It’s fall y’all! The days are much shorter now, which means it’s harder to squeeze in a round of golf, but I have some compelling reasons why you summer-only-fair-weather-golfers might want to stick around for a couple more months and give it a shot. So turn off the football game, and get your butt back out onto the golf course!
One of the first things you’ll notice is far fewer people. This is a great thing on several fronts. One of the most maddening things for me on the golf course is waiting on people who are slower than me or my group. This happens WAY too often in the summer. In the fall, you rarely have to wait for the group in front of you, even on a weekend. You will play lightning fast. In early October, I pulled into the parking lot of my club on a Tuesday afternoon and noticed that hardly any cars were in the parking lot. It was a beautiful day – 70 degrees, sunny, and no wind. I grabbed a cart and finished 18 holes in an hour (look for a future post on this topic – The 1 Hour Challenge!). It can certainly be done when the course is empty.
If you really want the course to yourself, head out when at least one of the big college football teams in your state are playing a home game. The course is a ghost town…it’s amazing! If you can’t bear to miss the game, you don’t have to. That’s what your DVR is for…just don’t talk to anyone and keep your phone off until you are up to date on the game. You’ll live, I promise!
Secondly, golf is majestic in the fall because of the crisp, clean air in the mornings and comfortable afternoons. October is ideal for enjoying more time on the golf course. The days are reasonably long and the weather is pretty close to perfect here in Oregon. You don’t have to suffer through a sweltering afternoon or worry about a frost delay. It’s early November now, the sun is setting at 4:50pm today and there is less daylight. It will only get darker and colder and wetter for the next several months, so get out there while you still can!
The true majesty of fall golf is the changing leaves. Isn’t the tree in the photo above gorgeous?! I love how the red pops against the green background of everything around it and how it is reflected in the still and foggy pond in the foreground. Green dewy grass and red, yellow, and orange leaves everywhere – it’s such a wonderful pleasure to enjoy some meditative solitude on the golf course this time of year.
Sometimes it can be tricky finding your ball with all those leaves on the ground, but that’s why there’s a “Leaf Rule”. It’s not in the official rules of golf, but if you and your playing partners agree, the leaf rule can mitigate the problem of fallen leaves and help speed up the game this time of year. Here’s how it works: you hit a shot and it lands somewhere in a bunch of leaves. You know that the ball is here and that it most certainly is not lost. You search and kick leaves around with no luck. How unfair that you must re-hit your last shot AND take a penalty! Instead, you have my permission to invoke the leaf rule. You may drop a ball without penalty nearest the spot where you think your ball came to rest. If you really feel guilty about doing this as I often do, feel free to take a penalty stroke or X out for the hole. Just don’t report me to USGA.
Golf in the fall is naturally more relaxing. In the summertime, you may be trying to get ready for your member-guest tournament or the club championship or some other event looming in the future. In the fall there isn’t much to look forward to, other than 6 months of sweating inside your rain gear, frost delays, temporary greens, darkness, and a lot less golf (can’t you tell I just love winter!). I find I put less pressure on myself to play and score well. You may even notice that your scores are better in the off-season for this very reason. Your expectations are lower, and your reactions to bad shots and missed putts are more muted.
Dare I say golf in the fall is my favorite time of year to get out and play! I hope this post encourages you to play more golf this fall. Thanks for reading my blog and hit ’em straight!