February Fever

   There is, they tell us, the scientists tell us, in the lack of sunshine and long winter days, a dearth of necessary hormones generated by the nervous system. Scant exposure to sunlight deprives the functioning nervous system of endorphins or melatonin or something. Anyway, it all adds up to a certain madness of long enforced indoor imprisonment that has been labelled cabin fever. For the hickory golfer, there is the added deprivation of golf, compounding the garden variety cabin fever into something vaguely sinister. Clubs sit idly, rusting, or so it seems. The golfer is certainly rusting, and this not seemingly, but alarmingly real.
   My clubs lie nearby, in their carry bag, on its side under a light coat of dust. They are as silent as the icicles swelling to deadly proportions outside. In fact, the whole of the outdoors is ready to deal a cold death, within minutes, to the unprepared. This is a hard place for a golfing soul, an icy hell as real as any Dante encountered on that last phantasmic level.
   Yet, some hope, some touch of spring is just near. It must be so, the cabin fever cannot hold.
   From a nearby rack, a Braid approaching cleek comes to hand. It fits the fingers nicely, the grip accommodating, the heft and weight agreeable. How it swings in the hands. How it longs for… longs for? The memory struggles for long past summer days.
   Perusing old golf magazines I came upon an advertisement for this same Braid approaching cleek. The great triumverate veteran lauded its virtues in words that spoke of an “extra solid touch” for shots that need be “most gently played”. The club, it was said, by the master, would “gauge strength and distance to the utmost nicety.”
   It is something to be reassured this deep in winter’s grip, of extra solid touches around the green when shots need gentle touches and nice judgement. For now, it will be left to the imagination as, for the second time this day, the drive must be shoveled and the walk salted lest the approaching post man be ungently played by an icy surface. He seems, though, to be an expert at judging his surfaces these days. I see him gauging strength and distance on snowy sidewalks to an utmost nicety as he makes his way through knee-deep drifts, negotiating frozen ruts and bumps.
   The cleek will wait, as will the jigger and mashie for their turn upon the landscape. Now is the world of shovel and broad iron blade never meant for approaches, but for clearance, to reclaim the necessity for access, for movement. On the golf course, the architect has already taken care of access. His work there precedes mine own, showing me the way to, safely, reach my goal.
   February may lock up all in aching silence, but there is still a sense of the coming explosion of life. I can sense it deep within the trees that crowd the banks of the creek where I daily walk, the golden retriever bouncing dizzily along. Despite the sheets of ice that spread above it, the flowing, gurgling stream echoes the dog’s enthusiasm, a swift reminder of the coming deluge of spring.
   So does the game course through the northern golfer’s soul, running sure despite the outer frost. It too will burst forth in time, searching par and bogey with confident companions over the wide and verdant fields. And the more ardent will the northern golfer play knowing that summer’s lease, indeed, hath all too short a date.