Everyone agrees that you can’t change the weather by worrying about it. Shouldn’t it follow, then, that you can change the weather by not worrying about it? I tested this concept on a Saturday six years ago. The sky was growing dark, so, in the hope of diverting the approaching thunderstorm, I purposely didn’t check the Weather Channel or become agitated before heading to the golf course.
Well, it didn’t work. As Hacker (real name), Ray, Tony, and I were getting ready to tee off, Fran, our pro, came out of the golf shop and said, “When I blow the horn, come straight in. There’s a huge cell heading for us.”
The thunder began as we were putting out on five, and moderately heavy rain was falling by the time we got back to the clubhouse. Ray went inside to estimate how quickly the angry green-and-orange amoeba was moving across the radar screen.
“About an hour,” he said when he came back. Hacker and I keep decks of cards in our glove compartments. The four of us sat at a table on the clubhouse porch and played setback, while water overflowed the gutters. I used to belong to a golf club where the old guys played setback all winter. The pro would knock on the card-room door in early April, to let them know it was spring.
We could still hear thunder after an hour, so we all went home. I stomped around the house for a while—“Hey, look! I’m not playing golf!”—then took a nap, which I had been planning to do anyway. When I woke up, I checked my computer: the last of the angry amoeba was almost east of us. I started e-mailing people.
E-mail is the most important golf-related discovery since the sand wedge, because, unlike the telephone, it lets you set up a golf game without anybody’s wife catching on until it’s too late. Tony and I met on the first tee at 4:00, and we had the place to ourselves for five or six holes. The sun came out. We watched swallows skimming the fairways, gorging on mosquitoes. We listened to the trees shaking themselves dry in the breeze: rain’s echo.
And then it was just like the hour after a rainstorm when you were a kid: in ones and twos and threes, our friends came back out to play. As Tony and I walked to the eighth tee, we passed Gillen and Tim, on the second green. Tim was saying, “We putted pretty well, but we didn’t sink anything over ten or twelve feet, and to do well in a scramble you have to sink long ones”—today’s version of the permanent conversation, resuming after a lightning delay. Gene and Nick and Frank were a hole behind them. Mike joined Tony and me on fourteen, by way of the range.
I ended up playing twenty-seven holes—nine more than I would have played if it hadn’t rained. Maybe not worrying works, after all.