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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Guest Blog - Alan Gard on Anticipation

May 26, 2011 – Day (8): Anticipation Rising
8 days.  That is what separates me from my visit to the Kingsley Club.  The lead-up to a golf trip is almost better than the trip itself.  It’s that time where you can’t wait to get up in the morning because that is one less day between you and your trip.  You still have the optimism that somehow, someway you’ll be able to put up some good rounds even though you haven’t played a lot or been playing well leading up to the trip.  It’s that knowledge that for those days, your only responsibility is to help your playing partners find their golf balls.  As one gets older and has more and more stresses in life, that golf trip is an oasis. And seeing that oasis in the desert’s distance is where one feels the biggest rush; it’s not usually when you taste the water.
Kingsley is one of those special oases.  It is most importantly a fun golf course.  You have options, punchbowl greens, quirky bounces, long holes, short holes and everything in between.  It is not an easy course, but you aren’t going to be brutalized either.  It’s the kind of course that you don’t mind playing over and over during the course of a trip.  And it is a course worthy of anticipation.
This journey to Kingsley started back in 2008 with a bittersweet beginning.  The Kingsley Golfer and I played in a charity event benefiting Bob Labbance who was suffering from Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  The need for the occasion was the bitter part.  The sweet part was how people came out to support Bob, with many there like us who didn’t even know him in advance of that day.  Many people had donated items, and one of the auction items was a round at Kingsley with the architect, Mike DeVries.  I wasn’t that familiar with Kingsley, but a little research showed it to be a course well worth experiencing.  The Kingsley Golfer won the bidding, I wrote the check, and we then had a golf trip to plan.
And that trip to Kingsley turned out to be a very special one.  To be fair, by the time we got to Kingsley, I was already on a high.  The previous morning, in the Charlevoix, MI, McDonald’s, I was on the phone with my wife, and she told me she was pregnant with our now 2-year-old son.  But absent such life-changing news, Kingsley would still have been just as impressive.  
I didn’t play very well on the day, but still had some very memorable holes including birdieing the short par-4 13th and getting up-and-down for par on the wonderfully difficult 15th.  Even some bad shots were memorable, such as when I putted off the 16th green, which prompted my favorite quote of the day from Mike DeVries, “Sorry.”  Playing with the architect added a lot to the experience; I got so much more insight on how to play the course than what I could tell just by seeing the course with my own eyes.  After finishing that day, I was fulfilled but also sad as I didn’t know if I would ever get the chance to play it again.  Thank goodness The Kingsley Golfer has a very understanding wife and that he is so generous with an invitation.
So now I am left with 8 days before my return trip.  It’s fitting that I write this today with The Kingsley Golfer’s favorite number being 8.  Just a little over a week until I get to walk those fairways and hills, curse at those bunkers, and try to figure out those greens. And even though those 8 days will seem long, they will be some of the best days of my year.

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