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Golf as it was never meant to be played

This group of golfers took to the greens, or rather whites, Jan. 1 to ring in 2016 in an Annapolis Royal traditional way – by playing golf at the Annapolis Royal Golf and Country Club. The insanity has been happening for 35 years.
This group of golfers took to the greens, or rather whites, Jan. 1 to ring in 2016 in an Annapolis Royal traditional way – by playing golf at the Annapolis Royal Golf and Country Club. The insanity has been happening for 35 years.

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL - It’s an annual ritual. On January 1 of the New Year, regardless of the weather, every year for the past 35, a group of otherwise sane, adult men, gather at the barn/workshop of Gary Walsh to play golf at the conveniently adjacent Annapolis Royal Golf and Country Club.

“It was just a lark,” said Walsh about the first year, “just something crazy to do to welcome in the New Year. But it became addictive. We came back the next year and kept coming back until there was nothing Mother Nature could throw at us that would keep us from playing golf on January first. It wasn’t like She didn’t try. We’ve played in blizzards, rain, hail, fog – you name it – but somebody always showed up to play and we always played.”

The 2016 outing was a gorgeous day by most New Year’s Day standards – cloudy at -2C with wind at 20 km/h. The major challenge was the accumulation of 12 inches of snow on the fairways. Understandably, white golf balls were not de rigueur. Yellow, orange, pink – the gaudier the better – was the order of the day.

Dressed in winter garb with heavy gloves and boots and sometimes strange but protective hats, the group teed off then marched in a line down the fairway looking for golf ball-sized holes in the pristine snow. Those who could hit a low ball got a major bonus: it didn’t disappear in the snow. Instead, it skitted along on an ice-glazed surface to twice the distance the shot deserved.

“It’s a guy thing,” said Bruce Keevill, one of the players. “It sounds insane but for me it’s a boy’s day out, a chance to thumb your nose at winter, hang out with the guys, and break all the rules. It’s like being 12 years old again just for the day.”

 

Article by Freeman Butland, a freelance writer in Annapolis Royal.

“It was just a lark,” said Walsh about the first year, “just something crazy to do to welcome in the New Year. But it became addictive. We came back the next year and kept coming back until there was nothing Mother Nature could throw at us that would keep us from playing golf on January first. It wasn’t like She didn’t try. We’ve played in blizzards, rain, hail, fog – you name it – but somebody always showed up to play and we always played.”

The 2016 outing was a gorgeous day by most New Year’s Day standards – cloudy at -2C with wind at 20 km/h. The major challenge was the accumulation of 12 inches of snow on the fairways. Understandably, white golf balls were not de rigueur. Yellow, orange, pink – the gaudier the better – was the order of the day.

Dressed in winter garb with heavy gloves and boots and sometimes strange but protective hats, the group teed off then marched in a line down the fairway looking for golf ball-sized holes in the pristine snow. Those who could hit a low ball got a major bonus: it didn’t disappear in the snow. Instead, it skitted along on an ice-glazed surface to twice the distance the shot deserved.

“It’s a guy thing,” said Bruce Keevill, one of the players. “It sounds insane but for me it’s a boy’s day out, a chance to thumb your nose at winter, hang out with the guys, and break all the rules. It’s like being 12 years old again just for the day.”

 

Article by Freeman Butland, a freelance writer in Annapolis Royal.

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