All the big tournaments are over now. The club championship has been decided. The kids who worked in the golf shop all summer are back at school. Our Enemy Club has been defeated. The deer eating acorns between the fifth and sixth holes have grown so used to us that they scarcely look up when we play through. The International Leaf Rule is in effect.
I know people who live in places where golf can be played in shorts year-round. To them, the cycle of the seasons is a kind of poverty. But I think they are the ones who are deprived. For them, golf has no beginning and no end. They don’t get to savor a year’s two most consequential rounds: its first and its last. One season blends into the next, and they never reach a point from which they are forced to assess their golf game’s progress or decline.
Hacker (real name) and I had the course to ourselves for our first nine holes on Tuesday afternoon. Barney, who didn’t have to pick up his daughter until four-fifteen, joined us at the turn. We waved to an older member who used to play by himself but now is always accompanied by his son. He uses something called Martini Tees, and when he misplaced one the other day he had his son call the golf shop to report it missing. His son acts as his caddie and navigator, guiding him from hole to hole. Golf is almost over, but not yet.