Playing Golf in Florida is great. We don’t have the limitations of not being able to play in the winter months like they do in Maine… but Florida is not the tropical paradise it used to be on the golf course… I mean, January and February can be downright chilly in the mornings.
Now you won’t have difficulty finding your ball in the snow like you would up north! That is why they created those colorful golf balls, by the way, so those die hard golfers in Massachusetts could play in the driving snow. But if you hit the fairways at the crack of dawn like I do, you need to bring a few extra layers of clothing. Because this morning it was 37 degrees when I got to the course. The frost was still pretty thick on the golf cart windshield.
I didn’t have a scraper, so I just drove the front nine with my head out the side. I must admit, though, that my game suffered during those first 9 holes! Each time I went to hit the ball, it felt like I was underwater, because of the resistance of all those layers of clothing.
In fact, at one point, I decided to shed a couple layers and then my shivering was so bad that I sliced my tee shot into the woods. Luckily the snakes don’t come out in the cold, so I was able to find my ball without having to use my snake stick. I remember one year, I had had an especially bad shot into those same woods, and it took me close to half an hour to get my ball out. A really ornery rattler was guarding it, and back then I had not added my snake stick to my club arsenal. I almost left my ball and just tossed another one onto the fairway, but that snake made me mad.
If you are stubborn like I am, no snake is going to make you take 2 penalty strokes. So I hunted for a few sturdy, heavy pine cones, and then tossed them at the rattler from a safe distance, one at a time. At first, it wanted to hold its ground when I tossed a pine cone at it. The second one changed its mind when the pine cone caught it squarely on the top of the head and it rolled like an inner tube about 5 feet back. After that, two more pine cones close enough to catch its attention sent it into the deeper brush, although I did hear it rattle a few more expletives at me along with what sounded like a challenge for me to hit one into the brush on 8, when the course doubles back on the other side of the woods.
This time, the snake was safely cuddled up in its hole, sleeping off the chill, not knowing that I was whacking at a ball on its turf! I probably would have done better taking a couple penalty strokes, though, because my shot caromed off a gnarly pine and shot into the approach to 8 instead of the approach to 5, where I was playing. I managed to get back to the fairway on 5 after 3 strokes, and by then, the frost was starting to melt off my windshield!
Good thing, too, because the squirrels were being a little bolder than usual, since they saw that I was shivering. They’d jump in front of me and my cart then dart back into the nearest tree. They nearly made me fall out of the cart one time, when I was leaning out pretty far, and I was on a slope.
Still, the golfing in Florida has advantages in the cold. I can usually get 18 holes finished before the course begins to fill up with golfers who are finally braving the chill. I can take my time, without worrying about being peppered with golf balls on the par 5’s. And when I get to the 17th hole, the alligator is not budging from the lake, because the water is much warmer than the chilly air.
Don’t worry, I am not one of those vacation salesmen, who will set you up with a room at a resort and a $100 round of golf. I think you should come play our golf courses during the winter (the heat is too wicked during the summer) for a taste of the good life. And make sure you get yourself a good snake stick…