golf course abides, the thermometers read 42. i’m thinking “this is okay, it will warm up quickly. Wrong. As i drove through the entrance to the course, the outdoor temperature reading on my gauge read 38.

It didn’t feel like 38. It felt like it was Antartica. Before my second shot on the first hole, my hands like they were hanging in a meat freezer. For about five holes when i hit my shot, it felt like i was hitting a five-pound rock. It was not pretty. i was cursing myself for not buying some hand warmers or golf gloves. By the sixth hole, i began to feel like my hands were actually attached to my wrists. Before we finished the first nine, i was out of three layers of clothing and playing in my short sleeve shirt and trousers (i mean you folks have to live in the Southwest corner for a while to understand this weather). i think i got up a bit of a sweat by 13. But when i finished, there remained a tingling in my fingers.

Pete and i made an oath to not play before 8:00 a.m. between November and March. i’m guessing this vow may last a couple of weeks. But a couple of weeks is a chunk shorter than 42 years between my round with Bill McFall and this one.

But i’m old and now bragging is sometimes more important than my golf score or frozen slabs for hands.

Merry Christmas…and in memory of Jeff Caplenor, if you have a chance, play a round of golf.

Cold is relative.

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