Consumed by the challenge

The wind could be whipping, the clouds approaching, the ground soaking from a downpour, but that never mattered to my grandpa during his time on the golf course.
He'd walk off the 18th hole -- his poncho dripping with water, his shoes caked with mud, his hat just a little heavier from the dampness -- with a smile on his face.
At least that's how I imagine it happening, and you know why? Because, according to my grandpa, it never rains on the golf course. That is one of his many slogans relating to this game played and loved by so many.
Years later, I'm fortunate enough to appreciate what he means. Sometimes, simply, there's no better place to be than on the golf course, and nothing among those 18 holes can ruin the time spent there.
But why does this game draw so many to its courses?
Darkness falls
Maybe it's the night before a round, dreaming about the endless possibilities of what could happen when that first ball is struck. In the movie, "The Legend of Bagger Vance," we're told that inside every golfer's soul lies the ability to discover that perfect swing, that perfect rhythm of motion that brings out the best golf shot. Maybe it's that hope the night before that drives us.
Or maybe it's the early-morning alarm clock that doesn't sound quite so alarming like every other morning. Instead, it serves as a pleasant message that the tee time has drawn closer.
Maybe it's that morning drive to the course and the anticipation that runs through one's veins or the raised awareness from the senses that enables us to enjoy the landscape along the road -- the green grass, the encompassing trees.
Or maybe it's those precious few minutes in the parking lot when a doctor, a teacher, an accountant, a custodian, a salesman transform themselves into golfers -- the clubs are revealed and the shoe laces are tied tightly. The sound of cleats knocking pavement only confirms this transformation.
Maybe it's standing on the first tee box, the driver in hand, the open land and fairway ahead. A glove is secure against one's skin, and the grip around the club makes it feel as if the parts have come together to complete the whole.
Or maybe it's the precious few seconds when the ball is addressed and the playing partners stand in the background in silence, watching a new action about to unfold.
The rhythm of the swing begins as the club is taken back and paused at the top, the body weight is shifted and the club begins its downswing and follow-through. It is this action that creates the potential for every ball to be struck squarely.
Maybe it's the feeling a golfer gets upon impact between club and ball, the smoothness and pureness of watching the ball sail hundreds of yards through the air before landing crisply on the grass.
Or maybe it's the softness of walking on the fairway, the shortness of the grass and the view of one's ball sitting rewardingly in it, ready to be met again and again.
Maybe it's the challenge presented with each and every shot, calculating distance and figuring which club will be pulled next from the bag.
Or maybe it's the time during which a ball is in flight approaching the green. Seemingly, the ball has been skied to the clouds, and only the shot maker truly knows whether it was struck well enough to land on the green.
Maybe it's the simple pleasure of fixing the mark of the ball, whose landing dug into the green and tore grass away.
Or maybe it's putting and rolling the ball cleanly across the green with the goal to complete the hole. It's watching the ball disappear into the cup and the unbridled emotion felt that causes some to yell out or raise their arms.
Other factors
Maybe it's the ebbs and flows, the trickiness, the unpredictability, the roller-coaster ride of emotions that golf creates every time out. There are moments when everything goes right and everything goes wrong.
Or maybe it's the people with which we play the game, the ones who taught us and the ones with whom we share the same experience now. They're the ones who tell jokes and create slogans that stand the test of time, that last long enough to tell others.
Maybe it's that addiction to the challenge that brings us back and makes us do it all over again.
XBrian Richesson is a sports writer for The Vindicator. Write to him at

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