Getting Back to Basic Bogies

By: Bob Spiwak

It is March. Rotten snows, mud, and promises of spring that are periodically broken. A few various brave birds will be returning, and flowers will begin to pop up through the bare ground.

Popping up also, like time-lapse mushrooms, will be golf course openings. Beginning in the Tri-Cities they spread north, east and west and beckon local golfers.

This was also the time of year I took the almost annual trip to the golf writers’ convention in South Carolina, five days of primo golf capped off with at least a day at the Masters tournament, and returning to the Methow with a spring in my step and high hopes of hitting the ball straight. It signaled “back to work,” as there were tournaments to cover locally, openings of new courses in the Northwest and if the comps were there, well beyond.

I am coming off an almost three-year retirement from the game after half a century of chasing the little ball all over the U.S. and beyond its borders. The retirement came at the lovely nine-hole course at Bridgeport where, just for a change, Mary Rea and I played with only two clubs and a putter. As I have mentioned too many times, I had two epiphanies that day: First, that I played just about as well (or badly – it’s all relative) with three clubs as the usual 14. Second, that this is really a large waste of time and money, and all I had to show for 50 years of effort were two epiphanies.

That of course was not true. I have been fortunate to have met others pursuing the game who are fine people indeed. I have rubbed elbows with some of golfdom’s greats because they refused to shake my hand. I have been nodded at by a former president of the nation, had coffee with Oprah’s honey.

All that is fine and memorable, but in the end, it was the locals with whom I have played over the years that made the game most enjoyable. Especially the late Warren Badger, mayor of Winthrop, whose one-liners are still quoted on the course more than a decade after his death.

And in this past three years I have felt a growing absence of something in my life, and just came to realize it is golf and its minions that have been missing. So I have again taken up the sticks, and just know that my handicap will be in single digits this year.

Watch out, and have lots of money with you if we play.

This article originally appeared in the March 3, 2004, Methow Valley News.

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though recently suffering a three-year lapse, he’s been a fanatical golfer ever since. Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world, although few have been published (not true). Bob’s most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultraprivate Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.