Golfing Like Hail

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It's been a pretty awful Spring, cold and often wet. Thursday May 26 looked pretty decent, though, and the Country Golf League went out as usual for the 4:22 and 4:30 tee times. We were a bit late getting off as a cloud had come by and stopped play briefly within the hour before. I had my Minolta G500 digital camera along. Here are some photos I took:

Cumulus Mammulus over Gem Lake  26 May 2005
It was Raining at Country Insurance and Financial Services Central Region Office at about 3:00PM but blue sky was visible off to the west. It didn't seem like weather to call off the Golf League. Off we went to Gem Lake Golf Course. There were dark clouds and distant thunder sliding by to the south of us. Dan Johnson, Jay Hansen, Steve Harvey and Matt Cole teed off at about 4:30. At the teebox of the second hole the clouds looked like this, but were past us, mostly to the south, and continuing to head east.
McMansion going up just south of Gem Lake Golf Course
I've played fancy golf courses like, for instance, Stillwater Golf Course, with houses right by the course with really nice complicated rooflines and dormers from which to get numerous satisfying richochets before the ball drops into the yard. It's even more hilarious than a direct hit off a tree and about as good as bouncing a ball down the road in traffic. Anyway, this particular mansion is going up at a safe remove from the actual golf course. Even those of us who hit left into the weeds (cough, cough, dan, cough) would have a challenge to hit these dormers. Still, this is the first mansion in the development and maybe next year there will be targets, er, fine homes nearer the second hole fairway.
Golf carts at third hole green
By the time we were done putting on the third green, where Jay Hansen shot a birdie after a fairly brilliant tee shot, it looked like there might be more than just passing squalls coming our way.
Jay ignores imminent doom
Jay Hansen strolls with insouciant unconcern up the fifth fairway as the clouds loom in the background. There were occasional rumbles of thunder.
Even Jay can't ignore this
The fifth hole successfully under our belt, we have to wait a bit for the foursome ahead of us to clear the green. Here Jay Hansen walks towards the sixth teebox. Thunder becomes more frequent.
Storm?  What storm?
The green is clear but by now it looks imprudent to get out a club and hit. Thunder is much more frequent, the wind's picking up and we are about as far from the clubhouse as you can get. This one's not missing us, and it looks like we're sitting it out. Here Dan Johnson looks for shelter (the Port-a-potty?) while Barry Seguin, in the foursome behind us, moves up to his ball. That foursome would shortly abandon their clubs where they stood to take cover in the woods. Dan was on the course in 1992 when a guy was hit and killed by lightning at the U.S. Open (is that the right tournament?). Dan said he was pretty nearby but looking the other way when it hit.
What the Hail is this?
This picture kind of bags, but it was dark enough that the flash went off and it lit up the hail which began to fall. The temperature dropped rapidly and it also was raining like crazy. There was plenty of lightning although not much cloud-to-ground or anything very near us. I stood in the shelter of a shortish tree, hoping that if we did get hit, we were spread out enough that we wouldn't all get it. If we lived, we could join Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors International.
What the Hail is this?
This picture ain't too prime, either, I was holding an umbrella in one hand in the wind and it was dark out, but the whitish tinge on the ground is the accumulation of hail. Fortunately, it was pretty small stuff, not car-denting golfball size or anything, and it melted off surprising quickly, encouraged no doubt by the onslaught of rain.
Steve's Second Shot on Six
The storm had a very distinct end to it, the rain kind of petered out and the sun came out. Dan Johnson had an appointment in Golden Valley at 7:00 and time was a-wastin', so we headed off playing SpeedGolf. Here Steve Harvey takes his second shot on the sixth hole. The ball is actually visible in the shot; click on the photo for the bigger version and maybe it'll be more evident.
Dan's First Putt on Seven
Dan Johnson puts for the first time on six. The greens were sodden and really slow, and instead of the satisfying sound of the ball finally rattling into the cup there was instead a Sploosh! since the cup was full to the brim with water.
Jay tees off on Seven
Jay Hansen tees off on seven. The ball is that white blur. Jay put his first drive into the ditch along the road where I retrieved his ball (don't ask me why I was over there!) and used in on eight to get my first par of the season with a brilliant (read: random) short chip. The ominous grey clouds forming the backdrop to this scene are actually the backside of the storm.

I didn't take any more photos as the dramatic dark clouds moved off. As mentioned above, I parred the eighth hole and we all hit well on the ninth. By the time we were putting on nine, there was a distinct veil of rain moving across the golf course and it caught up with the foursome behind us, who gave up after the eighth hole, and rained down on us as we put our clubs away.

The remarkable thing is that in all of this, I hit the best score I have ever managed at Gem Lake on either course, a 40! Call me Mr. Consistency, with these scores so far this year: 55, 53, 55, 40. Sheesh. Funny thing is, my best round last year was also in the rain, though that was more a steady drizzle rather than sheets of rain, pelting hail, thunder and lightning, and most people emptied off the course allowing Dan Johnson, my son Henry and myself (and someone else...Bob Geist?) to play eleven holes by taking two of the holes twice on the short course.

Rainbow Over Larpenteur
After a beer and a delicious dinner of Doritoes and Cheetos, I drove home, and on the last mile westbound down Larpenteur it was hard to see because it was raining like mad but backlit by the sun, making a lovely liquid veil a mile long. I turned into my driveway only to notice a brilliant rainbow in the east. It is the most brilliant rainbow I have ever seen. I snapped this photo of it while it still glowed.

Not all weeks are this exciting, at least I hope they won't be! It was actually kind of majestic out there in the middle of the storm, I've been there before camping, cowering in a tent while lightning flashes outside. I like big electrical storms well enough that I've taken pictures of lightning over the years and have a Lightning Photography Page you can look at.

Created on ... May 26, 2005