Friday, March 27, 2009

Achieve and Leave

The City of Hartford Mounted Police were at the golf course the other day while Mars and I were busily striking our first set of balls for the season. It should not have surprised us. We were after all playing illegally on a closed facility.

Use of the links is explicitly forbidden by a plastic sign at the parking lot entrance -- positioned so as to be totally obvious to anyone driving into the area but not so as to prohibit admission.

It is a public golf course located in a public park with golf in the middle, and playground, swimming pool, basketball courts, softball field, and paved road/running trail/walking path along the perimeter. Local residents walk their dogs across the fairways. Cacophonous music blasts from oversized speakers located within the trunks of low-rider cars. Hawks fly overhead, attempting to outrun posses of small birds protecting their urban digs.

The course was built in 1930. For many more years than Mars and I have been playing at golf it has been managed and run by a private company. This year that corporation has decided not to renew its contract and so, with the golf season looming on the horizon, the city is in the process of negotiating for a successor.

Until then, in spite of the weather, the course remains officially closed. But, because of the public course's even more public surroundings, its borders cannot be sealed. And on one of the nines, the "North Course" a.k.a. the"Flat Nine" where we play most of our golf, the flags and tee boxes from last year are still standing -- what the law would call an "attractive nuisance".

Mars and I drove by a week ago and noticed players on the course -- some on the part without any flags on the greens. A neighbor of ours, who has probably never even violated a littering law, played there with her "lady friends" a few days before.

This day the weather was in the high fifties and sunny. Had the course been open we would have gone to its driving range to try and reacquaint ourselves with our golf clubs and our golf muscles. Since it wasn't we decided instead to join the ranks of the encroachers and hit a few balls on the fourth and fifth holes of the Flat Nine.

We brought two golf balls apiece. Mars brought her seven iron. I carried my seven and my five. The grass was brown and scraggly. Desiccated goose defecation dotted the ground. Rap music floated through the air. A red-tailed hawk sat atop a leafless tree watching us. The bright sun warmed our backs. We stretched a little bit and hit our first shots of the season. Surprisingly our muscle memory, while it obviously needed some reminding, was largely in tact.

We played the fourth and fifth fairways twice and the fourth one more time -- didn't lose any balls and landed all but one shot in the fairway. A quartet of teenage girl golfers appeared at the third hole. Another group of boys showed up on the first. A father ran across the outfield of the softball diamond unsuccessfully attempting to get his trailing son's kite into the air. And across the street the Mounted Police were mounting.

We put the clubs in the car and drove slowly away, followed by the three blue-uniformed horsemen. As Coach Denise taught us at our Penn State University Golf School Elderhostel, "Achieve and leave."

1 comment:

Bram said...

That sounds awesome. From what I know of golf, the real challenge is all about playing through what nature -- and local legislation -- gives you.