Fore: Welcome to my kind of powder day

Chris Freud
On golf

Monday morning, I felt a little silly lugging my golf clubs out to the car as a foot of snow was falling. By Tuesday evening, I was burnt to a crisp.Monday and Tuesday were beautiful powder days for the local skiers, riders and spring-breakers alike. They were also my kind of powder days.I’ve been a sports writer or sports editor for the Vail Daily now for nearly eight years. Five of my eight winters here, I haven’t skied – I have no idea how to snowboard. I think I’ve been skiing one day in the last five years. Back Bowls? They’re in my kitchen.(If you’re wondering what the heck I’m doing in Central Rockies, you’re not the first to ask that question. Don’t go there.)

One of the beauties of spring in Eagle County is that you can ski and golf in the same day – Gypsum’s Cotton Ranch already has nine holes open. I just prefer to skip the skiing and get to the golfing part of things.Still, even as a golfing diehard, I was questioning my sanity while scraping the ice off my car Monday morning. Driving up to Wildridge to pick up my friend Ken, who was in town for a visit, assured me that I was certifiable.But then, there is a reason that whatever deity in whom you believe created Interstate-70 west. As the mile-marker numbers ticked down, the snow faded and the blue skies above increased.We were ready for Arctic golf. We had layers of clothes in our bags. I had my Giants ski hat and winter gloves at the ready. There was no need. By the time we got to Redlands Mesa in Grand Junction, it was 55 and sunny. Perfect.

When the lifts fire up each November, I always read about people who camp out nearby overnight to be the first ones up. What are you doing you, morons? Only Born Free is open and it’s not like the snow’s going anywhere?Having driven more than 300 miles round trip to hit a little white ball into a small hole with odd-shaped mallets 18 times, I think I understand. Just as with your first run of the year, that first drive – especially if it’s true – and the first 18 holes of the year are spiritual experiences.Redlands Mesa, since it opened in 2001, has gotten a lot of press. It’s definitely worthy of high praise. The Jim Engh design is a wonderful test for golfers of all abilities from experts (Ken) to shlubs (me). Like elevated tee boxes? Jimmy’s your man. The course takes you to another place. Theoretically, we were in Colorado, but this was Arizona desert golf with enormous rock formations, sagebrush and desert-like weather. Of course, three pars on the front nine make me like any golf course.

Thoroughly beaten up by a long day of golf, Ken and I immediately determined that more golf was in order Tuesday. We made it a Jim Engh doubleheader with Lakota Canyon in New Castle. Opened last summer, this is another great course which is only going to get better with age – and it’s just a little more than an hour away.Just like skiers taking one or two too many runs early in the season, we were dead to the world by the end of our first 36 of the season. We really shouldn’t have played again – our thighs, knees, arms and backs aching. But, it’s a good sort of tired.And, as a bonus, I have a serious sunburn going. If people didn’t know me better, they might have thought I was out having two powder days.Sports Editor Chris Freud, when not out on the links, can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or, Colorado

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