Some area players took in one more round Tuesday before most courses closed due to the storm

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The photos have filtered through social media as Hurricane Florence sets to take aim on our corner of the world. Golfers walking serene courses, squeezing in one last round before the storm, uncertain when the next birdie may come.

Tuesday evening at the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course, a dozen hearty souls walked, pull cart in tow or bag on their shoulder, down fairways lush from summer sun and abundant rain. They made unhurried swings to flagless greens on the closed layout. The parking lot was calm. The pro shop was dark. Strange clouds drifted above.

Gazing out across our cherished Donald Ross gem, meandering amid towering pines in an asphalt sea, we felt certain it’s never looked better. We hope to recognize her natural beauty when the sky clears and the wind fades.

The courses in the area closed one by one as the storm track came into focus. Each will face myriad issues in the weeks and months ahead. Fallen trees, damaged structures, flooded greens and tees are certain. So is the inevitable loss of revenue at a time when each course needs every penny, counting on this season when daylight is copious, temperatures are cooling and putts roll true.

Golf course superintendents, already the guts and soul of any course, will absorb more responsibility, racing against the end of the growing season. They’ll run chainsaw crews, rebuild bunkers, drain water, doing whatever is required, working dawn-to-dusk to nurture their turf to health and make the layout whole again. As if they haven’t endured enough in 2018 between the record cold and epic rain. Buy ‘em a drink or pat ‘em on the back, at least shake their calloused hand next time you see one around.

We will all need a similar spirit soon.

The days have been heavy ones and the days ahead are certain to be fraught with darkness. Some packed their clubs and headed out of town. Others decided to stick around.

Neighbors have already come together, making plans to look out for one another as the wind howls and the rain pounds the earth. There will be wreckage and sadness.

Golf is supposed to provide a reprieve from life’s stress, although it doesn’t always work out that way.

A four-hour round offers a break from the mundane, a place to share a laugh with friends, exercise our muscles and minds, challenge ourselves to chase perfection or pursue improvement. We’re hoping to bottle the sensation that produced the perfect draw off the 14th tee or capture what we felt before lofting a flop shot over the bunker and next to the pin.

But what it also teaches, when we’ll pay attention, is the ongoing quest to rebound from adversity, escape from trouble, recover from a mistake. Any time a tee shot lands behind a tree or an approach shot buries in a bunker or a three-foot putt caroms off a spikemark and lips out, all that matters in the moment is what we do next.

There are more variables in golf than in any other sport - from an irregularity in a green to a sudden gust of wind, from a poorly raked bunker to a divot swallowing our solid drive in the middle of the fairway. The golfers who grow the most and feel the best when they’re finished are the ones who handle each obstacle the best. Some days we’re better equipped to deal with it than others.

Still, the satisfaction comes from surviving the fight and growing through the battle. Anyone can get mad or make an excuse. It takes resolve to shrug off the situation and come back stronger.

Be safe and kind to one another, good people. There are so many birdies ahead.