SAN ANTONIO -- The forecast, as usual, called for hot and dry -- no mention of rain. Incredibly, around the 13th hole, during the Texas Golf Writers Association's opening round on the Resort Course at the Westin La Cantera Resort, the sky darkened and we got this message on the GPS screen: "Inclement weather on the way: Play at your own peril (or something like that)."
A few years ago, we held our annual meeting and championship at the Westin La Cantera and sat in our rooms for the better part of two days because we busted a drought with 12 inches of rain. In fact, we determined our champion that year by playing a dice game called "Go-Low." In 20 years of playing in the TGWA Tournament, it was the only time I could call myself a TGWA winner, and it took a roll of the dice. Apparently, all you need to end a drought is the Texas Golf Writers.
But back to Sunday afternoon: We got the initial warning, and we played on. A hole later, we got another message from the clubhouse on our golf cart: "Front on the way: We strongly recommend you return to the clubhouse."
Apparently, the recommendation wasn't strong enough for us knuckleheads. We forged on. After all, our group was playing well in the shamble format, and I had a putt for eagle on the par-5 14th hole. It seemed like the storm was still a pretty good ways off, but just as I was lining up my 40-footer, a simultaneous bolt of lightning and booming thunder sent another message: "Get the (bleep) off the golf course – NOW!"
Common sense should have prevailed, but I figured I was already there and survived, so I might as well hurry up and putt. I ask our host to tend the flag.
I left the hurried putt six feet short, then rushed up to bang the birdie putt and somehow drilled it in the middle. Relief, until two seconds later, another near miss nearly lifted us off the green. This time, we got the message, ran to our carts and drove as fast we could to an on-course restroom, where four other groups were huddled.
The storm passed quickly, we finished our round and headed into the clubhouse to chow down on Tuna Napoleon, Sea Bass Vera Cruz, buffalo tenderloin and Diablo Quail like nothing had happened.
To this day, Lee Trevino will tell you he shouldn't have made the statement that "if you're caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, just hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron."
That was shortly before he was zapped at the 1975 Western Open. My guess is that these days, Trevino is off the course as soon as he hears a faint sound of thunder or sees a flash in the distance. But we shouldn't need to be struck or even have a close call to make that decision.
I should have known better, having had another close call 20 years ago. Now, I've been lucky twice. I don't think I want to find out if the third time is a charm.
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