Would you rather be working in the garden this month or working on your golf game? The two endeavors share a few glowing commonalities. Either task requires sweat and strategy, and both pay off with inspired moments and sunshine. Our Puritan forebears might have offered a different opinion, but the poor souls never buckled on any golf cleats, did they?
There is always the risk that certain callow golfers among us might want to suddenly abandon the garden to hit the links. I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure I once stalked off a golf course in mid-round to get back to my petunias. My golf game, to borrow a line from Oscar Wilde, can be compared to the Bible — it begins in a garden and ends with an apocalypse.
Some people still think that golfers are nothing but a bunch of lunks riding in carts, draining six-packs of Budweiser and filling the air with rank clouds of cigar smoke and blue jokes. Some of these golfing clods do exist, yes, but they are generally confined to that foursome right in front of you of a Sunday afternoon, the bunch you stare at all day from the fairway while they lounge on the putting green telling stupendously long shaggy-dog stories.
Most golfers I’ve met have actually been very attuned to their natural surroundings. They discuss the surrounding flora with the passion of budding Luther Burbanks. Should they carve an ungainly divot out of the ground, they rush with furrowed brow to repair Mother Earth and leave it whole again.
At local public courses such as Oak Hills in Norwalk, golfers dutifully stuff the Flower Fund box to keep grounds blooming. At most of the private clubs, the urge for scenic splendor has gone right over the top, with every clubhouse now blushing with molten cataracts of flowers.
Not every golfer is appreciative. I was once standing on a tee at Weston’s Aspetuck Valley Country Club with one of Fairfield’s most esteemed golf authorities. We were there as guests. He was staring hatefully at a basket of pink impatiens. “Don’t get me wrong,” he snarled. “I like flowers. But not on a golf course.”
To his relief, we’ve separated the topics in this issue. Managing editor Diane Sembrot scopes out the flowers, while two nationally known golf scribes tee off on other green matters — John Steinbreder introduces us to two homegrown tour stars, while Don Wade recommends some fine Northeast golf courses.
It’s an exciting season for local golf fanatics, who will be trekking to Westchester County’s Winged Foot in June for the Men’s U.S. Open and to Newport at the end of June for the Women’s Open. These should be lovely events.
And my own golf game is nearly perfect, thanks. People might marvel at Phil Mickelson’s magic with the so-called “flop wedge.” Heck, I can do that with my driver. And you ought to see the tremendous, screaming drives I can hit when I’m trying to advance the ball twelve feet out of a bunker. Others might call it hopeless hacking, but I call it raw talent.
Very, very raw talent.