The Palouse

Most things I’ve written about have been fairly serious. It’s important to take a breather sometimes and discuss the fun parts of this journey. Having cerebral palsy is a challenge most days and I began the blog to talk about those challenges. However, I’m fortunate to spend time away from home having fun. Most trips throughout my life have involved golf. Whether gone for a week on a tropical vacation or a quick weekend journey, golf is usually played. A couple weeks ago my brother and I took such a weekend trip. The sole purpose of the trip was to play a single golf course. The plan was to drive into town and play Friday afternoon, then play again Saturday afternoon, returning home on Sunday. The Palouse Ridge is one of my brother’s favorite golf courses and for years he has wanted us to travel over to Pullman and play it.

The excitement for this trip has been building over the years. My brother loved the course from the first time he played it and has been wanting me to experience it. I was excited as well, as my brother has a good track record for picking good golf courses. We traveled the five hours across the state of Washington through an endless picture of wheat fields. Upon arriving the sky looked a little dark and the wind was blowing. We considered sitting out the Friday afternoon round, but having driven such a long distance and being the gamers we are it was worth a try. If the weather drove us back to the hotel at least we would have given it a try.

It was the middle of October in Pullman, Washington. We were surrounded by wheat field and the fall wind was biting. It was a good day for becoming familiar with a golf course. The weather wasn’t ideal to score, so I didn’t even try. We got caught in a downpour for a couple seconds. As it passed through we took shelter in the golf cart. The clouds were dark most of the day, drifting by without dropping more rain. The wind dropped the temp a few degrees, but luckily I had dressed accordingly with enough layers to survive the afternoon. Sometimes wind and cold can lock up my body making it difficult to overcome my cerebral palsy. Any inclement weather can exacerbate the symptoms I fight against throughout my body. In this case I was prepared and moving freely despite the temperature. The brisk fall air was almost refreshing on that Friday afternoon and Saturday was predicted to be sunny and seventy.

The course looked interesting driving through the entrance on Friday afternoon. We walked into the small, beautifully constructed clubhouse, checked-in, and were given our first tee instructions. To my surprise the first two tee shots were going to be blind. On the first tee we were told to keep our tee shots on the left side of the fairway, as it runs downhill from left to right. The landing zone would not be visible. Off the second tee we were instructed to aim toward the right side of a stake in the center of the fairway. Again the landing zone would not be visible and the fairway gives way to a steep ledge on the left. Being a more traditional golfer I enjoy courses where everything is in front of me, without blind shots or trickery. I like being able to see everything. I’ve always felt my brother and I shared this view, so when walking away from instructions on two blind shots it’s possible I gave my brother a look of puzzlement thinking, “are you sure about this course?”

I found the first two holes to be a little weird. They seemed designed awkwardly and I walked off the second green with the same thought I had on the first tee. The first two holes were cool, but holes I felt like I’d seen before and probably not worth a five-hour drive. I remember commenting to my brother the first two holes were kinda cool, had I been completely honest, in hindsight he could have turned to me and said, “just wait for it!” It happened when we drove up to the third tee. The third tee was elevated and the hole was visibly straight out in front of us. Nothing was hidden and you could almost hear the course architect saying, “here it is, let’s see what you can do!”

The remaining sixteen holes of the Palouse Ridge followed the same pattern. There were breathtaking holes with elevated tee shots. The tee shots you get in the air and want to stand there watching instead of bending down to pick up your tee. Well placed bunkers and challenging golf shots where wayward misses caused difficult recoveries. As I wound through the course with my favorite golfing buddy, everywhere we looked was a delicious view of rolling farm land. After spending a couple days around the golf course it lived up to its billing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to another weekend trip next summer.

Cerebral palsy is a challenging disability. Even during a fun weekend trip it provides obstacles. I still play from a forward tee and struggle a little more with the endurance required to play two days in a row. However, these challenges only provide opportunities to improve, as I continue building strength to hit the golf ball a little further and have the strength to maintain balance on the final hole of the weekend. I’m thankful for a brother who enjoys traveling and playing golf with me even with the added challenges. I’ve been blessed to play many great golf courses around the world and would tell you the Palouse Ridge is up there in my top 10. If the opportunity arises to go play, it’s a golf course probably not to be missed.

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