The height of summer is perfect. Long, lazy summer days lend themselves to the call, “we should get out for a late nine.” Hitting the course with less than two hours of daylight left just feels different. The aura of gratitude and relaxation are around, not abundant, as there are often few singles and pairings who are out at this time. The dress code is more relaxed. There is no scorecard, at least when I am out at this hour. No range time. And no expectation, just a deep sense of calm. I love this experience.
My stepson, a skilled player, has been working on a swing change this season so the emergency nine has become more of a thing in my household. We slide into the pro shop, pay, and slide onto a surprisingly quiet course. I am trying to get my wife to come join us, as nine holes in a much more casual setting is more to her liking when it comes to golf. But make no mistake, this is quickly becoming one of my favourite times to tee it up. This past Saturday we made it out. Weather was perfect. And with a couple beers – purchased at the course – in our golf bag, we enjoyed some nice walks down the fairway together and get caught up on all things golf and more.
I see couples, buddies, fathers, and daughters (or sons) all out at this hour. There is more laughter and chatter, which is fine by me. I am not here to set course records or grind, but more so to recharge and lose myself in the moment. Late day shadows come in as we’re closing up the nine. It is the reminder that this is a fleeting experience, despite all efforts to make it last.
As someone who is not always the most relaxed on the golf course, this experience helps me see what is possible, perhaps the way in which I should address my weekly round with my regular group, after all there is nothing fundamentally different that I am doing or experiencing. But I digress. The whole notion of the emergency nine is to simply be present, enjoying the game in its purist form.
For some, it is the early morning. For others, its late day. Maybe it is a weekend nine holes with family and friends. But I urge everyone to seek their own happy space on the course. The emergency nine has become my go to place and space to recalibrate what is important in golf. For me, it is walking and being in the moment. Scoring is not as important as just hitting shots. Even that is not always important. Sunsets, birds (and birdies), applauding great shots by my stepson and deep breaths walking the fairways make the emergency nine one of the most enjoyable parts of golf for me. If I were a Doctor, I would prescribe it to players everywhere. Instead, I simply recommend it. Grab the clubs and someone else and get in a late day nine. Smiles, not a scorecard, is all that is really needed.