June golf? Strike while irons are hot

People in my neighborhood who use Horizon Drive to get to and from our local Albertsons, or to jump on the 515 freeway, sometimes have to avoid errant golf balls.

There’s a hole running parallel to Horizon on the Black Mountain Golf Club in Henderson. During daylight hours I see threesomes and foursomes teeing off and hacking away on what I call the Road Hole — which is not to be confused with the Road Hole at the Old Course at St. Andrews.

It has been at least two weeks since I’ve seen threesome and foursomes — or even an odd twosome — teeing off on and hacking away on the Road Hole at Black Mountain.

It’s the weather, man. It’s just too hot for threesomes and foursomes, or even the odd twosome.

Yes, it gets hot here every year. Yes, we’re mostly used to it.

If you play golf, you just play through the swelter.

At least you needn’t fret about freight trains rumbling through the back nine and three-putting from 12 feet because the greens are brown.

But when I drove into the parking lot at Black Mountain, there were only two cars. One was mine, and there weren’t any golf clubs in back. Nobody, as far as I could see, was playing through the swelter.

The temperature app on my cellphone said it was 113 degrees at 3 p.m.

This would have been Thursday. It could have just as easily been Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

The golf course appeared forlorn. It was eerily quiet, except for the theme song from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” that was playing in my head.

Finally, a sign of life.

A greenskeeper, or someone like him, emerged from the cart shack. He said there were only five carts on the course, and two chariots on fire.

When the weather isn’t hotter than a disco inferno, there usually are a lot more carts on Black Mountain. Scott “Real” Diel, the club pro, said in May they averaged 200 rounds.

They weren’t going to make 200 on Thursday.

It was a little busier in the morning, Diel said. It probably would pick up a little after 4 p.m., when you can play nine holes at Black Mountain for $9. You’ll have to provide your own asbestos suit, though.

That sounds like a pretty good deal, at least if your name is Johnny Storm and your alter ego is The Human Torch.

Diel said there’s another special running at Black Mountain, from June 1 through Sept. 7, where one pays $250 for all the golf one can play. Flame on!

“The course is in the best shape it’s been in in a long time,” Diel said. He said when it’s hotter than H-E-double- hockey-sticks, you’ve got to water a little longer, and hit the hot spots, and hope the bunkers don’t spontaneously combust.

For as torrid as it has been, the course did appear in fine shape. I only made it as far as the No. 1 fairway, though, because I didn’t have a canteen and buzzards were circling.

Actually, it wasn’t a buzzard that was circling. The greenskeeper, or someone like him, said it was a red-tailed hawk. This particular bird of prey was flying low, probably because there weren’t any shanked Titleists or Maxflis with which to contend.

Diel is from San Diego, but he’s been here a few years, and so the heat doesn’t bother him much. He said when he went to the Electric Daisy Carnival last week with some pals from San Diego, he took a jacket. I think he was joking.

He said it must be hotter than usual, though, because when he made mimosas on the practice tee to entice the ladies to come out for his weekly clinic, only two came out. About 10 stayed in the clubhouse and drank mimosas there.

But if playing golf when the putting green is on fire is no big deal, then why wasn’t the club pro out there pounding the fairways, or at least trying to extinguish them?

Scott Diel said he had played earlier. He shot 66 — the ball rolls from here to Boulder City when fairways are hot and dry. He also said he saw a red-tailed hawk having a rabbit for breakfast.

As I was leaving for Gatorade and a swimming pool, a golf cart sputtered toward the practice green.

In a few minutes, an odd twosome, young men named Aaron and Ian, would make it six carts on Black Mountain. They had that frightened look in their eye, like Eli Wallach before Clint Eastwood shot him out of the hangman’s noose at the end of the spaghetti western.

The one named Aaron said he couldn’t hit a golf ball very well when it was cold outside, so he thought he might change his luck. He said their friends thought they were insane to be playing golf on a day like this. The one named Ian nodded and tried to act cool.

I checked the app on my cellphone. It still was 113 degrees. I wished them well, neglecting to mention the red-tailed hawk and the rabbit.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.

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