Hope springs anew, 18 holes at a time

The ground is coming to life again, and with it, the hopes of golfers.

There is, after all, something so persistent about the spring. Icy ponds melt, and the fish that hid below all winter can now dare to swim freely in open water. Snow cover recedes, revealing dormant grasses and the first signs of active plant life in the form of snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses. The sun reaches a new apex each day, warming the soil temperatures and encouraging golfers to look hopefully at their local courses during their daily drive-bys.

The rites of spring remind us that even amidst hardship, life renews itself. With economic distress commonplace and recent news filled with tragedies in Africa and Asia, it’s perhaps more comforting than ever to find solace and take refuge in the simple joys of sports. For some, that means baseball, with spring training the first evidence that “wait until next year” could pay off this year. With college basketball, it’s the March (and April) madness of bracketology. And with golfers, it’s the knowledge of The Masters coming up soon, and with it, stunning verdant images and dreams of playing great golf courses.

The turfgrass might differ, but the work rituals repeat themselves across the American landscape. Superintendents throughout the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast join their colleagues in the Midwest and Northwest in hastening preparations for another year of golf. There are tree limbs to pick up, greens covers to remove, and the daily monitoring of turf growth, as well as a watchful eye on the calendar. And as golf pros and club managers join greenkeepers in getting their facilities prepped, golfers phone in, send emails and bug them at coffee shops and grocery store lines with the only question that really counts this time of year: “When are you going to open?”

It is, after all, a game for a lifetime. And for those of us who have spent the bulk of the last few months indoors and bundled up, the sun’s warmth makes possible yet more longings for a chance to get away for a few hours. Renewed hopes are powerful forces. Maybe we can’t change the world. Maybe we can’t bring better news to the airwaves. But for at least a few hours during a round, we can do a few things better and bring some fleeting joy to our lives again through some crisply struck shots and well-played holes.

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