Sugar Creek, Waukee, IA
I reintroduced golf into my life on the municipal courses of Rochester, Minnesota. During the two months of summer bracketing each side the research year of my fellowship, I took every occasion to go out an hit a bucket of balls well into the night -the sun sets very late if hardly at all during the summers, just like in Iceland and Alaska. The courses were affordable, and well kept. The triplet of Rochester’s muni’s – Northern Hills, Soldier’s Field, and Eastwood -reawakened my golfly passions.
Range, Sugar Creek
When we moved back to New York, it was much harder to golf, but I soon found the jewel of muni’s -Van Cortlandt Golf Course. Situated in the Bronx, it is the oldest municipal golf course in the nation. I also found out that during the summers, when the sun rose before the first tee times of 6am, I could call ahead and ask if I could shoot out even a bit before daybreak. I would tee it up in the dark, during the twilight before dawn when everything was murky shades of purple and black. I discovered that the flinty sand of the Bronx, the residua of glaciers from the past Ice Age, would spark when struck with a titanium driver.
When I moved to Des Moines, I sought out the muni’s, and I found some gems. Sugar Creek in Waukee is only minutes from my home, and I still head out there at the crack of dawn in the summers to hit a bucket of balls before clinic. Despite being only 9 holes, I believe it is critical that layouts like Sugar Creek see many more years of play because it is accessible and affordable. On most days, you see retirees, teens, and families going around a track that offers plenty of challenge without being overwhelming. The grounds crew keeps the place in great shape. The other muni I enjoy going to is Waveland. I consider it Wakonda’s sister course in that it shares many features common to courses designed in American golf’s dawn era. Despite being created with hickory shafts in mind, it offers a challenge to golfers with modern equipment. The greens, when mowed, offer up a stern test -I once hit every green on the front nine in regulation there, but managed to three putt all for a 45-DH can attest to this. Today, as my parents drove back to Florida after recovering from their respective operations from earlier this year, I took the opportunity to hit a large bucket of range balls at Sugar Creek. The weather was unseasonably warm and into the low 70’s -just like July in Minnesota, and the arcing trace of the range balls gave me solace. The wind blew hard into my face, but the setting sun warmed it, and I was at peace.
Tree and Farm across 6th Street
The camera that comes on most cell phones is either cheap or inefficient. Cheap, meaning they make shoddy pictures. Overly powered meaning they make shoddy pictures while taking up 2 to 4 megapixels, sometimes more. Usually this is also limited by the circuitry and the lens. iPhone’s camera is a perfect match for iPhoto and the screen on the iPhone. In combination with photo processing software available on the App store, I’m able to not only take stunning pictures, but process them on the iPhone before posting them to the web, emailing them, or printing them out -the pictures are perfectly suited for 3×5 or 4×6 prints. Here are some pictures of Wakonda in all her fall glory.
View of Clubhouse from #16
This was processed on the iApp Camera Bag, using the Cinema filter, designed to make the image look like a shot taken with a 16mm movie camera.
This is another Camera Bag filter called Ansel to give the broad spectrum gray scales typified in Ansel Adam’s work. Very cool.
Number 15, looking back
This is an unprocessed image from iPhone. No filters, the camera just takes good pictures.
G on Number 16 rough
This was processed on the iApp PhotoLab, using the “Dramatic” black and white setting.
Putting Green, Number 9 left
This is a picture processed with Camera Bag’s “Helga” filter which is meant to recreate the images created by the plastic Holga camera.
I’ve largely stopped carrying my Canon IXUS which is very portable. The primary advantage of the IXUS is the macro lens setting which iPhone doesn’t have. This allows for very close focus which is useful in the operating room.
The teaching of golf to children is simple, requiring very little vocabulary. You hand them a club and tell them to knock the ball out there. They find the necessary adjustments that make their swing more efficient without too much pushing. Try that with a thirty five year old. If you have a child of less than ten, give them the gift of golf. They may never like it, may give it up for a time, but if they manage to get good form as a child, it stays for a lifetime.
A family man’s life is hard. He must give himself constantly to his labors. He must also prove that he contributes to the household by giving his labors during his days away from work. Men live shorter lives compared to their mates, being more prone to heart attack, stroke, prostate cancer, and soul-crushing depression.
The preamble to the Constitution speaks of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In truth, we have the to-do list, many responsibilities, and the time from 10pm to 2am. It isn’t to say that happiness can’t be derived from being a family man. It is gratifying to watch your progeny grow. It is comforting to share intimate moments with your mate. Above all, you avoid a certain amount of disrepute for lacking the gravitas of domestic ballast.
There is a moment when a man looks in the mirror and whispers that old Talking Heads’ refrain, “how did I get here?” You can make it happen by watching a video of yourself –it is in video that you see things that you gracefully filter out in the mirror. It’s horrible but fascinating to see all of a sudden that you no longer look so much like the Asian Charlie Sheen that the girls used to talk about, but now you could do a pretty good Roseanne Barr imitation.
In response, we all behave differently depending on our proclivity and appetites. There are those who externalize by grabbing on to things they didn’t have the funding for when they were younger and poorer. A Porsche 911 Turbo with Cabriolet top in sunburst copper in the shade you see on classic Les Paul guitars, a twenty-something girlfriend with daddy issues, a 24k grill that says, “Hedge Trimmer” -these are some of the things that come to mind. The internalizers on the other hand submerge their pain with night time viewings of 15 second sample porno clips and sideways glances at the milfy neighbor ladies. They become closet heterosexuals in that most asexual of life roles -suburban daddy.
The Atlases of the cul-de-sacs and exurbs are suffering, my friends, and I have found the way. Swing that club and celebrate your potential because in golf you are given those moments of purity and perfection. Put a smile on your face and not a gun in your mouth. Be the ball, not the tee.