The distant thunder was troubling, but then it had become part of the July Fourth weekend. It didn’t stop us from swimming, walking, paddle boarding and an evening campfire, although it was a challenge with everything so wet from repeated soaking.
“In about 15 minutes, Peppy,” Eddie said poking his head in the door.
“Let’s go now,” I responded after a glance of the overcast sky.
My 11-year-old grandson didn’t need any prompting.
“I’ll get the bags,” he said with enthusiasm.
By the time we were ready it had started to rain. Maybe this storm was going to miss us, but even if it wasn’t, we were going to attempt nine holes on the nearby par-3 golf course. I hadn’t played golf since last summer when my sons, Jack, Eddie and I played this course not far from Cooperstown on a hot July day.
We grabbed rain jackets and umbrellas from the closet and set off. The rain picked up and by the time we reached the upper road it was pounding on the roof. Maybe this was just a passing shower. The windshield wipers slapped furiously, throwing water.
We pulled up to the clubhouse. The lot was empty except for the manager’s truck. Puddles dotted the fairways and sand traps were ponds. A muddy brown river ran under the car.
We looked out at the fleet of neatly-parked golf carts.
“Maybe we could get that one,” Eddie said of the single cart that had a windshield and a black canvas snapped to its roof.
When the rain let up we bolted to the clubhouse.
The manager was surprised. He was ready to call it a day, a washout.
But then the sky was brightening and the rain let up. This might yet happen.
Eddie, who knows the course well, outlined the plan to play nine holes although they weren’t the first nine holes. The manager thought it reasonable as it would keep us reasonably close to the clubhouse, and besides, nobody was out there.
“If you see lightening, get to your car,” he advised. Taking a cart was out of the question. The manager was sure it would be mired in the dirt – now mud – passages to reach sections of the course. I suggested we limit ourselves to three clubs each and the manager provided light “Sunday bags” to carry them.
Holding umbrellas we squished to the first tee. After a couple of practice swings, Eddie whacked the ball beyond the sand-pond pits.
“Left you the tee,” he said, retreating to retrieve his umbrella and watch my lame attempt at golf. I topped the ball sending it down the fairway kicking up a tail of water until it stopped about 30 yards ahead.
“Good straight shot,” my grandson said encouragingly. “Peppy,” he added, “Keep your head down.” I needed help. Eddie was ready.
I followed his advice. My second shot had some loft and after a half dozen putts we were on to the second tee. It was still raining, but conditions showed signs of improving. I put down my umbrella and the wind caught it sending it rolling down the fairway. Eddie took up the chase. The umbrella went further than my drive.
By the third hole, it stopped raining and I had my best shot of the afternoon. Eddie was excited. His student was showing signs of improvement.
Since we weren’t keeping score – a good thing – I suggested if I won two of nine holes I would be the winner. Either way Eddie decided we’d get drinks at the clubhouse.
As Eddie stepped up to the fourth tee, the rain returned. It came in curtains across the course. Eddie hit the ball. I heard it. I couldn’t see anything. The hood to Eddie’s rain jacket was stuck to his head. Water was running off his nose. We couldn’t see 50 feet.
“I think it’s time to go,” he said. Nearby thunder affirmed his suggestion.
Wind made short work of my umbrella. I kept my head down only now I was focused on getting us back to the car as quickly as possible. We were drenched when we reached it. The manager, wisely, had left. We sat in the car, the windows steaming, the rain pounding. I pulled out my cell phone from a soaked pocket handing it to Eddie.
“It still works, Peppy,” he said triumphantly, looking for something to dry it.
We waited another five minutes in our cocoon from the storm, before I put the car in gear and headed down the hill toward the house.
Two miles and we came to the intersection with Route 80.
There was a stream of traffic – well, in these parts five cars is considered traffic – all turning to go where we’d just been.
“They must have heard how great the golf was,” I quipped.
“No Peppy,” Eddie answered, “they’re seeking higher ground.”