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Barbells & Snow Mold

By: Bob Spiwak


My balls are freezing! They are on the porch in two boxes. There are 100 yellow range-stripers and 103 mixed white ones of various condition.

We awoke this morning to no water. The pump house door somehow got open overnight and even with the heater on, the plumbing froze. It was 5 degrees at 0700. Closing the door, it took about an hour to get the agua flowing again.

Yesterday I shoveled the first green [Editor's note: Bob owns Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club in Mazama, Wash.], about 500 square feet, for the fourth time. This was pretty easy as there were only 4 inches of snow on it. When the operation first began in late January, the depth was between 36 and 40 inches. It was not easy shoveling. It was much like the barbell curls I could not do in high school when I was a 200-pound weakling. "Spiwak," Mr. Rosati would shout, "Get that thing to your chest or you're gonna get a size 12 up your rear." I really hated coach Rosati. Had we met on the beach at Sea Bright, I know he would have kicked sand in my face.

Anyhow, with snow that deep, it requires getting a shovel full, lifting it to clear the surrounding wall of snow and flinging it off to the side. The green needs to be shoveled every year because it is in the shade and the snow remains even after its eight sister greens have been cleared of snow. This situation produces a bumper crop of snow mold, pink mold and gray mold that is bad for the turf. Removing the snow with a shovel helps alleviate the problem. One year I procured some fungicide to be applied before the snow fell.

Uncharacteristically, I read the cautions and discovered to my horror that this stuff could kill my dog, my trout, my wife's cat and even my wife's husband. I did not use it. Better to put my crotch in a hernia truss than my body in a pine box, I reasoned.

I try to keep up with the snowfall in one area, carving and maintaining a 10-foot square open space, whereupon lies a 4 by 4 hitting mat. At least once a week I go out and hit balls to maintain my muscle memory. Problem is, the snow builds up around that cleared area and, after a few heavy snowfalls, golf balls tend to burrow into the wall of snow in front of me. For a while, I can taper it with the shovel and clear it with a 5-iron, (drivers have long become useless) and, gradually, I'm down to a wedge. Hitting a Phil-flop with a 60 degree wedge, wearing down mittens and a Michelin man down coat is really not the way to practice.

So when I see a tournament on TV and hear, as this year, how the players are whining because of the cold, like in the 60s, I must be pardoned for snickering, and truthfully, possessing a feeling of superiority.

Even if I still can't touch my chest with the barbell.

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he's back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob's most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultraprivate Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.

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