Extra Points Column: Return to Golf was Par for Course
For those who urged me to "hit 'em straight" at Cape May National Golf Club Saturday, you'll be happy to know I did just that.
Just to give you an idea of how my round went, my first shot was my best shot. My drive on the Par 4 first hole flew and rolled up the middle of the fairway, setting me up for a 125-yard approach shot.
Seven shots later, I plucked the ball out of the cup.
Who said it never snows in May?
It didn't get much better after that. It was pretty much all downhill, even on the holes with elevated greens. Duffs, hooks and slices were plentiful. My second shot on the par 5 fourth landed in the pond, startling the swan that had been living in peaceful solitude since the course was closed about six weeks ago. A third shot on the Par 5 10th rolled past a half dozen turtles who were sunning themselves on a muddy bank.
There was a bald eagle perched in a tree leading up to the Par 3. That's one more eagle, actually one more birdie, than I saw all day.
Yet, my smile never faded.
Just to be playing golf again was fun, regardless of the numbers on the scorecard.
It marked my first round since March 9. One week later, Cape May and the other courses in the state were shut down to guard against possible spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Personally, I thought it made no sense. Assuming course owners took the proper precautions and players followed the recommendations as far as social distancing, being outdoors is great medicine for physical and mental health.
Once the courses shut down, I was left to hone my game with chip shots over the hedges into my neighbor's back yard while waiting for Governor Murphy to ease the restrictions.
I got a call from my buddy Tom Shagren on Thursday that the Cape National was reopening, and that he had made a 9:52 tee time for Saturday. Ten minutes later, I was cleaning my bag and grips with Lysol wipes, then did the same with my push cart.
I arrived at 9:20 to a surreal scene. The parking lot was as crowded as a Saturday morning in July. The pro shop and clubhouse were closed, leaving non-members to pay through a walk-up window. Other players, some wearing masks, milled about waiting for their tee time. Times were spaced around 15 minutes apart to encourage social distancing. Tom and I didn't see another group for most of the round.
I didn't wear a mask. The only time I don one is going to grab a coffee at Wawa or when picking up dinner from a local restaurant such as Red Brick Ale House, Mike's Bayshore Cafe, Fish & Fancy, or Rusty Nail - Chef Jimmy Burton's Friday Fried Chicken dinner with collard greens and mac-and-cheese takes me back to my college days at Appalachian State - and our Sunday ice cream from Dry Dock.
Yeah, I've put on a few pounds.
I don't wear one while bike riding, running or even mowing the lawn because I firmly believe breathing in that salt air from the ocean is nature's remedy. But hey, whatever floats your boat - boating is allowed, right?
My smile faded on Sunday, despite the warm, sunny weather that prompted me to shed my sweatshirt for a tee-shirt and sneaks for flip flops.
Sunday was our youngest grandson Graham's second birthday. Instead of joining dozens of friends and relatives for a party, Karen and I were reduced to sitting in our car, handing presents through the window and chatting for a hour or so while Graham, his 4-year-old brother Hampton, and his parents sat about 10 feet away on their front porch.
A little later, we sang "Happy Birthday" via Zoom as he blew out the candles on his Elmo-themed cake.
I've read and heard about various explanations as to what caused a virus that has turned our lives topsy-turvy.
I have my own theory.
Having watched "Tiger King," I'm convinced this is Carole Baskin's fault.