Golf As We Know It – In Montana

By TODD WOLVERTON

As I write these words, it is 22 degrees outside. There is still snow on the valley floor but it hasn’t snowed for 3 days. It has been a long, hard winter though; far longer and harder than I expected. It’s only supposed to be 40 degrees today, yet I cannot get my mind off of 1 thing,

“I wonder when the driving range will open?”

It’s really a sickness that I have. Incurable I’m afraid. I’m a golfer! Worse than that, I’m a Montana golfer.

Montana golfers are truly a tortured bunch. We love our golf, but get about 6 months to enjoy it before we have to go into hibernation. It’s been a bit of an endurance test these past 6 months. Last year at this time I had already played a couple of rounds, albeit in Lewiston, ID, the driving range was open at Larchmont and I was beginning to work on my swing.

Not so this year. There were far too many inches of snow to shovel and too many snow days to endure. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of things to keep me busy.

First there were the holidays. I love the holidays and the distraction they provide. First up is Halloween when I get to embarrass myself by being dressed up by my wife in some costume I would never dream of wearing.

Next, we get to travel to see family and count our blessings at Thanksgiving. “Thank you God for allowing me to hit a 75 and keep my diluted dream alive of playing professional golf”.

Christmas brings about a time for planning. “What I really need to take my game to the next level is one of the new Nike Method putters. What do you know? It’s on sale. It must be a sign.”

Finally, there’s New Years and it’s opportunity to make resolutions for the new year. This year, my New Year’s resolution is to play more golf! Ok, so I’ve had the same resolution for the past 20 years, it’s the only resolution I have ever been able to keep. I was doing really well…then came January.

Since the end of the holidays, it has been far harder to take my mind off the game. I did the typical things to keep me occupied. I read golf magazines, did stretching and strengthening exercises and went to the golf simulator (did you know that golf USA has a golf simulator?), but if I’m honest, The Golf Channel has been my best friend.

First it was “12 days at the Academy”. I recorded and watched every episode intently to picking out each nugget of wisdom that might help improve my game.

Next it was the beginning of the PGA tour. I recorded and watched each tour stop trying to pick up any little bit of insight just in case I ever did get my shot on tour. I lived vicariously through each shot; imagining myself being there.

I even watched “Pipe Dream”; a reality show on the Golf Channel about a homeless man trying to make it to the Senior Tour. I laughed. I cried. I watched. I became concerned. What was happening to me? I was losing my mind.

Before I knew it, it was Valentine’s day. I took my wife to the Ranch Club restaurant. If I couldn’t play there, I could eat there. It was awesome.

I had managed to survive the past 5 months with my sanity barely intact. Then the snow started to melt. There was grass poking through in my yard. Then it started to get green. Suddenly a smile began to appear on my face. A glimmer of hope had been delivered from above. Then it snowed again.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Curse you God above. How could you tease me this way?”

It is now March and though the range is not open yet, there are telltale signs that golf is near. I walk my dogs from time to time on the fairways of the University Golf Course.

The other day, as we walked, I could begin to see the course through the snow. It had melted enough to make out the outlines of the fairways, greens and tee boxes. I actually took an imaginary swing. I’ve got to tell you, it feltgreat.

Today, my dog Brinkley and I walked the course again and you won’t believe what we found. Check the video below to see.

It’s time to clean the clubs and put them in the cab of the truck because soon enough, golf will return to Missoula and all will be right in the world again. So, I did. It won’t be long now. Soon enough the long winter will be a thing of the past. Maybe I will see you at the driving range. If not……

I’ll see you on the tee box!

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Todd Wolverton was born in Missoula and is a UM class of ‘88 alum. Todd and has been an avid golfer for over 40 years, but make no mistake, he’s no pro. He’s just a guy on the course yelling “fore”. Todd is the first to tell you he has his good days and his bad – more bad than good – but to him there are no bad days that include golf. Yes, Todd loves to tell stories and right here is where you will hear them–on a weekly basis. You can expect stories about his latest round, stuff he knows or thinks he knows, and interesting anecdotes about the the past and the present in the world of golf as he knows it…….Missoula areagolf!