Covered greens and a frost delay

The original plan was to sneak in a round at Ocean View today — the forecast promised upper 40s and occasional sunshine, the one warm day in two weeks of where’s-the-global-warming-when-we-need-it cold — but ….

If you have a tendency to slice, check the traffic before you tee off on 15.

The good folks at OV called yesterday to let us know many of their greens were staying covered and only temporary greens would be available. That was good of them. It was also good of them to arrange a 9:20 a.m. tee time for us at Kempsville Greens Golf Course in Virginia Beach — another of the courses in the world’s cheapest membership package.

But it was nowhere near 40 degrees at 9:20 and a frost delay remained in effect. They said it would be about another hour. They got that just about right … and then the temperature rose quickly and the sun came out … and all in all it turned out to be quite a nice day of golf. (Parring five of the last six holes does improve one’s evaluation.)

The course was about what you’d expect given the weather. Brown fairways, a bit shaggy. Bunkers still frozen at the beginning, not bad at the end. Now, about those greens….

The par-three 17th hole. Go up a club if it’s cold!

First, that frost that delayed the round ran quite deep. On the first par three, Nuther-Duffer hit a nice lofty nine-iron to the center of the green. The ball bounced 10 to 15 feet in the air — it looked like it had hit a cart path — and ended up 15 yards or so beyond the green. The green was frozen solid — it felt like a car path when you stepped onto it.

And thanks to some combination of ice and a few days of missed maintenance due to sub-freezing weather, they were slow slow slow. Putts came up short all day long (for everyone, not just Nuther-Duffer, just to be clear).

The other joy about frozen ground — trying to get a tee in the ground. You had to hold the tee with two hands, then put most of your body weight on it — a pretty sight. Someone really needs to invent a threaded tee for days like this, something you can screw into the tundra. (Go ahead and steal that idea, just be sure you call it the Nuther-Duffer TwisTee. You could design it so that it worked with a spike-replacement tool.)

Not where you want to be hitting your third shot on 18.

But, by day’s end, the greens had thawed, as had the bunkers and tee boxes (and the scores, which had been in a serious deep freeze) and it began to feel like a round of golf. We began to think about taking off a layer or two.

Then the wind came up. And the clouds came out. And the temperature began to drop. And winter returned. And we high-tailed it to the parking lot.

Now, six hours later, it’s 36 degrees — which happens to be the highest temperature in the forecast for the next eight days.

Top Golf, anyone?

Boxing Day: As good as it gets (this week) at Ocean View

Today’s scary weather headline: Will 2017 end with a snowstorm?

Clouds over the first tee.

The answer seems to be, well, maybe. So if the low 40s are the best we’re going to see this week, we thought, might as well take advantage of the sunshine! And so Nuther-Duffer found himself at Ocean View Golf Course here on Boxing Day 2017 — with none of the usual “& Co.” who were at home warming themselves in front of the microwave.

The cheap membership effect was in evidence: When Nuther-Duffer called to ask if there was room for a single, expecting to be told as he has been so often in the past “Sure, come on out,” he was told instead, “I can add you to a twosome at 1:04.”

The good news about 1:04: That’s about the time the high temperature was going to arrive. But with sunset around 4:30, it was going to chill off in a hurry and perhaps get too dark to continue after about 15 holes.

Nice day when the wind’s at your back.

The good news about the chill: It apparently kept a lot of people home who had made tee times. Cuz the course was pretty much wide open, for a change, and Nuther-Duffer and the twosome covered 18 holes in three and a half hours — beating the darkness by a good 20 minutes.

The course itself seems to be holding up well to the weird fluctuations in temperature and to the increased number of rounds being played. It’s all brown, of course, but the fairways were tidy and the greens were in decent shape, especially for the day after Christmas when (presumably) the grounds crew got a day off.

The Ocean View bunkers, on the other hand, are still, well, the Ocean View bunkers. The best you can hope for these days is about half an inch of sand on top of the clay lining. Your wedge is going to ricochet off the clay and your ball is going to end up on the far side of the green.

Long shadows at the end of the round.

Today’s tip: If your ball’s in a Ocean View bunker, play it like it’s sitting on hardpan and try to pick it clean.

But OV is still OV — cozy and close and comfortable and a bit like the bar on “Cheers” — when you want to go where everybody knows your name.

The thieves were in the palace!

The thieves were in the palace on Sunday.

At least that’s what it always feels like when, thanks to the magic of Groupon or Living Social, Nuther-Duffer and friends manage to cross the great divide between players of city-owned public courses and the upper crusty players (if not necessarily the better golfy players) of the area’s private country clubs.

This week’s trip to the other side took us to Elizabeth Manor Golf and Country Club in Portsmouth, where the club and the surrounding working-class neighborhood are divided by a long driveway and the letters EMGCC writ large in evergreen topiary. We didn’t notice a members-only sign, but the policy became pretty clear when we got to the parking lot and the first car we passed was a Maserati.

(Which was parked next to a Lexus, which was parked next to — this is true — a Kia. Which suggested one of two things — either we weren’t the only fence-jumpers that day, or members and employees share a parking lot. Your guess?)

First, let’s address the obvious question: There’s a private country club in Portsmouth?

Yes, there is, and the explanation is that it’s been there a long time.

The EMGCC was organized in 1948 and the par-70 golf course opened in 1951.  It’s been the home of the Eastern Amateur Golf Tournament since 1957 (former winners include Curtis Strange and Ben Crenshaw). Among the founding members was Clarence “Ace” Parker, a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, as well as a professional caliber baseball player and golfer. In fact, the club’s address is on Ace Parker Drive and word is he lived for years in one of the really quite modest homes along the 15th fairway. 

So the place is steeped in local history and what it lacks in shiny new facilities it makes up for in comfortable charm.

The EMGCC pro shop is an unassuming little affair in a building separate from the main country club facility. The staff was friendly and helpful and not at all dismissive of we couponers, for which we were grateful.

The course — even well into December and on a day that started with a three-hour frost delay — was in terrific shape. It certainly looked like someone had been out mowing and trimming that morning, even while the frost was still on the ground.

Nuther-Duffer isn’t quite sure what to make of the layout. Elizabeth Manor isn’t a strikingly beautiful golf course, but it is consistently pleasant. It has an open feel to it, but is fitted into a fairly small plot of land — it’s not unusual for the walk from one green to the next tee to be no more than a few steps. (So you do need to be comfortable with the sound of golf balls landing nearby while you’re playing, trusting that the folks behind you are, well, better than you.)

It’s a great course for walkers — hardly a hill to be found. In fact, other than the boomerang-shaped 15th, there aren’t many holes that you would think of as doglegs. Still, and we’re not quite sure how this happens, it’s a delightfully maddening golf course. It looks like it should be as easy to play as Ocean View, Nuther-Duffer’s home muni and comfort zone. Yet somehow Sunday’s 93 at Elizabeth Manor seemed every bit as satisfying as last week’s 86 at OV. (A rare chip-in birdie may have contributed to that feeling.)

Nuther-Duffer and Co. are hoping that the good folks at Elizabeth Manor continue their Groupon offer — $195 for a foursome (that you can trim down by 20 percent or more on those special-offer Groupon days). The coupon is good for 120 days from the time of purchase, and you can buy one a month. 

That’s a hard-to-beat offer. And if no one’s looking, you can get one of your buddies to snap a picture of you with the Maserati.