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Farmers at the golf course

Erica Louder for Progressive Forage Published on 12 July 2019
farmer golfing

Blue Lakes Country Club is a classy place. With its Snake River Canyon location, no jeans and collared shirts dress code, and its “only golf with a member” rule, it caters to the upper echelons of Magic Valley society. Yet, despite all its pretentions to Long Island sophistication, it’s located in the bread basket of Idaho farming country.

Sure, there are members who are business people and local politicians, but there are also a smattering of farmers who have memberships. And with that connection, Blue Lakes hosts our local Young Farmer and Rancher summer get-together (with the help of some very generous sponsors).

Now, I imagine the country club staff and the golf pros are used to a certain air of “I know what I am doing” attitude from the members. When the under-35 population of area farmers descend on the country club, all of that “I know what I am doing” expectation needs to fly straight out the hopper. Most of us could use all the help we can get when it comes to golfing, although we probably could fix the irrigation system and reseed the grass as well as the best groundskeeper. I know some of the group are legitimately decent golfers (you know, the ones who proposed the event), but the rest of us (particularly my team) – well, let’s just say it was a good thing we were playing “best ball.”

For us, the fiasco started with the tee time. Through some miscommunication we were an hour early. No big deal, we will hit some balls at the driving range. My husband, Craig, Mr. “I haven’t swung a club in 10 years,” had to rent a set of clubs. Forty dollars poorer, we hit the range. I am sure more than one person commented on the incongruity of the back of our golf cart – me with my $150 Target set and him with his “I have no idea how much, but I am sure that driver costs as much as a ton of premium alfalfa hay.”

Mr. “I haven’t swung a club in 10 years” initially surprised me with the length and accuracy he could hit a golf ball. But about a half a stack of balls later, he began complaining about a blister, and his game went progressively downhill; however, his ongoing conversation comparing our pasture to the golf turf was insightful. For a cattle producer, it is hard to see all that energy going to acres and acres of grass to only be mowed down to within an inch of its life. Fortunately, water is not an issue for us this year, but I can easily sympathize with the farmers who see the golf course watered at the expense of their crops.

When we did actually get to our game, it didn’t start off well. We hit off the number one tee box and, unbeknownst to us (at the time), began playing toward the number 10 flag. After we made par (albeit at the wrong hole), we looked for the number two tee box. The next one was the number 11 – that didn’t make sense. We asked the bone fide country club members behind us where the number two tee box was. They very politely informed us of our mistake.

After the initial start, it turned into a fun afternoon. The other two farmers that we golfed with took turns swinging Craig’s fancy set of clubs rather than their garage sale clubs. And, all things considered – thanks to one fairly decent golfer (who was not me nor Craig) – we actually finished below par for our round of 18.

It’s wasn’t easy to leave the page-long to-do list behind to spend an afternoon golfing, but I am glad we did. If you have a chance to sneak away from the farm this year, to swing a golf club or throw a baseball or cast a fishing line – take the opportunity. The work will be there when you get back, and I bet you deserve it.  end mark

Erica Louder is a freelance writer based in Idaho. Email Erica Louder.

PHOTO: Mr. “I haven’t swung a club in 10 years” displays his golf skills (or lack thereof) along with his farmer’s tan with the majestic Perrine Bridge spanning the canyon in the background. Photo by Erica Louder.