Thoughts on a new season of golf in 2024

I don't know about you, but every September or so I just seem to "lose" my golf swing. Late July and August bring the best rounds of the year, where, at least in spirit, I challenge my personal best on a weekly basis. And then, like clockwork, the first couple weeks of September hit and BAM — it's like I've never held a club in my life.

Perhaps it's because I am a grinder, or maybe it's because I'm reverting back to the mean, but it happens every year. Maybe I'm thinking too much about my swing? Or maybe I haven't been thinking enough about my swing, and even the basic mechanical inputs have been deleted from my system's memory altogether.

This is usually the time in when I start ducking out of rounds with my regular foursome, telling them I'll play next weekend or when I have more time. In reality, this is when I start targeting my final round of the year. It's usually some kind of Greenskeeper's Revenge or a one-club tournament; a round where scores can be blamed on environmental context instead of the endless string of toe chunks produced by my five iron.

And then, as the rain and cold come, I put the clubs by the door. I tease them into thinking they might, just maybe, see a blade of grass in January. But I don't go. It's not because of the weather, and it's not because available daylight is scant. Instead, it's for a much more embarrassing fact — I just don't have it. Nevertheless, they stay right by the front door, where they can sense fresh air wisping across them.

I never do work up the nerve to tell them they aren't going anywhere for quite some time.

But springtime is here in Portland, and there have been several 70° days in succession where golf has seemed perhaps the only logical choice. In short order, months without a full 18 have turned into days with far more than that. I've spent with Jared Lambert at Astoria Golf & Country Club, experiencing one of the true gems across the entirety of the Beaver State. Then there was 36 holes last week at Wildwood Golf Course, where after the first round it just didn't feel like quite enough for our threesome.

And no, my swing has not much improved over the four month break it was given. It tempered itself, and the toe chunks are gone (thank goodness). But the same faults are there. Yet what has changed is the attitude, and the outlook, of myself and perhaps every golfer I play with. That is, that this season could be different. At any time, the tumbler could seal its final pin and we may unlock the very thing that has been keeping us from true greatness.

That feeling, my friends, is what keeps us coming back. It's what makes every spring my favorite time of the year: when the mornings are cool and the back nine is hot; the details can be worked out over time; the good shots are weighed in happy excitement far above the bad.

Has much changed since last September? Not at all. But the promise of each golf season is that it will replace the memory of the end of the last.

Golf is funny that way.

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