I’m not a golfer but I believe golf courses are beautiful places – especially in the winter.
The Northland Country Club, with its stately white clubhouse, was established off Superior Street around the last Turn-of-the-Century. Today the 18-hole, 6,825-yard course stands as a gateway to the Lakeside neighborhood of Duluth.
We live just behind the 446-yard 16th hole. In fact, if someone struck a 7-iron approach shot too hard and it cleared the trees, there’s a chance the ball could bounce off 40th Street and wind up in our yard.
But that’s not going to happen in January.
Earlier this morning, I strapped on some ice cleats and headed over to the course. Under a grove of well-manicured pines and leafless deciduous trees, I passed two women walking in snow shoes. Before me was a small, mostly frozen creek, some steep hills and open fairways.
I walked deep into the course, angled toward a stand of snow-frosted cedars and plowed my way to a towering wall of driving range nets at the top of a hill. Somewhere between the netting and the third-hole tee boxes, I found my picture: Five skinny pine trees set apart from everything else. They looked like basketball players standing on a court covered in white snow. Evergreens on a rocky cliff cheered in the background.
On my way back, I ran into a flock of birds. Flycatchers? Kingbirds? Vireo? Who knows. They sported washed out yellow bellies and tweeted a happy sound. I watched them flit around the naked tree tops and take off en masse. There must have been 50. The birds looped around once and then raced out over the course. It looked like someone dropped a teaspoon of pepper in a bowl of milk and swirled it around. Then the birds evaporated into the grey morning sky.
No you don’t need a set of titanium clubs, a $1,000 bag and a sleeve of Titleists to appreciate a golf course.
Turns out, you don’t even need grass.