I JEDgolfed alone for 22 years... and all of the sudden people wanna try it.
Today, Gary Bell brought Mike Clark and Brandon Siurek to join Daniel Berner and I for a 18 holes at Wicker Park. I told everyone on the tee the general rules - no practice swing, walk briskly, get used to people moving to their balls and hitting while you're hitting, the "two balls" rule, and so on. Brandon's a really good golfer. He kept hitting the ball about 190 yards with his 7 iron. That's a little out of range. I figure that to find your ball quickly and to cut down on zizzagging across the fairway (which takes up more time), you want to hit the ball on average about 150-160 yards.
I truly enjoyed playing JEDgolf with other people... as much as I've always considered it a solitary activity. Hundreds of times I would be walking or running up fairways in the snow or in the blistering heat, and I would think - "There's really no peace for like playing JEDgolf - ALONE." After the past couple of weeks, in which eight new people have played JEDgolf with me, I'm starting to come around to the idea that you can also enjoy playing it with other people.
As a matter of fact, I was driving the mile or so over to Wicker Memorial Park golf course in Highland, Indiana, with my daughter's boyfriend, Daniel Berner, and I told him - "This will be perfect. There'll be three of us. I really don't like to play JEDgolf with more than three people. Too slow."
So I was surprised when I showed up and there were three other dudes standing there. It gets a little busy on the green when five guys are putting at the same time.... but we got better at it as the round went on.
Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes for 18 holes
Best stroke score: Brandon Siurek. 43 on front. 39 on back. 82 total.
Walking or running JEDgolf?: Walking only.
Brandon Siurek's JEDgolf score: 82 strokes plus 100 minutes = 182. Nice round.
Brandon and Mike Clark pledged to play again, perhaps at Centennial Golf Club in Munster. Gary Bell has played with me several times now and will no doubt again. JEDgolf fits Bell's personality. He's a highly driven lawyer who gets entirely impatient during snail golf. Walking briskly, he is a much better golfer and happier man.
Daniel Berner, who lives in New York City, pledged to take the game to Shelter Island, New York, where his family vacations. Daniel said he'll try to get his mom and dad, Lenore and Danny, to try it at the private club on Shelter Island.
It's kinda weird I suppose that I would dedicate to a sport because I got run over by a truck tire... but... there is not but.
I started running golf in 1994, and I've been doing it pretty much ever since. For some reason, when I run golf, or walk with one club golf, or JEDgolff, I just feel better about things. Plus, since the truck tire incident, I really can't snail golf at all. All that getting in and out of the cart, sitting, then swinging a big, huge driver as hard as you can. When I think of this, I think of pain.
Which is what I have a lot of since the truck tire. It's been a long summer without JEDgolff. I used to do it in the summer but it's so freaking hard to find opportunities to do it. The weather's really only nice for three months around here and for those three months everyone and their brother dusts off their sticks. Sometimes you can sneak on a course at sunrise or in the gloamin before sunset... but it's just a hassle explaining it to the doofus in the clubhouse and then sometimes guys holler at you and even hit a ball at you. It's better to do it when it's not so warm and there's way less people.
So I'm noticing something. I didn't JEDgolff over the summer... and my back is flaring up. You can watch the video above of one of my first rounds of the year and my back is tight and I'm not turning on my swing. And because of this tightness and pain, there's no danger that I'll sink into my Natural Core Swing.
Here's the experiment, then. I plan on doing floor stretches that I learned at physical therapy rehabbing my back and hitting the Planet Fitness where they have this section that's dedicated to strengthening your core. I suspect that if I get serious about exercising explicitly so that I can strengthen my core, and can hence swing with less tightness (because the muscles aren't firing as much to hold my spine in place), I might be able to reduce my back pain.
It's worked before, so it's worth a try.
It's 5:39pm on a Monday evening in June. I'm sitting about 25 miles south of the United Center, where the Chicago Blackhawks are set to beat Tampa Bay for the Stanley Cup. I should probably think about finding a seat at a bar of one of our radio sponsors, but instead I'm thinking about JEDgolffing in the wicked rainstorm outside.
Why? Because it's a storm with no lightning. At least not so far. It's just rain, and rain don't ruin JEDgolff, nor does snow, sleet or extreme heat. The only thing which keeps me from JEDgolffing around here is negatively-charged particles collecting at the bottom of a cloud and then exploding. At the first hint of it, no JEDgolff.
I've been away from this website for a while... and from JEDgolffing. It got warm and sunny for a few weeks and that brought out all of the snail golfers. Usually that doesn't matter so much in that I can sneak in about 30 minutes to sunset at Wicker Park.... but even that place has been kinda crowded. It's really only nice about three months a year around here, so when it is nice, the snail golfers come out of the woodwork.
Anyways, I'm trying to post videos of the JEDgolff rounds I've done. A few years ago, I bought one of the first original GoPros, and I've actually filmed dozens of JEDgolff rounds in all types of weather. But I didn't really think anyone would ever want to watch them besides maybe in 20 years a grandkid I don't have yet would want some good laughs... so I've lost a lot of the SD cards.
But I did find one, above. Let's call it the first "Extreme JEDgolff." I started out the first hole at Wicker near sunset (because that's when I'm used to playing, I guess) when it was 22 degrees and a blizzard. The temperature dropped, the wind picked up, it started snowing sideways real hard... and I finished the first hole. It was great. I'm hooked on Extreme JEDgolff forever.
Ironically, that was just before the Super Bowl. Patriots 28, Seahawks 24. I missed kickoff trying to warm up my hands enough to feel my fingers. Kinda dumb. It stayed wicked cold for three more months after the Super Bowl and I learned a lot about keeping warm in extreme weather. I JEDgolffed several times in extreme temperatures, with drifting snow up to my thighs. Once again, it was great. I just heard lightning far away. If it doesn't come this way I'll get in a round of JEDgolff before the puck drops and that will make all the difference.
Course: George W. Dunne National, Oak Forest, IL
Former name: Forest Preserve National
Conditions: Sunny, 10 degrees, some wind. Approximately three inches of fresh powder on top of 6-24 inches of ice covered snow.
Reputation: Forest Preserve, or Dunne National, is "recognized by Golf Digest as one of the top public courses" in America, according to the Forest Preserve website. I concur. It is hands down the best public course I've ever played, and even covered in a foot of snow, it did not disappoint.
Trudging: It took me almost three hours to JEDgolff the front nine. Each step was an exercise. First you stepped into three inches of overnight powder, then your foot hit a layer of ice, then as your weight shifted forward, the ice would break and your foot would slam down another 6-24 inches, depending on the drifting. Snowshoes?
Searching: It's a minor miracle that I played the whole round with the same ball. When the ball landed, it would bust through the powder, then the ice, and burrow next to the ground... with the added challenge that all you could see was an approximately two inch round entry mark on the surface of the powder. Spent a lot of time trudging and searching.
Kneeling: Since there were three layers - powder, ice, packed snow - I had to kneel down or bend at each location, dig through the ice with my hands, feel around on the bottom layer, and pull the ball out. Sometimes it was burrowed into a layer of ice, making it difficult, through my clumsy gloves, to pinch my fingers around the ball to lift it out. The whole finding process took a while and covered my legs in frozen powder.
Placing: I relearned a lesson about powder - you basically gotta build a platform for your ball and GoPro at each location. For the first couple of holes, I forgot this, so when I'd put the GoPro down, it would sink in a couple inches to the frozen layer beneath. Same thing with the ball. Then I remembered the last time I played powder, and what you do is this:
Appreciating: The only reason I got to play George Dunne is that two people went above and beyond. I first went to River Oaks Golf Course in Calumet City, IL., which is also part of the Forest Preserve system. Tyrone, after shaking his head several times - "you want to do WHAT?" - said River Oaks didn't open til Monday. But he called Nicole at Forest Preserve, which is open all year "I am not messing with you, Nicole. This guy wants to play TODAY. He does this extreme golf and he's got a website and everything."
Turns out that Nicole was set to get off work at Forest Preserve at 1pm... and it was already 12:32.
"How long does it take to get to Forest Preserve?" I asked Tyrone.
"Half hour. But don't go back to 294. Stay on 162nd all the way to Central. Hang a left there. Now go."
At Cicero, I called Nicole and she waited for me. Tyrone and Nicole - thank you.
Sublime: Although there were issues with finding the ball, placing it, wet socks, frozen feet, and some really wicked hunger, the best way to describe playing Forest Preserve in a foot of snow on a glistening sunny day may be this - sublime, which Webster defines as: "of outstanding spiritual worth... tending to inspire awe." Yes, that's it. Sublime.
It's 12 below outside - without the windchill. And what a fitting way to send February away. According to Chicago weather savants, it's the coldest February on record. That goes back to the beginning of record-keeping some 126 years ago.
Now I know what you're thinking - it's a little too cold to JEDgolff. But think again. This is actually the perfect weather to JEDgolff. It's an opportunity.
…Anyways, on Wednesday (photo above) I JEDgolffed four holes at Wicker Park in Highland, Ind., a mile from my house. It is, more or less, my home course for JEDgolffing since Woodmar Country Club closed down. The reason I could only get in four holes was twofold. The going is still really slow. You're bundled up in a bunch of layers, and you have to lift your feet out of 9 inches of frozen snow for every step. It's not really running. More like trudging.
And you wind up looking for your ball a lot. If you hit the ball in the air, it hits the frozen snow and goes straight to the bottom. You have to know exactly where the tiny hole in the snow should be. And since the snow's been on the ground for a while, there's other little holes in the snow from deer, coyote, cross-country skiers, the occasional hiker and maintenance worker. You gotta pay attention and sometimes that's not even enough to find your ball.
JEDgolffed Scherwood Golf Course in Schererville, Ind. after work on Thursday, Feb. 19.
Alexis had a meeting in Indianapolis so I decided to tag along. We ate at St. Elmo's last night and then came back to watch the local Channel 4 news. The big story and the big panic was about the big freeze coming in overnight.
"Great," I said. "Below zero windchill. A little JEDgolff in the morning."
So Alexis went to an uneventful breakfast meeting and I drove around Indy trying to find a place to run. South Grove Golf Course was closed with a big chain link fence around it and a cop down the block eyeing me suspiciously. Coffin Golf Club - same thing, without the cop. Finally, I found Riverside, which I believe is a city course. There's no chain link around it and there was no one at the clubhouse, so, you know... sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
…On the course I couldn't really get a natural core swing but it had snowed a fluffy inch and there was a peaceful solitude so I got a natural high instead.