I’m in northwestern England playing golf this week. I didn’t bring an umbrella, and I’m glad I didn’t, even though there’s rain in the forecast for every day from now until the end of time. The trash can on the second tee on almost any links course in England, Scotland, and Ireland often looks like the trash can in the photo above, because American golfers typically come to the British Isles prepared for the rain but not for the wind. One hole is usually enough to destroy almost any umbrella. And carrying a “wind-proof” model isn’t the solution, because if your umbrella can’t be turned inside out it will carry you to sea, assuming you’re strong enough to hang on. Here’s why:
The wind was blowing hard yesterday, but the trees in the photo above look that way on calm days, too. Even scrubby little bushes get squashed in the direction of the prevailing wind. (I first wrote about the terrific golf courses of northwestern England almost twenty years ago. The opening sentence of my article was “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.” A Golf Digest copy editor, who apparently had never heard of Bob Dylan, changed “weatherman” to “weather report”—and that’s the way it ran.)
Not carrying an umbrella will lighten your luggage by a couple of pounds, and it will spare you a lot of annoying housekeeping while you play. And you won’t miss it at all, if you have a rain suit, a rain hat, and a pair of rain gloves. The rain gloves are especially important, because if you have a pair of those you won’t need to even think about trying to keep your grips dry. In fact, if you have rain gloves you almost don’t need to carry a towel. And after my first trip to Scotland, in the early nineties, I stopped carrying an umbrella at home, too. Way too much trouble!