On a recent trip to the Poconos Mountains, a therapeutic expanse of hilly, lush Pennsylvania greenspace equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia, I encountered a doughy and salty part of my past at a convenience store checkout.
Everything about a Wawa soft pretzel proved as delectable as I remembered. They are sold in pairs and cost less than $2 for a two-pack. The first bite resembles the last bite; they start and stay good. They are a terrible tandem for a middle-aged man whose metabolism is slowing. I foolishly consumed three two-packs during a four-day hiking, biking, picnicking and paddling trip in early June. Somehow, I became hungrier after consuming one pretzel. One-part snacks became two-part gorges. To its credit, Wawa also sells the pretzels in singles in the same high-traffic part of its stores. I can’t blame a business for my misguided gluttony.
Upon returning home, I felt like a Tour caddie lugging a player’s bag on a humid 36-hole day. Neighborhood jogs and walks on the trail across the street from the Golf Course Industry headquarters turned into June slogs. I realized the 41-year-old version of myself can’t make it through the hottest 100 days of the year when stuffed with the wrong fuel.
The turf maintenance community spends extraordinary time, effort and money concocting and executing programs to ensure greens, approaches, fairways, tees and rough endure this current 100-day stretch. Decades of solid decisions and terrific education allow turf to survive human-created stresses stemming from a desire to make greens faster and approaches and fairways firmer.
Manipulating nature isn’t easy on the mind or body. Talented people leave the industry because of human stress associated with summer conditioning demands. Once a group of highly-trained professionals proves a specific product can be presented, there’s no retreat. Unless the the game’s governing body in the United States intervenes, which is highly likely considering myriad challenges facing its new leadership, superintendents and their teams will continue chasing speeds and playing conditions that are neither healthy for turf nor for the people maintaining it.
What is within your control to make this 100-day stretch more tolerable? Here’s an idea: stop eating soft pretzels two-packs.
The people who pay the bills will never fully understand the summer stresses faced by turf and the people who maintain. But the professionals in this industry should know every peril lurking in June, July, August and September.
Preparing and maintaining your body with same calculated care you put into keeping playing surfaces alive will make summer less daunting. This commitment requires programs and planning. You prepare turf for tough moments, right? Why wouldn’t you put the same level of attention into your body and mind? The two-pack is convenient — you buy it in a convenience store! When making decisions for the course, are you doing the best thing, or the most convenient thing?
Eating right, exercising frequently and getting proper rest requires discipline. This pretzel-eating editor doesn’t have all the answers. I do know l handle deadlines and demands better when I eat two slices of watermelon instead of two soft pretzels. I’m also learning more gets accomplished when I leave the office and take a 20-minute walk on the trail across the street.
We’re all flawed and slips occur. There will be days when I eat both pretzels and get too busy to walk or run them off. As we age, our bodies change. I’m slowly and sometimes painfully beginning to realize I can’t treat my body like I did 20, 15, 10 or even five years ago. Too much is at stake to keep doing the convenient thing.