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Where's the Heat?

By: Bob Spiwak


Yesterday my wife and I drove 70 miles to the nearest Safeway because her cat is partial to Safeway kitty food. One does not argue with a 16-year-old cat. The store is in Chelan, Wash., about seven miles short of our regular golf course, Bear Mountain Ranch. While the town was snowless, up on the distant hills where the course lies was a wonderland of white. To assuage my golf lust we stopped at a thrift store and I emerged with Lynx irons, 6 through pitch. Seventy-five cents each and in remarkably good shape.

Not that I don't already have too many clubs. After all, I've been building them since the '80s. But hey, these just might be "The Secret." Of course I know better. And the grooves are legal on the PGA Tour.

We live near the town of Winthrop in Washington's North Cascade Mountain range. At this time of year, early January, there will ordinarily be three to four feet of snow on the ground. Our valley boasts the second largest groomed cross-country ski area in the nation and, for this reason, there will be XC ski trials for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, northwestward across the mountains from here. The trials in Winthrop begin on January 16th.

Problem is, we have a mere foot of snow on the ground and, for a week, it has been raining like the oft-mentioned cow peeing on a flat rock. The powder is mucky, the underlayment of ice and packed snow mushier than a bowl of cold oatmeal. But these are Olympians and must persevere.

For us golfers it is a different matter. In years past I have taken a large mat and, after plowing a narrow un-fairway with the tractor, blasted balls in warmer weather (above 25 degrees) until the arthritis screamed. But it was just swinging a club and batting a ball to who-knows-where. This usually happened before any of the sun-soaked tournaments of the week were on TV, the golf mags read and handed off to a buddy, and the ever-tiresome putting-to-a-target-on-a-rug that Stimps at around 16.

"Our" course will be entering its sixth year in April, and that is when it usually opens annually. There is a fine nine-holer nearer to us by over 60 miles, but play usually begins at April's end or early May. We golfers know that the weather we're experiencing is just a teaser sent by the golf gods, the same ones who give us left breaks on a green that is decidedly downhill to the right. We will get yet more snow and temperatures far from the 30-degree we've had, the sun will come out, and from the North Pole a high-pressure front will bring us sub-zero days once more.

Hopefully the cat will need more food by then and, if I can't hit balls, at least I can go to the thrift store. Hopefully, that gorgeous MacGregor persimmon 3-wood might still be where I hid it between two mattresses.

You take your golf as you can get it.

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 ultra-private Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.