If the golf season in Michigan sometimes seems cruelly short, there is at least one wonderful compensation: twilight golf.
Warmer climes may get more days, but our peak summer days in the pleasant peninsula are longer and there is something delicious about playing golf at nine-thirty at night.
On vacation in Northern Michigan (what we call “Up North”) this past week, I have played three twilight rounds, and finished all of them sometime after nine thirty pm. I started all of them after six.
Try doing that in any of the sunshine states. In Orlando and Myrtle Beach, golfers are packing up their clubs and heading to the bars at about the same time that I’m heading for the first tee.
Not everyone Up North has discovered the pleasures of twilight golf, though, and for that I’m grateful. Twilight golf is usually much less crowded and—following the laws of supply and demand—much cheaper.
Starting a round at 6:30, I paid just $10 (walking) to play 18 on a top quality course that normally charges $69.
I was one of just a handful of players out there that night. I saw a foursome once in their carts, passing me on their inward route as I headed from seven to eight. And always a hole ahead of me was another single, just disappearing into the woods to the next hole as I was approaching the tee.
But for the most part I was wonderfully alone. It was quiet and cool—I was grateful I had worn long pants. As the sun sank lower beneath the tops of the trees, I packd the hat, and then the sunglasses. I saw some deer grazing in the rough, and a fox cross the fairway—sights you wouldn’t see when the course is being buzzed by loud golfers in their gasoline carts.
I play better when I’m alone, of course. Not because I’m cheating, but because it’s wonderfully calming. No audience, no pressure, no need to hurry up and get out of the way of the loud foursome behind. I shot a legitimate 84.
As I finished the last hole, there was just barely enough light to see. I considered staying and putting, but looking at my watch noticed that it was nine thirty and figured that Mrs. Golfblogger would start to worry. So I packed and went home.
A couple of years ago, I took advantage of the long Michigan days to walk and play 54 holes in a single marathon stretch. The first 36 were played in the heat of the day and after the third nine, I wasn’t sure I could finish.
But the last round was a twilight round, and as the sun went down, the air cooled adn the breezes picked up. And in the cool quiet, I got a second wind. I finished strong, although I had to use a lot of motrin the next day.
And I think I could get in even more. Since its gets light enough to play in July at around 5:30 am, and is still not too dim to quit at 9:30, that would give me sixteen hours to play golf. If I averaged four hours a round, I could easily get in 72. And if things moved fast enough, I think I could get in 90 —but I’d have to take a cart.