We got 20 inches of snow last weekend. No worries. I can feel golf season just about ready to bust out all over the northern hemisphere.
March Madness is about to tip off, the stores are filled with pastel Peeps and Paas in antipation of Easter, and one of these days (soon I hope) the snow is going to be gone. Winter is getting its last gasps in around here, and it's about time. We've been dreaming about golf for far too long. It's time to get out in the mud and hit some balls!
So with only slight apologies to those of you who live in warmer areas of the world and have been golfing all year, and more heartfelt apologies to those in the southern hemisphere (who are about to enter into autumn), signs of spring are popping up all over around here.
Number Five: On the Clock
Daylight Saving Time returned last weekend, giving some of us more daylight to shovel the snow.
But even as the daylight reflected off that snow, it was easy to tell that something important had changed. As the clocks hit 6:00 Sunday evening, light still filled the windows of my house. It felt like spring, even though my lower back was in near-spasm from throwing shovel load after shovel load of snow out of my drive.
By the way, despite the fact that most of us have called it "Daylight Savings Time" all our lives, it is actually Daylight Saving Time. And we now enjoy about a month more of DST than we did in 2005, except in Hawaii and Arizona where it isn't observed at all.
Number Four: On the Shelves
The golf shop shelves are beginning to bloom. I walked into the local golf megastore the other day and saw the new Scotty Cameron Studio Select putters for the first time. Then I visited my favorite "little" golf shop and found the new Mizuno MP-T wedges (that the megastore did not yet have in their galaxy, go figure). My point is, the new releases are starting to show up.
Nike once again released their latest Sumo (the 5900) in early February, but for the most part new equipment arrives in northern states at much the same rate as molasses in winter. That's sloooowww (if you've never had occasion to pour molasses in winter).
As the new arrivals slowly drift in, it gives those of us who just can't stay out of golf shops a plausible excuse for our behavior. For most of the winter months, the only rationale we can come up with to visit a golf store is to tell ourselves that we're "looking for bargains."
Number Three: Not in John Daly
"Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode." - Dean Wormer, Animal House
Like the toilets at Faber College, every few months John Daly blows up. It's not exactly a portent of spring, but it does seem to be cyclical.
Well, Daly is news again, and, as is unfortunately too often the case with him lately, not for the right reasons.
Earlier this week, Butch Harmon announced that he was quitting as John Daly's swing coach, because he felt the big man's head was not into golf. In fact, he left little question as to where Long John's head is at.
"My whole goal for him was he's got to show me golf is the most important thing in his life," Harmon said. "And the most important thing in his life is getting drunk."
Ouch! But with St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, maybe that is a sign of spring.
Then on Wednesday, Daly apparently misunderstood his starting time (or was told the wrong one) for the pro-am at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He thought it was 9:47, but that was actually his tee time for the first round of the tournament. As a result, he missed his starting time for the pro-am and was disqualified from the tournament by Tour rule.
My question is, where is his agent or handlers? If anyone on tour needs someone at his side to keep him on track, it's Daly.
In his defense, Daly did the right thing and called Palmer to apologize. He was in the tournament on a sponsors exemption, and in addition to hurting himself by messing up his starting time, he also wasted part of that sponsor's investment. An alternate will now fill the opening in the field rather than the choice of the sponsor.
That can't be good PR for Daly who is relying on sponsors exemptions these days. He lost his card two years ago. It's beginning to look like Daly's long dark winter may be a permanent one. A few bad breaks can be chalked up to bad luck, but at some point you just kind of have to wonder if he's a few clubs short of 14.
Number Two: In the Mail
The April issues of Golf Digest and Golf Magazine arrived this week with their previews of the Masters. Is there any surer sign of golf season than the Masters?
I've been watching the Masters since before I even played golf. I remember watching Nicklaus hold off Miller and Weiskopf in 1975 to win his fifth green jacket. Back then, my TV world was black and white and something like 20" diagonal. And I had to actually get up and walk to the TV to change channels! Those were primitive times, indeed.
When Nicklaus won his sixth jacket in 1986, I was waiting tables at a restaurant in Hilton Head. I remember the buzz building on Friday and Saturday. Everyone was watching. Tables were filled with golfers rooting for Jack. Everyone seemed to be pulling for him. We were over 150 miles away, but it felt like we were just outside the gates of Augusta.
Augusta National, with its pines and azaleas, appears year after year on our TVs like a promise… warm weather is coming. We gape at its manicured contours and dream of playing the game we love, even though we know very, very few of us will ever have a chance to play this harbinger of Spring ourselves. It doesn't matter, the Masters tells us that green will soon return to our world.
The arrival of the Masters previews this week is a welcome sign that the Masters, and spring itself, are just around the corner.
And in case you were wondering, both magazines seem to think that this Tiger fellow we've been hearing so much about lately has a pretty good chance of winning.
Number One: On the Calendar
OK, you can't even argue this one. The Vernal Equinox is just a week away.
That means for the next six months there will be as much or more daylight as darkness in every day. With increasing daylight comes warmer temperatures and with warmer temperatures comes the end of snow and beginning of golf season!
And the Vernal Equinox also happens to signal the official start of spring.
Am I a little over the top about wanting the season to start already? Absolutely. I am admittedly OCG. But this has also been a worse winter for many of us than most in recent memory. I know those of you who live farther north than I do still have a ways to go, and I feel for you. But spring is getting ever so close here in Ohio.
The next few weeks of waiting could be the longest of the year.