By Robert Bicknell

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March 12, 2006

Time to drip...

Wet socks, dripping pants, water running down the back of your neck inside your shirt, shoes making a weird "squishing" sound when you walk, slippery grips, illegible scorecards, embedded balls, short drivesÖ

Yes, Spring has arrived.

While I refuse to play golf in the rain, except if its one of the few tournaments I participate in each year, I can fully understand why courses remain full on weekends, even when itís miserable out there.

No choice. Weekendís are for relaxing and after spending a week of bashing your head against the walls running a business, you need to relax Ė even if conditions are not optimum.

When I was young, the weather didnít matter, except for lightning as I learned that lesson the hard way. But, I was impervious to rain, sun, wind, cold, heat because I loved playing golf so much. I even teed off one afternoon a few hours before a hurricane was due to make landfall in the area. That was a lot of fun.

Imagine 425 yard drives in one direction and 100 yard drives in the other. The trick was to keep it low because even a bit too high meant "the elevator". I remember hitting a sand wedge that day 50 yards from the green and my shot landing 10 yards BEHIND me.

After the round, I jumped in my car and drove like a bat out of hell to a safer location. I might be crazy, but Iím not entirely stupid.

So, when I see members and guests slogging around out there on a miserable day, I have to smile. Inside every man is a little boy who enjoys playing in the mud and jumping in puddles.

A few years ago at Thu Duc, I played with some friends after a heavy rain and if memory serves, someone intentionally stomped a large puddle as I was walking past it, drenching me from head to foot. It was probably Bob Van Mol, but Iím getting old and cannot remember clearly. Yet, it is something he would do for a laugh.

Playing golf during wet weather can be fun, providing you maintain your perspective about the whole thing and keep a good sense of humour.

First of all, remember that everyone is experiencing the same conditions, so donít panic. Your friends are suffering just as much as you are, but, you can make the round more pleasant by preparing for it in advance.

Make sure you are properly equipped. Waterproof shoes, an umbrella with either wood or fibreglass shaft and ribs (metal ribs increase your odds of getting hit by lightning), and extra socks and gloves. You can keep your glove dry between shots by hanging it from the ribs inside your umbrella.

Also, buy a good rain suit. Gore-Tex is a good material as its lightweight, water proof and "breathes". Rubberised suits are horrible. You get wetter inside from sweating than from the rain outside. Stay away from them.

Secondly, keep a few small towels in your bag, because no matter how hard you try, no matter how careful your caddie is, you will still need to wipe your grips dry from time to time. Also remember, grips donít only get wet from rain coming down, they also get wet from water seeping into the golf bag through the little breather holes in the bottom.

Hereís a neat trick that I learned a long time ago. Stick a tee into the hole on the top of the grip, then put it back into the bag. The tee keeps the grip from coming into contact with the bottom of the wet bag. Try it sometime Ė it works.

On most courses, wet weather means very little roll on the ball, so carry distance is important. The first hole, especially the green, will give you a good idea of what youíre facing out there. If the green is relatively soft, you can fly the ball closer to the flag as it wonít run too much after landing.

Remember the rule regarding "casual water" (Rule 25-1), it will save you a lot of misery during the round.

Now, my children, go play in the mud and have fun!

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