Is This Idea So Crazy That It Just Might Work?

Not long ago, I received a promotional email from a golf course my friends and I have often played during the winter, called Lyman Orchards. That got my hopes up—but the email wasn’t an announcement that the course had re-opened; it was an invitation to celebrate “National Pie Day” with “a Free 6-inch Pie.” And the pie wasn’t really even free, since you had to buy twenty-five dollars’ worth of other crap in order to get it. And then the weather turned almost vengeful: driving rain and sub-freezing temperatures. And then we got snow.

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I’ve been passing this golf-free period by working—or “working”—and, when I think of it, throwing birdseed onto the hill outside my back door. And one day I noticed something interesting: the birds, with all their frenzied wing-flapping and hopping-around as they pushed and shoved each other to get at the seed, had cleared almost all the snow from the area where I’d been feeding them:

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That made me wonder: could bird power be harnessed to keep golf courses open during the winter? Spread birdseed with crop-dusting planes, which can’t have anything better to do until spring, and let birds take it from there? Fairways and greens only, to keep costs down? I don’t know; I’m not an ornithologist. But let’s try it.

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When my wife was in third grade, her Brownie leader didn’t believe her when she said there was a bird with “tit” in its name, but my wife was right, and the photo above is proof. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, on a day when there was no functioning golf course within a hundred miles of where we live, the Sunday Morning Group went out to dinner, at a sports bar called 1st and 10.

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Hacker (real name) ordered something that isn’t on the menu anymore but that the chef will make for you if you know to ask for it:

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It’s two hot dogs split the long way and wrapped in a tortilla with chili, bacon, cheese, and some other stuff, then dipped in batter and deep-fried—and it comes with fries. I asked our waitress why it wasn’t still on the menu, and she said they took it off because no one but Hacker had ever ordered it.

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Quite a few guys showed up that night. One who didn’t was Stanley. The day before, he had reported, by email: “Had a golfer’s knee installed on Monday. Now rehabbing. Legs the same length.” Hacker visited him a couple of days later:

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Golfers who have knee replacements often figure they ought to get more handicap strokes. But shouldn’t they actually lose strokes, to make up for how much better they feel? When I suggested that to the group, Stanley disagreed. “I have no doubt that the U.S.G.A. will soon ban this device,” he wrote from the rehab center. “However, my knee was installed prior to the change and is therefore grandfathered.” We’ll see.

The other thing we’ve been doing this winter is working on our relationship with our first (and, so far, only) official sponsor: Jagermeister. Our sweatshirts are at the embroidery shop right now, because we’re having our names and some other stuff added to them. Even so, we’ve had a measurable impact on sales. A bridge partner of mine in Mississippi, who doesn’t play golf but does read my blog, wrote to say that he is seriously thinking about buying a bottle. And Other Gene’s wife, Diana, recently ordered some in a restaurant.

Just the beginning, my friend. Just the beginning.

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6 thoughts on “Is This Idea So Crazy That It Just Might Work?

  1. A couple of years ago, after another long winter here in Vermont, there was some very stubborn ice on one of our greens. Our greenkeeper went out a bought a bunch of black sunflower seeds. He then spread these out over the icy green. The seeds acted as mini solar collectors, melting the stubborn ice. I thought that was extremely clever! Plus various birds found the buffet an easy feast. Although I did not see the Tufted titmouse
    enjoying the sunflower seeds.

    • Very cool idea. And sunflower seeds would be much easier to haul than black sand, which our own superintendent just bought a load of. And now we’re supposed to be hit by a storm that’s going to bury golf courses around here for weeks.

  2. David, after the ice melted, the sun flower seeds stayed put, warming the green. The green being in a shady spot, began growing sooner than usual. When it was time to mow the green, the seeds had no effect on the mowers.

    Sorry to see the storm will be hitting you folks hard. I feel your pain.

    PS-you have a standing invite to come to Vermont and play at my course here in Vermont. I will do my best to keep up with you.

    • Amazingly, the birds have cleared that same space outside my backdoor again, even though we had six more inches of snow yesterday. They’ll have their wings full with the coming blizzard, though. We probably ought to head up to Vermont right now, to be on the save side. We played Spyglass on a simulator this morning, but it wasn’t the same.

  3. David, I have been following your blog and always enjoy your stories. I just clicked on the link for 1st and 10 and was surprised it is in New Milford. I have a vendor (Vision Eng.) who is in New Milford, CT. I am always amazed how golf leads us to so many connections in life.

    • We played at Candlewood Valley, just down Rt. 7 from 1st & 10, a couple of times earlier this winter, before the weather turned VENGEFUL. And on Sunday we played on the simulators at Maggie McFly’s, in Brookfield. I don’t think we’re going to be playing golf outside for a while, I’m afraid. But we have talked to the people at 1st & 10 about renting their party room.

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