By Zachary Aland
Golfers love to talk about weather and course conditions. It is a constant conversation at golf courses because the game is outdoors. No regulation golf course was ever built indoors and probably never will in our lifetime. All players must universally contend with unpredictable weather and turf grass conditions (with Hawaii being a possible exception!).
There are indoor football fields, indoor soccer fields and even indoor track fields around the world today. But some sports are too expansive to ever be housed. Hiking, mountain climbing, marathoning, road cycling, triathlons and others fall into this category. Mountain climbers, for example, learn to adapt to different surface conditions caused by rain, wind and the weatherman. They expect the trail to have ups and downs, and many different surface conditions. They accept the trail as wild nature delivers it and embrace all the variations.
During the summer of 2016, the Ogden Utah marathon landed on the most wet and soggy day imaginable. Runners shuttled up Ogden Canyon, some as early at 4:30 a.m. The rain and cold followed runners from the start and did not let up. The participants spent several hours in drenching, cold rain, many of them wearing flimsy hot pants and tank tops. Several were treated for exposure. But, it did not stop the event from happening and did not stop the runners from showing up. In fact, some were even motivated by the elements, hoping the cold would help their muscles endure. Most interestingly, none of them asked for a rain check.
This example demonstrates the commitment these runners have to their sport. It is also meant to illustrate the major role nature plays in outdoor sports. You literally cannot run from it!
But short of lightning and a snow blizzard, a lot of outdoor sports can still be enjoyed with the proper mental and physical preparations.
It is pretty awesome to golf the same acres of grass many times and have a different experience every round. The time of day, the time of year, the air temperature, the precipitation, the position of the sun and so forth, are all dictated by nature. That is the diversity of Mother Nature and her amazing ability to offer us entertaining diversions from the work hours. Reward her by getting a tee time, by breathing fresh air and by connecting to the open space a golf course provides.
Golfers seek shelter during the rare lighting storm, which is prudent, but they should not seek shelter all the other times. It is important not to become spoiled by diligent and immaculate care provided by the golf course maintenance staff. They do their best to straighten some of nature's rough edges. Golfers can do their part too by fixing divots and ball marks and, most importantly, getting outside on the less-than-ideal days.
It’s important golfers don’t lose their connection to the great outdoors in their pursuit of perfect conditions. Golf is an immersive, five-senses experience. Mother Nature ensures the golfer will have a dynamic and different game each time he or she steps onto the tee box. If golfers plan for the variations, as a mountain climber would, they will be prepared for them. Why not embrace the challenge of a dewy green? The hide and seek of autumn leaves? The ball flight challenge of a headwind?
Connecting with the great outdoors means acknowledging Mother Nature’s hand in the game of golf. It’s OK to play around and through natural obstacles, like you would a well-placed sand bunker. Respect Mother Nature, connect with her, compete against her, but please don’t ignore her by staying indoors.
Players who golf in all conditions will ensure they don’t miss the best reward of all — the perfect day with mild temperatures, clear sky, fresh air, cut crass and perfect, rolling greens. Those days can be tough to forecast and even harder to forget if you are lucky enough to book your tee time without regard to the weatherman.
We all qualify as golfers at heart because we all need the great outdoors. Golf is a great excuse to step outside. Conditioning for a 100-mile Iron Man is not required, just a two- to four-hour walk or ride around mowed lawns and chirping birds. It’s usually quite pleasant, unless nature is grumpy. But even then it can still be fun. Remember, you aren’t pleasant to be with 100 percent of the time either, but nature never stays home to avoid you.
Zachary Aland is president and co-owner of Axxion Development LLC, a golf course management company headquartered in Ogden. He has been general manager of Remuda Golf Course and Crane Field Golf and has a business management degree from the University of Utah.