GREENFIELD — Imagine playing basketball on a hoop that is in a different location each day. Or imagine playing baseball with 14 different types of bats.
Want to hit a screaming line drive? Pull out the No. 5. Now imagine performing one of those while taking a sharp blow from Mother Nature.
In this beautiful yet meticulous game, these circumstances are just a part of everyday life. No sport deals with the elements quite like the game of golf.
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If it’s too windy, golfers must pick the right club and adjust accordingly. A little rain? Some golfers said they prefer it, like Mt. Vernon’s Charley True. Others said it slows down the putting surface.
Playing on a hot, dry day? Shots roll down the fairways with ease.
If getting a tiny ball into a tiny hole wasn’t challenging enough, battling Mother Nature sure adds to the challenge.
“That’s what makes golf so exhilarating,” said True, who enters her sophomore campaign for the Marauders.
True, who finished 11th at the IHSAA State Finals as a freshman, has as much experience on the course as any golfer around Hancock County. She said having confidence is one way to beat the heat or unfavorable conditions.
“The problem with the rain is that you have to remember to keep yourself and your grips dry,” True said. “With the wind, it’s just a matter of noticing it and making the right play.”
Not only do these conditions affect the individuals playing, they affect the owners and operators at each course. Ed Marcum, who is the head softball coach at New Palestine, also acts as the superintendent for the Links Golf Club in New Palestine.
He said even the hint of a storm by the always trusty weatherman can throw off a busy weekend at the course.
Last spring was a wet one, too, and Marcum said it really affected the course’s momentum in the early part of the season. By fall, most golfers have had their fix and won’t likely plan to play with a thunderstorm or rain shower in the forecast.
“It was typical Indiana, you never really know what you’re going to get,” Marcum said. “It started off rainy and then you kind of get into a dry area. We’ve actually had some pretty nice rains.
“The weird part for us, we’ve had a lot of the big rains go north of us, and go south around Columbus. We haven’t had any downpours, which has been nice.”
While rainfall plays a factor, there is a true science to what can unfold.
“The course is really good,” Marcum said. “It’s been a good year as far as growing grass. The humidity affects you as far as disease (in the grass) that you have to spend more in pesticides but you kind of make up for it. You don’t have to spend as much in water. There isn’t a set amount (of rain you want). It’s about how it comes and when it comes.”
Marcum also said golf courses have a very short window for business in Indiana, making a slow or altered start that much more detrimental to overall revenue.
And although he no longer plays, Marcum added insight to particular conditions players at his course prefer. Unlike True’s love for soft greens, Marcum said he’s heard players prefer a firm rolling surface. It makes the ball roll farther, easier.
The links can actually control the moisture of the greens and adjust accordingly, if it is too wet from recent rainfall.
However, when the weather isn’t cooperating, Marcum said his landscaping crew spends less time maintaining each hole. Thicker grass is usually accompanied by tougher shots.
“Golf is a very unique game,” Marcum said. “Everyday you are playing the conditions with the wind and the weather, not to mention the course is going to play different everyday with it. The green speed changes depending on when it was mowed and what time you play. Golf is difficult.”