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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Desperation Golf

by Rob Lundgren

Some may call it “desperation golf,” but I think “inversion insanity” is more on the mark.

Two hours south - no snow (but 20 degrees)
Two hours south – no snow (but 20 degrees)

After being house-bound for over three weeks thanks to our annual winter inversion in the Treasure Valley here in the Boise area, my golfing buds and I decided enough was enough. (Actually, our wives may have had something to do with that decision.) Not content to merely practice putting on the living room carpet, I took out my wedge to try more challenging shots. However, it was one chip too many for me as an errant shot plopped into the chili pot my wife was fixing for a warm winter supper.

“Go” is all she said, and that was enough.

We quickly conducted exhausti ve searches of golf courses that might be open within a 200-mile radius of our homes in Meridian, Idaho, and came up with a grand total of two. The closest was Clear Lake Country Club located near Buhl, a mere 130 miles from our front doors.

The course, which is near the Snake River, apparently has its own micro-climate and had been relatively snow-free all during December. More importantly, it was safely out of the inversion zone where cold air lingers all day long and prevents the snow we had on our own course from melting.

Rob's home course, Lakeview Golf Club under snow
Rob’s home course, Lakeview Golf Club under snow

So one Sunday morning in late December three of us loaded up our clubs and what seemed like winter survival gear into the back of an SUV and headed south to Clear Lake. We arrived without a hitch despite the fact that Bill, our driver, admitted he wasn’t sure how to get to the course. As we passed Clear Lake Foods, the world’s largest trout farm, our anticipation grew despite the unexpected foggy and inversion-like conditions.

It was a bone-chilling 18 degrees when we pulled into the parking lot.

“Do you think we should just go back home?” asked Dave as he pulled on another sweatshirt. Bill nodded in agreement while adjusting his snow pants. I thought no way, we’d come this far and we needed to see it through. Besides I wasn’t sure my wife was over the chili pot episode.

I won out and we loaded up our golf carts, dressed more for skiing or snowmobiling than golf. What surprised us the most was that we were third in line off the first tee. So we weren’t the only insane ones.

Playing partner Bill Precht layers up for the cold weather
Playing partner Bill Precht layers up for the cold weather

Decked out in thermal underwear, vest, hooded sweatshirt, and my aviator hat complete with earflaps, I plodded to the tee box, tried to hammer a tee into the frozen tundra with my gloved hands, and hit my drive a whopping 25 yards. Fortunately, things got better in a hurry.

By the time we hit the third hole, the sun was out, the temperature had warmed up 15 degrees, and my drives took on a semblance of normalcy.

No, we didn’t play well that day. In fact none of us even broke 90. We lost more than one ball in the snow fields that still dotted the course, and even a couple in the river. But we did manage a few pars. And, most importantly, we had fun – a lot of fun. It was one of my best winter golfing experiences ever.

When we left in mid-afternoon the temperature had zoomed up into the low 40s and there were at least two dozen cars in the parking lot.

Who’s crazy now, I thought, as we headed home, our desperation abated – for now.

Rob Lundgren is a frequent contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, and a frequenter of golf courses under any weather conditions.