The emails came back to back early Tuesday afternoon, two apologies for canceling meetings on short notice.
With my schedule suddenly as wide open as the upper deck at an Arizona Diamondbacks’ game, I did what any reasonable Arizona resident would do on a record-breaking 113-degree afternoon in August.
I went to play golf.
Over at The Phoenician, the cart kid seemed surprised to see me. “It’s too hot for most normal people,” he said. “But if you drink a lot of water out there, you should be OK.”
Who doesn’t appreciate such unbridled optimism?
I loaded the golf cart cooler with 10 bottles of water and headed out. Forget hitting my driver. I could have fired the ball out of a grenade launcher on the first tee and not endangered a soul — the course was that devoid of signs of life. Even the jackrabbits looked a little woozy lying in the shade.
You may ask why a grown man would risk heat stroke by playing 18 holes of golf in the middle of a searing August afternoon.
Allow me to paraphrase the British adventurer George Leigh Mallory, who in 1923 was asked by a reporter for the New York Times why he wanted to summit Mount Everest.
“Because it’s there,” Mallory famously explained.
Because I can — that’s the only logical explanation for my strange fascination with doing things outside when few other folks will.
Before taking up golf a few years back, I used to hike Piestewa Peak during the hottest part of the hottest days of summer.
My goal? To be the only person on the mountain. Part of the motivation was foolish pride and part of it was how annoying other hikers can be with that peppy “hiya!” whenever you cross paths.
Regardless, there was always someone else out hiking and spoiling the solitude.
Golf in the extreme heat also inevitably draws a few hardy souls no matter how scorching the temperature.
And it does have its advantages. Golfers who favor fancy courses will tell you that a summer round on a hot day is about 80% less expensive than playing in the fall.
Golf in August is also at least twice as fast as playing a round in February.
My Tuesday afternoon round was done in two hours and 10 minutes. Given that a round of golf is allegedly supposed to take four hours, being 46% more efficient only added to my sense of accomplishment.
So did setting a personal best by drinking 14 bottles of water. I’ll spare you the details on restroom pit stops.
Not long ago, I spoke to my doctor about undertaking outdoor activities when the Valley is as hot as the surface of Venus.
His sage advice: “Make sure you stay hydrated and stop if you start to feel lightheaded or begin to cramp. Mostly, just try to use common sense.”
Unfortunately, if you read this column on a regular basis, you’re likely aware that common sense isn’t my strong suit.
This explains the four wood I dunked into the water on the 18th hole, all the times I voted for Joe Arpaio and wearing a round of golf played in inhumane conditions as a badge of honor.
Afterward, I contented myself with the knowledge that I fared better than Mallory did on Everest. He attempted another trek to the summit a year after that New York Times interview. Some climbers located his frozen corpse 75 years later on the mountain’s northern slope.
All I got was a little sunburn on my nose and a double bogey on 18. All in all, not a bad way to spend a 113-degree day.
David Leibowitz has called the Valley home since 1995. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.