n Black Friday, I found myself—not at the Mall with the desperate bargain hunting masses—but on the course to take advantage of the unusually warm and sunny weather. Any time you can play in Michigan after Halloween, it’s a blessing.
My fantasy was that with everyone else shopping, I’d have a course to myself. The reality was that the tees were every bit as crowded as the malls; I called three places before finding one that could fit me in.
I ended up at Huron Hills, the Ann Arbor muni that’s just a couple of miles from GolfBlogger World Headquarters. It’s not what you would call a high end track, but is pleasant enough. The course suffered quite a bit over the past decade in terms of upkeep, but in last couple of years the city has made commendable efforts at revival. Greens and tee boxes were in good shape, as were the fairways. A recent change: where once it was a walking-only facility there now is a fleet of power carts. Huron Hills also been at the center of a controversy over whether in fact the city should be in the golf business at all. Residents near the course fought back all proposals for change, however, and for now it remains open for golf, cross country skiing and sledding.
My partner for the round was a retired high school counselor. Later, we were joined by a real estate agent and a university employee. All were fine fellows. I am, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, thankful for a sport that can turn four total strangers into friends for a few hours.
he ground was soft and in some places flooded from rain the previous few nights. Ducks, geese and swans had actually settled into the newly created water hazard on five. Walking by, I saw fish. Fortunately, Huron Hills is a relatively short course, so soft ground is a small handicap (and perhaps even a benefit, given the small greens and six par threes).
Considering several weeks of lay-off, I was in fine golf shape. My swing felt easy and smooth. I hit fairways and greens (or at least had near misses) Putts were dropping from all over. My only fault was an inexplicable loss of nerves around the greens. I left far too many chips and pitches short.
I played well enough to get one of the best golf complements I’ve had in ages: one of my partners compared my swing to that of Ernie Els. I can think of no higher praise. Els and Fred Couples are the guys I try to visualize.
he best part about Huron Hills are the views. Holes nine, ten, eleven, seventeen and eighteen are on commanding heights, overlooking the Huron River Valley. In full autumn bloom, it’s spectacular. It’s still nice when the leaves are gone and the trees are grey.
We finished our round just as the sun was going down. It’s surprising how quickly the air cools at that point. By the time I got back to my car, I was ready for a heavier jacket.
The forecast on this Monday is for snow mid week. That’s okay. I can’t imagine a better end to the season that the round I had last Friday: good weather, good golf, good company.