On the Course: Ducking lightning
SNOWMASS VILLAGE For a minute, I thought I was in Ireland, but then I looked up at the mass of clouds forming around me and heard small raindrops pelting my golf bag. After we teed off on the fourth hole at the Snowmass Golf Club, we heard the rolling thunder and shrieked at the lighting in the distance. A minute later came the heart-stopping horn calling all golfers back to the clubhouse because of the dangerous conditions.It was kind of a rookie move for a local to test Mother Nature these days and try to hit the links in the middle of an afternoon in the Colorado Rockies. But I was an invited guest of some VIPs to make the foursome complete, and you can never turn down free golf with very important people. I was excited to play the course not only because it got me out of covering the end of a two-day City Council retreat, but also because I hadn’t played it since it was redesigned by Jim Engh, once Golf Digest’s “Architect of the Year.”But when we were summoned back to the clubhouse to wait out the storm, I felt like what local gadfly Toni Kronberg must feel like just hours before a City Council meeting – champing at the bit to get back in the game.Once the pro shop cleared us to get back on the links, I couldn’t believe how much has changed on that course. The front nine is completely different. The landscape has seven different grasses, making it a one-of-a-kind “Irish links course with mountain flair,” as the spin doctors suggest.And nowhere more apparent was that mountain flair than on the tee box of hole No. 14 – the most dangerous place to be when lightning strikes. Just when I was getting comfortable with my game, especially on the back nine where things started looking familiar again, the lightning horn sounded. I was just about to take a swing when the skies above unleashed, sending a bolt of lightning just a few hundred feet away. I stood on the tee box, admiring my best drive of the day and thinking that if I was struck and killed with my new Ping G5 driver in my hands, I’d be OK with it.But then my senses came back to me after another crack of thunder and lightning, and we ran for the hills -or I mean the clubhouse.I’m glad I lived through the ordeal so I can come back to the Snowmass course and finish the round. From what I could glean, the course is difficult but forgiving. Too bad the weather wasn’t.