This past Tuesday, to celebrate the summer solstice, eight friends and I played golf from shortly after it was light enough to see until shortly before it was too dark to go on. I’ll have a report in the September Golf Digest, which will go on sale in a little over a month. In the meantime, I can tell you that we were extraordinarily lucky with the weather. It was cloudy and breezy all day, and the temperature never got above 70. If we’d played on the actual solstice (one day later) or on the day after that, we’d have had to cope with bright sun, high humidity, and temperatures in the upper 90s. As it was, I never felt uncomfortably warm, although I did drink extraordinary volumes of coffee, water, and Diet Coke.
Twelve years ago, on assignment for Golf Digest, I played golf all day at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa with Jim McLean, the famous teacher. We were raising money for junior golf, and I managed to play 136 holes in 11 hours—a few more than my friends and I managed on Tuesday. But McLean and I had carts (one each), and the resort’s maintenance staff had disabled their governors, giving them a top speed of more than 40 miles an hour. The best Doral course for hammer-down ball-chasing turned out to be the Great White, where the fairways are flanked by vast waste areas filled with crushed and compacted coquina shells—an ideal surface for Le Mans-style over-steering. The White course also has steeply banked turns along the edges of its water hazards, as well as palm trees spaced like slalom gates.
That was fun, of course, but what we did was almost as much like go-cart racing as it was like golf, and McLean and I were so busy hot-rodding around that we never managed to have more than fragments of a conversation. My friends and I didn’t want to our day to be like that.
Everyone played both fast and well—no surprise to me, since I’m convinced that non-dawdling forces even mediocre golfers to adopt beneficial habits. Fast players never get bogged down on mechanics, because they don’t have time for swing thoughts. They pick a target and whack their ball, and they don’t fret about how many knuckles were visible on their left hand. And when fast golfers have bad holes they forget them immediately, just as Bob Rotella says successful competitors must, because they have to get to the next tee. They don’t have time to piss and moan, or rehearse their pivot, or take practice swings, or brood about their yardage, or ask a playing partner to monitor the position of their left buttock. Time’s a-wastin’!
Incidentally, my friends and I also played on the winter solstice—as you can see here:
Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure we played on the equinoxes, too.