From the Fringe...
The summer is a double-edged sword for me in so many ways. Just like when I was a kid, and never wanted the new school year to start, summers still fly by way too fast for me.
On one hand, it’s good because I love my job, and I love filling the fall and winter sports pages full of local sports. I love writing about what local high school and college kids do in sports each and every weekend, and let’s face it, outside of baseball and some recreational sports there just isn’t that much to cover.
But, having said all that, the summer does allow me to pursue one of my personal favorites and that’s golf. And when the summer winds down, and the kids and fans return to place like Blue Pony Stadium and the Havre High gymnasium, I start to see less-and-less of my golf clubs. And ultimately, they I go from seeing them unused in the back of my car to passing them by all winter in my basement.
And as said as that is to me, I usually have some good golf memories to fall back on during the harsh winter months in Havre. And this summer will be no different.
You see, it didn’t start out this way, but now I’m on a quest to play as many Montana golf courses as I can while I’m still able to hit the ball somewhat straight and with at least some distance. Now, I doubt my quest will ever catch up to my good friend Gerry Veis, who I know has played about every hole you can find in Montana.
But I’m getting there, and I checked a new one off my list just recently.
Last weekend, my wife and I trekked to Eureka, and the ultra-upscale Wilderness Club. Not a fully private golf community, the Wilderness Club is a truly special place that’s open to anyone, and based on rates I’ve seen at other places, the stay-and-play package is very affordable. It has on-course accommodations, with golf cottages for rent and a larger lodge for big groups. And it’s also set in one of the most scenic parts of Montana I’ve ever seen. Up until last Thursday, I’d thought I’d seen it all when it comes to the beauty of Montana, but I had never been to Eureka and the scenery took my breath away.
But the main reason I was there was to play golf while celebrating Amy’s and my 13th anniversary. And I wasn’t disappointed
We stayed in one of the cottages on the course and awoke for our 9:40 a.m. tee time on Friday morning, and right from the start, Wilderness Club was all class. Our cart was ready for us, we were treated to unlimited use of the range and practice facility, and even received some quick course tips from the starters.
And I needed every tip I could get. It’s one thing to go into a new course blind, but a Nick Faldo-designed championship mountain course with some of the most evil bunkering I’ve ever seen, and some of the most severely sloped greens I’ve ever putted on, that’s something else.
Luckily, however, I played well and was paired with a couple from Lethbridge who had played the day before and had at least some course knowledge.
As for the course itself, I was left with four words. Spectacular, difficult and really difficult by the end of the round. But when I’m road-trip golfing, as I like to do so often, I want to play those types of courses. I still care about my score, but mostly I care about playing well, hitting good shots and playing really difficult, challenging golf courses, and I got all of that at the Wilderness Club. It was in fact, one of the best days of golf I’ve had in a long time, and that’s saying something, because any day I’m on a golf course is a good day in my book.
Yes, Wilderness Club was my 40th Montana course, and it came on the heels of my trip to the Missoula Country Club, a course I had played before, but not in 13 years. I’d also made a run to Marias Valley in Shelby the Monday before I went to Wilderness Club, so in the last couple weeks, I guess you could say I got out and played some golf.
And for me, that’s what summer’s all about. I like to get out and enjoy golf courses I don’t get to see or play every day. It’s not just a hobby anymore, it’s an obsession. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my home courses. I grew up on Beaver Creek and I play Prairie Farms almost daily in the summer months.
But I guess I’ve also become a golf course enthusiast and I’m now on a mission to play as many golf courses in Montana as they’ll let me on, and as many as I can drive to.
I checked a good one off my list last week in Eureka, and while I won’t see much of my clubs the rest of the summer and fall, maybe once a week from here on out, I can rest easy knowing I made the most of my summer on my home course, and well beyond.
And as the golf season slowly winds down, I’ll be enjoying writing about all of our great local sports teams and individual athletes. I’ll enjoy watching football, volleyball and all of the other sports to follow. And I’ll already look forward to coaching tennis again next spring, and all the things I do for a living.
But you can also bet I’ll catch myself daydreaming of the golf courses I’ll play next summer. I’ll find myself plotting my next golf move while there’s a foot of snow outside my office window. And I can’t wait to see my clubs again.