Planet Golf — 27 February 2012 by Jim Street
Making a dry run to start the golf year

My too-long neglected Callaway clubs had been in the trunk of my car for more than a month, waiting for the first round of golf of 2012.

First, there was the snow storm that buried the Northwest. Then came the ice storm, followed by rain.

As much as I love the game, sloshing around a golf course and having quality shots imbedded in mud on a fairway is not conducive to a fun-filled day on the links.

What’s a golfer to do?

Say hello to The Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course– recognized as the driest course in Western Washington, located near Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula.  I have heard a lot about the course and its reputation. But after all that snow, ice, and rain less than two weeks earlier, how could it be anything less than a quagmire? Heck, the still-soggy earth in my back yard gives way when I walk on it.

There was only one way to find out just how “dry” the driest course in Western Washington really is.

Boy do I have good news for you. I have played wetter tracks in April and May than the round my colleague and golfing pal played at The Cedars at Dungeness on a crisp but sun-splashed Feb. 3 – one of about 41,000 rounds that will be played on the course this year.

“We are open 364 days a year,” said Bill Shea, the PGA-Director of Golf and General Manager. “We’re closed on Christmas Day.”

It's wise to find the right side of green in Par-3 17th

However, the mid-January storm that hit Washington dumped more than seven inches of snow on the 6,616 yard, tree-lined course, forcing it to be closed for 10 days. But the course rebounded well, thank you very much.

Shea, who has been part of the Cedars at Dungeness staff for all but 18 months since 1997, explained that Mother Nature usually is very kind to them. The average yearly rainfall is 11 to 13 inches in Sequim, compared to 28 inches in Port Angeles, located just 15 miles away.

“Another reason we stay dry is the soil we have here,” he said. “It’s a sandy loam. We can play summer rules 11 months of the year,”

But the test is in the pudding, so they say.

After a visit to the driving range to loosen up, the first round of the year started at 11:15 a.m. as part of a five-some. The group included brothers Scott and Troy, Jacob, Bob and me.

The condition of the course amazed me. Not once during the next 4 ½ hours did any of our shots become plugged — on or off the fairway. The roll wasn’t quite Arizona-desert like, but much closer than I ever expected.

Birdies came in bunches. Well, they came in bunches for Jacob. He birdied five of the 14 holes he played before having to leave for a prior commitment. Bob and I figured we drove him away. Scott had a couple of birdies, coming with three inches of an eagle on the 387-yard par-4 10th – and made a superb shot onto the green on No. 3, the signature hole with the famed “crab” bunker. Troy contributed a birdie to the day.

No birdies for me or Bob. But that didn’t matter. The first of what hopefully will be many rounds of golf in 2012 was a blast.

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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