Tune out the rain refrain, face the music and hit the ball

“Play on.”

Normally, we love hearing those words. If there’s one thing we do well on the golf course, it’s play on.

And play and play and play until the sun goes down.

But it was easy to see why the pros weren’t so enthusiastic about being told to hit away on the final holes of the Honda Classic.

It wasn’t just raining. It was pouring. You and I would have trouble making contact, let alone hitting the ball for any distance.

Most golfers would stop or just walk in. “I won’t play in that,” is a common rain refrain.

To which I say: Where’s your sense of adventure?

Some of my most memorable rounds were in bad weather.

The heavy rain at the start of my round years ago at Carnoustie? My only regret is that it stopped after two holes.

The gale-force winds that time at Monterey Peninsula Country Club? Only time in my life I’ve hit a 3-iron on a 135-yard par-3 and didn’t get there even though I crushed it. The wind took my shot straight up the elevator shaft.

The temperatures dipping below 40 degrees on a January day in Kansas? We just bundled up, walked real fast and hit as soon as we were ready – and had a great time.

I still look back fondly on a particularly soggy round at Bodega Harbour even though I played lousy. The rain was so persistent, I couldn’t complete a swing for a few holes because the club kept slipping out of my hand. I had to go to a half-swing and hang on for dear life.

My only bad golf memories involving the weather are because of lightning. I see that, I get off the golf course. Now. I’ve seen it up close and personal. Not good.

But there was no lightning at the Honda Classic, so I fully understand why PGA Tour officials made the pros play on amid that downpour. The last thing they wanted was a Monday finish for one or two holes. I’d imagine most of the players – and the television crew – felt the same way.

If I was a TV executive managing the golf coverage, I’d pray for some bad weather. Not bad enough to shut down the round, mind you. You want them to play, but you want the pros to struggle a little. I’d wager that the ratings go up when the rain comes down.

Think of all the great memories we have at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. I felt a twinge of regret when the weather was perfect this year. Too easy.

Every time I turn on The Open Championship early in the morning, I hope for rain, wind and players looking highly uncomfortable.

The U.S. Open often is played in heat so brutal, it is a test of endurance as much as skill. That’s not as much fun as rain and wind, but we’ll take what we can get.

There’s another reason why challenging conditions fit so well into the mindset of our great game: We like challenges.

If you expect the temperature to be ideal all the time, take up bowling. Or badminton. Or knitting. Or just stay in the clubhouse and play gin or bridge or something.

People don’t think of golfers as tough, but we have to be to post anything close to a decent score when the odds and the conditions are against us. And the only way you’re going to do that is if you think of this extra challenge as fun.

No complaining. Hit the ball.

Play on.   

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