I woke up this morning with every intention of playing the historic Anaconda Hills in Black Eagle, Montana, my playing partner however were a little more hesitant.
Early this morning, one of the old-timers I had suckered into playing this morning called my phone and woke me up.
“Sean are we really playing GOLF today?” he asked.
“Absolutely, Hans. It’s going to be great.”
Minutes later, my other playing partner for the day and Hans’ best friend Steve Whisler called my phone as I was getting dressed in layers and layers of clothing.
“Are we really playing in this shit?” Steve asked. “I didn’t believe Hans when called me, so I figured I better call you.”
And I replied in the affirmative again.
You see the weather this morning wasn’t exactly what you’d call golf weather. It was fluctuating from a light drizzle to a heavy downpour every few seconds with a sharp and biting westerly wind that would cut right through the most expensive windbreaker. But we, or at least I was dead set on playing golf at Anaconda Hills today, and I’m damn glad we did.
Hans Fehres and Steve Whisler are your everyday municipal golf course dew sweepers. I know this because for two summers I played golf with those characters every day. They would take turns calling me at 6:30 in the morning to make sure I was on my way to the golf course, so I wouldn’t be late for the 7:07 AM tee time at Eagle Falls Golf Course.
Back in those days I used to work in the clubhouse in the afternoons and evenings, so I would play golf with Hans and Steve and a few other characters like Steve McAlpin, who we nicknamed “Happy” because he was always complaining about something new every day, and Jon Ulias who would quietly take three or four bucks off you by winning the carryover skins with an up-and-down par on the 18th hole.
After 18 holes with that crew, I would head home and eat breakfast, take a nap, and then head off to the golf shop around 12:30 until the course closed.
Then I’d do it all over again. Those were the days.
Well today was a chance to relive those days with two of my favorite people. Hans Fehres is a hard-of-hearing old man who’s never faded a golf ball in his life. He likes to a call his ball flight the “Hansie Hook” because it turns like left like a NASCAR driver and just runs its way up near the green. Steve Whisler was one of my golf coaches my senior year of high school and is also somewhat hard-of-hearing which adds to the volume when he hits a bad shot and his displeasure echoes around the golf course.
So, at 8:26 AM the three of us were standing on the first tee box at Anaconda Hills Golf Course with the whole place to ourselves. I’m quite confident the guy working in the pro shop wanted to have us committed when we showed up for our tee time.
But the three of us trapesed around the historic front nine at Anaconda Hills and hit tee shots into fairways that didn’t budge after they landed, chipped onto greens when we couldn’t fully feel our hands, and may have putted a ball or two into cups that were filled with rainwater. And we laughed our way through the coldest nine holes of our lives.
They say a bad day of golf is better than a good day of work, and I’d like to think my retiree friends would agree with that statement even if they’re golf shoes will never fully dry out.
Golf shoes can be replaced but another chance to play golf with Hans and Steve cannot. Even if it took some convincing to get them there.
Follow Montana’s Longest Drive on Facebook and Instagram at @MontanasLongestDrive
A special thank you to the Connie Caouette and the staff at Anaconda Hills Golf Course for letting us three crazy guys play golf in this weather.