Prairie Dogs at Dusk

When I was in grad school at Texas Tech in the ’70s, the little golf I managed to squeeze into my schedule was in the late afternoons and evenings.

If I had a chance to get away early enough, I’d head out to Meadowbrook, a municipal course in MacKenzie Park in Lubbock. It was always windy when I teed off, but most days the wind would lay down near sunset. If you’ve ever spent time in Lubbock, you know how much you love it when the wind lays down.

That was when I enjoyed the course the most. The 18th fairway ran along the bottom of the hill that housed prairie dog town. For the uninitiated, that’s a fenced in area full of prairie dogs that is kind of like a zoo. But you can’t really contain prairie dogs, and their burrows would encroach into the fairway.

An alerted prairie dog sitting at the entrance...

Image via Wikipedia

Burrowing owls like to live in prairie dog holes, and playing the 18th at dusk was always interesting. Your ball would very rarely go down a burrow, but after banging a drive into the near dark it was a challenge to search the fairway and hope the ball was still above ground. It was a real sight to stroll the fairway as the owls emerged into the evening air.

After finishing, I might end up back at the library or the lab, or I might get lucky and get to go home and fix dinner. I became the cook in my family long ago, when my wife worked and I was in school, and we’d eat late many evenings. Golf could make it even later.

If I couldn’t get away early enough I’d head to Treasure Island, an 18 hole par 3 (actually, it had one very short par 4) with lights for night play. Friday Night Lights wasn’t football for me.

Treasure Island was the site of my only career ace, a feat witnessed by only me. I haven’t been back to Lubbock in a long time, but I hear that a Wal-Mart Supercenter now stands where the course used to be. My unattested ace on a baby golf course has faded completely from the earth.

These days I’m more of a dewsweeper.

The Dewsweepers by James Dodson

Morning rounds suit my schedule better, and the groups I play with tend to have early tee times. The guys tend to be retired or self-employed, and they too can fit an early round in more reliably than they can a late round. I can play golf, sit around with the guys for a while, and still have time for running errands or working on some project before the day is over. Then I can fix dinner and my wife and I can eat at our usual (now earlier) time. It’s much more efficient. Probably healthier, too.

But I still miss the course at twilight.

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