Spring always brings out the flowers, the showers, and the swingers

COLUMN: Ponoka News' Hammertime looks at spring time and the fun history of golf.

I have never been much of a golfer, possessing a wild cross-handed swing and a terrible hook,but because I grew up on Riverside Drive next to the ‘perfectly natural’ Ponoka Community GolfCourse, we did get out for lots of ‘whack around’ sessions with an ancient old set of dad’swooden clubs.

Just like it will always be each and every spring when the snow finally goes away, the golffanatics of all ages will soon be vigorously invading the courses, shaking the creaks and cob-webs out of their best ‘swing and sway’, and then heading back to the friendly clubhouse todiscuss new clubs and strategies that just might cut a few strokes off your 2017 score-card andmaybe even win a round or two with their buddies, either out on the course or back at the 19thhole?

Our seasonal game of golf in Canada can be played by all ages from the duffers to the lowesthandicappers, and the overwhelming growth and popularity of this keen spring-to-fall outdoorcasual sport has rewarded close to two million avid participants with over 2,400 unique coursesin Canada (280 or so in our magnificent Alberta). Whatever the case, get ready to book your tee-time early, then get out and have lots of great games from tee to green on the fairway or in thetrees, and then relax and gather to celebrate after, no matter what your score may have been.

How about a little golf trivia and fun

The history books tell us that the most humble beginnings of our great game of golf likelyoccurred late in the 12th century when the Dutch got together to hit a leather feather-filled ballwith a stick at a target several hundred yards away. It would be the one who got to the targetwith the least strokes that was declared the winner, and then the whole gang would likely headfor the Old Wooden Shoe Bar and Grill for a few pints.

A few hundred years later it was declared that the Scottish had indeed invented a modern newgame called golf, but the first official set of rules was not written until 1744, and some are still ineffect on the ‘old courses.’ It was in that era that Mary Queen of Scots was once accused ofplaying a game of golf, a sport that was considered unsuitable for women and was later bannedas an unprofitable sport. At one time the town council of Edinburgh in Scotland officially declaredgolf as a game that should not be played on the Sabbath. During the 19th century golfing boomthe old feather-filled leather ball was replaced by a real hard one made out of gutta-percha,whatever that was, and in 1922 in Florida they actually tried training young elephants to becomecaddies.

Simple four-step golf instruction: Swing, occasionally swear, look for the ball, then take adeep breath and repeat again. If all else fails the ‘beer cart’ is just over the next hill.

Every golfer’s prayer: May thy ball lie down in green pastures and not in still waters. Totalpanic out on the golf course is that moment when you see your boss out on the fairway just afteryou phoned in sick.

I was one under today. One under a tree, one in the bush, and one in the water. Best golfcourse signs: You are 150 yards from the centre of the green and 175 yards from a veryexpensive $200 plate glass window, so please choose your clubs carefully. If your ball has landedhere you are now 87 yards off line…golf instructions are available at our Club House.

Golf’s all-time greatest quotes: ‘If I’m on the golf course and lightning starts I get insidefast. If God wants to play through just let him.’ (Bob Hope). Two senior buddies out golfing, ‘Boydid I hit that ball hard, but my old eyes aren’t what they used to be…did you see where it went?’‘Yes I did, but now I can’t remember.’ Husband and wife enjoying a round out on the coursetogether today when she politely apologizes…‘I’m so sorry dear but I lost the ball in that littlehole AGAIN.’ Please get out and enjoy whatever game and activity you wish this spring andsummer, take some family and friends along for the fun, and have a great and hopefully warmerweek, all of you.