Spring in the Shenandoah Valley

A Time and Place for New Beginnings

April 24, 2005

Spring wanders into the Shenandoah Valley like a vagrant, on no particular schedule, and likely to jump a ride out of town just when we get used to him being there. Technically, spring arrives around March 21 when the sun passes through the vernal equinox, whatever that means.

But we know it is spring by the telltale signs — the resurrection of color in a vibrant array of shades, from the light cloak of buds hung from a tree, to the rich, verdant depth of reborn grass; to the yellow cloud of pine pollen shaken loose by a new wind; to the shreds of pearl virga, a slanted shroud of rain which does not fall to the thirsty red clay below, but hangs all day from the darkening cloud with which it will cross the Alleghenies and be lifted above the Blue Ridge, before descending, when it is finished, and returns to the deep ocean from which it came.

spring1In the Valley, sometimes it is not clear whether spring has really arrived until it is almost summer. April brings thunderstorms, and 85-degree days, as well as morning frost and rumors of snow. But somewhere along the way, things change. I will leave Lakeview Golf Club for a day or two, and when I come back down Shen Lake Drive, the dormant, brownish terrain has changed to turf that assaults my eyes with its intensity, an explosion in green. This means that the grounds crew is out on the mowers, trying to keep up with the rye and bent grasses, and the golfers are out of hibernation.

Scenery like the Valley offers in spring stirs the pulse of anyone who has a pulse to stir. It is about rebirth, rejuvenation, new beginnings, and all of the spirits that move when life replaces the shorter, darker days of winter. Granted, the Valley still has an industrial backbone of agriculture, which means there are some undignified aromas riding the spring winds across newly fertilized fields, but the other senses all contribute to the onslaught of pleasant feelings. It is time to shed a layer of clothes, get outside, and for those of us whose imagination has been captured by the sport, it is time to play golf.

At Lakeview, some of our seasoned golfers (as the great teacher, Harvey Penick, liked to call seniors) appear for the first time in months, having wintered in Florida. The Seniors and Ladies Associations start their matches, the days are long enough for nine holes after work, and I am back at my post at the left end of the driving range, watching hundreds of rusty swings and keeping an eye on the westward skyline where rain clouds lurk, threatening to shorten my workday if they make it over the mountains from West Virginia.

Members I have not seen in months come up to say hello, or to book a tune-up lesson. Buddy Livick showed up for the first time in three years, having struggled with health issues. He wants to see if he can play golf again, and he is tentative, like he is afraid to hope too much. He would love nothing more than to play golf again, with his friends, and with his grandson, who is a man now, but was a boy when I taught him years ago.

During Buddy’s layoff, last summer, one of his regular playing partners passed away. He had a heart attack on the golf course. One of the guys in the foursome came to my teaching area that morning asking for the paramedics. By the time we called for assistance, and I made it to the second green on the Peak Nine, there was nothing to be done. It was a helpless and surreal experience.

spring2I have been certified in CPR and in the use of a heart defibrillator since then, and Buddy is back. After his first lesson, Buddy said his leg and back felt good, but his smile said his soul felt even better. He hit some beautiful 8-irons that day, and we are going on the course for our next appointment. His first time in three years.

Then there is young Caleb Jenkins, who had his first lesson this weekend, sharing time with little Caitlin Keeley, as we covered the basics of grip, posture, alignment, and ball position. We all laughed and shared high-fives during our hour together. This is what golf is all about. This is what spring is all about.

Who knows where Buddy, Caleb, Caitlin, and I will go next? But right now it is spring in the Shenandoah Valley. It is a time of new beginnings for all of us, just as it should be.


  1. Dave Holt says:


    You write extremely well….very poetic in this edition…but also very touching as you personalize messages about our players.
    I apologize, but am not very good at Facebook or the other tools, so fumble around a lot. I’ll try to save tuned in….and, hey, keep them coming! It looked and read great!


    • John Rogers says:

      Dave, thanks very much for taking the time to read the “Spring” article, and thanks for the kind feedback! I’m still fumbling my way around all the social network media as well, but I’m excited about the possibility of raising the awareness of our great Club, and the things we do at Lakeview. Thanks again!

Website Comments