It’s the smell of fresh cut grass.
It’s the way the first tee feels, alive with possibility.
It’s that feeling, out of nowhere, that comes as you’re lining up a putt, letting you know that all you have to do is get the ball rolling and the hole got in the way
It’s the thump of a well-played bunker shot.
It’s nine holes late in the day, when the sun is sinking and the shadows are stretching, showing every bump and roll in a golden light that makes you stop and look around.
It’s the Golf Channel on in the corner of the bar.
It’s calling your shot and pulling it off.
It’s the eighth hole at Grandfather, the third at Linville and the 14th at Balsam Mountain, paintings with a flagstick in the middle.
It’s your Saturday morning game, with a little money on the line and no haggling about the teams.
It’s the guys who look like they can’t play a lick then spend their days around par, not needing swing coaches, just having a knack for getting the ball in the hole.
It’s calling your own penalties.
It’s a kid with his bag slung over his shoulder, cap pulled low, hoofing it down a fairway.
It’s nipping a wedge just right, having it bounce once and cozy up to the hole the way Sergio does it.
It’s a bowl of peanuts and a cold beer at the end of the day, when stories can be embellished if only a little.
It’s the warm feel of a turtleneck in December, the first greening of the grass in March, the thrill of hitting it a club longer in July and greens as fast as the kitchen floor in October.
It’s the suntan marks left by your golf socks and shoes.
It’s Harbour Town in April, Quail Hollow in May and Pinehurst (Sea Island) anytime.
It’s having the sun behind you and catching a tee shot square, having a moment to admire it as it’s framed against the sky.
It’s the small but sudden thrill of finding a new Titleist, even if you already have a bagful.
It’s the clutch in your throat the first time you see St. Andrews and the never-ending thrill of Amen Corner.
It’s the belief that the magic you’ve found in a new driver will last forever.
It’s the scent of salt air, the faint taste of pine pollen on your lips and the glimpse of a gator in a low country lagoon.
It’s standing over a 5-footer that doesn’t matter to anyone but you and being thankful for the feeling.
It’s Tiger on the tee, Mickelson with a wedge in his hand, Nicklaus on the property.
It’s the little places with pickups in the parking lot, ragged grass, bumpy greens, worn-out golf carts, yellow range balls and a spirit all their own.
It’s the way you practice your swing in the elevator riding down, the way you put an overlapping grip on the rake and the way you see golf holes where others just see fields along the highway.
It’s the way tournament golf feels, even if it’s just a little club event.
It’s the feel of new grips and the shine of new irons.
It’s playing with your father, your brother or your daughter.
It’s listening to David Feherty, Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo explain the game as only they can.
It’s the gentle creak of aging muscles in the evening, a good tired.
It’s a birdie at the 18th to win the press.
It’s having people who understand what’s important, whether it’s renovating a course or reinventing a local tournament.
It’s going for a par-5 in two, trying to cut a corner and that instant when you wonder if the shot is as good as it looks.
And, It’s Why We Play!