Fore! (And After) 

When I think of golf, I think of the perfect backdrop for an afternoon nap. I think of the flat screen in my basement, tuned to the PGA Tour, the deep-cushioned sofa cradling me in the fetal position, and the air conditioner creating enough of a chill that I can burrow under a Polarfleece throw without over-heating. The mild-mannered announcers call the game in their most distinguished indoor voices like a lullaby whispering me off to sleep.

Much to my chagrin, my idealized vision of this more-of-a-hobby-than-a-sport sport dissolved like sugar in scalding coffee when my husband persuaded me to accompany him to Boise's only par-three course on a recent Tuesday morning. Lured by the promise of a sunny vitamin-D infusion during the match and a lunch date after the game, I thought I had little to lose. My only investment was time, itself a hot commodity as the pace of our ever-shrinking world gets faster and faster.

Time is something few of us can afford to squander. However, Pierce Park Greens (5812 N. Pierce Park Lane, Boise, 208-853-3302, pierceparkgreens.com) is something of a time-saving anomaly in the world of driving and putting. For starters, there is no advance commitment because you don't have to reserve a tee-time. Although generally a fan of structure and schedules, I was immediately intrigued by the idea that golf could promote spontaneity. But even better than the lack of tee-times is the fact that the course has only nine holes—it's a short-course secluded gem in a community largely populated by traditional 18-hole courses. Quick mental arithmetic: our round should only take half as long as a full round.

My enthusiasm snowballed as we drove down the unpretentious dirt driveway set deeply off Pierce Park Road. Shrouded by dense foliage, the entrance to the course is easy to miss if you're not looking for it, but the tunnel of trees quickly gives way to acres of grass, cut short-and-tight and peppered with sand bunkers.

After a relatively quick game, in which I scored well over par on each hole, I was still inclined toward the fetal position—not so much in need of a nap as crippled by the frustration experienced by golfers of all levels. The ball simply didn't go where I wanted it to go.

Nevertheless, I appreciated the fundamental joys of fresh air, blue skies and that intense sensation that results from a flawless hit. I think Kevin Costner said it best in the movie Tin Cup, when he described the perfect golf swing as "a living sculpture, down through contact, always down, striking the ball crisply, with character. A tuning fork goes off in your heart and your balls. Such a pure feeling is the well-struck golf shot."

I also adore the opportunity for strident fashion statements. Where else can you reasonably wear plaid pants with a striped shirt and a solid sweater-vest? Furthermore, the Dutch Goose is a short hop down the road from Pierce Park Greens, and with two-for-one sandwiches on Tuesdays, I can think of no better way to unwind after a game of golf. Or after a nap.

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