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Has it been hot enough for you?

Extreme heat makes this season flash by for this golfer

I have a feeling we're going to remember the summer of 2006 for a long time.

Been hot enough for you? We're running out of adjectives but playing golf in these positively steamy conditions for such a long, sustained stretch of time has been interesting. On the plus side, it takes only about two or three swings on the practice range and we're fully loosened up and ready to go.

Our creaky golfing buddies with arthritis have been loving it.

Other positives? Let's see, beverage sales are up, I'm sure, at most courses. I'm guessing soap sales at Target, Walmart and other stores are up, also; there's lots of salty golfers heading home for showers after nine or 18 holes in this heat.

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A final positive? It's been much more pleasant stepping on the bathroom scale lately. I don't even have to feel bad about the Nordic Trac sitting in the basement I haven't used for three years.

Golfers learn to drink plenty of water while playing under these conditions although, even fully hydrated, the intense heat can get to you. It got me last Friday. I'm not talking heat stroke, been there and done that, no fun. No, I'm talking about a different kind of heat-related incident.

Our 12:30 p.m. tee time maybe wasn't the smartest as it's around 3:30 p.m. and approximately 95 degrees as we climb the steep hill to the 14th green. Beads of sweat are a rolling. I mark my ball. Got about a 12 footer for birdie. I kneel down behind the ball and line up my putt. "Looks like a bit of break from left to right, maybe just outside the left edge, OK time to knock one in."

I begin to rise from my crouch. I see my summer flash before my eyes.

Realizing I'm a bit lightheaded from the heat, I decide to go with it. The birdie putt can wait. Here's what I see:

June 18, Northfield -- Playing the second round of an annual two-day, two-man tourney with Tim, an old golfing buddy of mine from Owatonna. We've played in the event for at least 10 years. Kinda sad this time, though, as we realize next year we'll have to break down and rent a cart like every other team in the field. Seems like the Spanish armada zooming up and down every fairway with all the carts.

When did riding carts become OK for tournament golf?

Guess I'm just old school. I've got no problem with carts in general, just don't think they should be used in tournaments.

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June 18 Rochester -- Last round of the U.S. Open. I purposely didn't listen to radio on the way home, didn't want to spoil it. Got a tape waiting for me. Can't wait to watch my guy Phil win his third major in a row.

Ouch. Felt so bad for the guy I even had trouble falling asleep that night. Then I reminded myself he's a zillionaire with a great family and already has won three majors.

But still, all you needed to do was make a bogey Phil.

July 10 Dallas -- I arrive in "Big D'' to play in a week-long tournament. Never been to Dallas before. I left a friendly dock on a northern lake for this? One hundred degrees every day with strong south winds. Played crummy. 14-plus hour car ride home waiting for me.

Did learn one thing in Dallas, though. Learned those hand-held laser yardage tools are the future of golf. I was against them in principle, until I tried one for 18 holes. Totally cool. Speeds up the game, too. No need to pace off yardages any more. Only problem is they don't work too well from the middle of the trees. Note to self: try to stay out of the trees more often.

I arrive back in Minnesota thinking it will be cooler. Wrong. Golfing buddies accuse me of bringing the heat back from Texas. Nice. I plead innocent. Talk to Randy Brock or Ken Quatrin, I say.

July 16 Byron -- Last round of the Nationwide Tour event at Somerby. I had followed Brandt Snedeker's group for 10 holes on Friday. Looked like a winner to me then. Guy swings like a machine, beautiful tempo. Needing eagle on the 72nd hole to force a playoff, he comes through. Mr. Clutch earns a cool $99,000.

July 24 Waterloo, Iowa -- Thirty-six; hole U.S. Amateur qualifier at Sunnyside Country Club. Some 80 guys playing for three spots. Not good odds. Temperature running in mid 90's again. First round going great, even through 12 holes. Pull a 6-iron left on the 13th hole . . . next came the sound no golfer wants to hear.

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B-O-I-N-G.

Off the cart path, out of bounds. Proceed to chunk provisional into a pond. Two-putt for a quadruple bogey. Now I've got 23 holes to go and basically have no chance. Sure glad I got up at 4 a.m. to drive down here now. Just then I remember a favorite saying of our youngest daughter: "Dad, cry me a river, build me a bridge and get over it."

Smart girl.

"Hey Pete, it's your turn to putt, you OK?" I hear a playing partner ask as I begin to regain my senses on the 14th green, the blood returning to my brain. "I'm good," I reply weakly. I replace my ball, take a practice stroke, then pull it left of the hole and tap in for par.

I wipe the sweat off my brow and move on to the next hole.

Greg Peterson is a six-time winner of the Rochester City Tournament. He writes a bi-weekly golf column and can be reached at sports@postbulletin.com

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