By Stefan Gestwicki
Star Contributing Writer
When I first started playing golf five years ago, I used to play solo rounds all the time. There were several reasons for that.
First and foremost, I wanted to improve my skills. Having always been a good athlete, it was driving me crazy that I wasn’t immediately able to hit the ball like the other guys I played with. You know, the guys that had been golfing for 20+ years. That’s a fair comparison, right? Either way, it was motivation to go out there and work on some things – notable my short game.
The other reason I used to play solo so often was that I just really enjoyed it. At the time I was working a goofy 5 p.m. to about 1 a.m. shift. It was terrible for my social life, but great for playing golf during the day. I’d never use a cart back then, either, so I’d get to play golf, enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise. Plus there was no one else there to witness my embarrassing shots – that was back when I didn’t know that everyone has shots like that sometimes.
A job change and an increase in the number of “golfing buddies” I had helped put an end to the solo golf portion of my life. My cousin Nick went solo several times this year, but this is also just his first full season as a golfer, so he’s exactly where I was back then. As for me, I never really felt the urge to play by myself.
Until this week.
Nick changed jobs and was training on first shift. I had the day off. My newborn son had just eaten and passed out. I needed a round of golf to write about for this article. It was the perfect storm for a round of solo golf. Oh, and don’t worry, my wife was home with our son. I’m not THAT addicted to golf.
So despite fairly heavy rains overnight, I went out to Hillview Golf Course in Fredonia to play a quick nine. Kathy, the extremely sweet owner, was in the clubhouse and let me know they were aerating the greens, but that didn’t really bother me. I wasn’t there to shoot the round of my life or anything. I just went in knowing that I shouldn’t take putts too seriously. No problem.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed playing alone…for about five holes. Nothing dramatic changed after that. I actually played quite well, shooting a 43 for the day despite some extra putts from the aerated greens. It just got, frankly, boring. There was no one to laugh with. No one to shoot the breeze with. As much as I love the physical game of golf, the companionship is absolutely part of the appeal.
Also, I’m now a rural mail carrier for the USPS. All I do all day is drive around by myself. It’s not exactly what I want to do in my leisure time.
That said, I’m glad I went out. It’ll actually help me better appreciate the next time that Nick (or Matt, Chris, Uncle Eddie, etc.) and I are able to tee it up together.
I’ll end with a little bit of trivia. Do you know why it’s necessary for golf courses to aerate their greens? If you’ve played enough golf, you’ve probably seen the rows of holes punched into the once-pristine surface of the green. You might have even been frustrated trying to play on that green, not knowing what’s going on. Well, it’s probably simpler than you think. It’s just a matter of letting the roots of the grass “breathe.” The soil gets very compact in these areas and the aeration is a necessary step in keeping the grass alive. That’s my understanding of it anyway. If you have more information, please pass it along.
We’re getting into the middle of October already, but don’t put those clubs in the basement quite yet. I’m sure we’ll get a couple more bonus days and when those happen, you’ll want to take advantage of them. I know I will.
Until then, golf is great. Go get some.