I love the game of baseball. And around the time my daughter my born it was my favourite sport. I’d argue no sport celebrates Opening Day the way that baseball does. Where it lands on the calendar, the fact it follows a leisurely spring in the south, further following an off-season in the cold winter months and ushering in 6 months of daily games. The late Bart Giamatti said this about baseball, “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leave you to face the fall alone”. This reinforces baseball is a storytellers game. And then there is the pomp and pageantry; the U.S. President often throws out the opening pitch at one of the stadiums to usher in the season. It’s a big deal.
Golf, well golf…uh, there’s the excitement of a wrap around season and the start of a new Fed Ex Cup season. Alright, professional golf may have the worst season opening day. So let’s forget about the professionals. In fact, let’s focus here in Canada and on public play. The quote from Mr. Giamatti could have easily being talking about the public golf season for most of Canada. All except for the fact that the game here traditionally begins intermittently. There are no bright lights, the game sparks up at courses randomly like fire flies glimmering in a field. Soon enough, in time, courses everywhere across Canada open and are set to enjoy the coming season. But there is no widely recognized Opening Day. Until this year. In fact, in a unique role reversal due to the current pandemic, there is no baseball being played. Golf in Canada? It is us who have the honour, the anticipation and excitement of a formal Opening Day. Provinces across Canada have announced in the past few weeks dates when courses can open for public play. Today, May 20, the province of Quebec is the final province to open. And over the past two weeks, I have seen incredible similarities in the excitement and joy that Opening Day has provided. For golf, not baseball.
And make no mistake, golf will break my heart. Could be by the third hole today, when I open my 2020 season at Hidden Lake, but it will happen. But what will also happen will be a unique joy, appreciation and gratefulness for being able to play a game today that has become my new sports passion.
I don’t think we could, or even should, employ a province-wide opening day for golf again. Circumstances were unique, I believe we’ve acted responsibly. And for a game as iconic as baseball, it makes me feel good that golf could borrow from baseball and usher in the most exciting Opening Day for golf in Canadian history.