So many farmers across the Mid-South have had to replant this year.
Flooding, backwater, and excessive rainfall seem to be the main culprits. News agencies have covered flooding across parts of the Midwest down to Louisiana. I personally saw large portions of corn and soybean fields in the Mississippi Delta pummeled by rising and then receding water.
I photographed Arcola, Miss., farmer Bubba Simmons standing on a bridge spanning the Sunflower River, its banks barely containing the high, rushing water. His frustration was painfully evident because he faces replanting almost 2,000 acres. But he also feels for the many growers in the south Delta who will not have an opportunity to plant one seed.
As I travel across the Mid-South covering agriculture, I have stopped being surprised at the resiliency and patience of farmers and cotton ginners too — and how many of them play a game I have learned to love and hate — golf.
I have lost count of the farm and/or gin offices I have walked into and seen clubs leaning against desks or framed pictures of famous golfers, or farmers and ginners themselves with golfing friends, hanging on the walls. I always ask about their game and most of them beam with joy as they share a story of a golfing memory. All too often many of them end their comments by stating what a frustrating game golf can of course be.
Patience and resiliency, the two traits most farmers possess, are also found in most successful golfers. Whether it is the ability to recover from a poor start to a farming season and make a good crop, or to double bogy the first few holes of the day, and then rebound to card a string of pars, the parallels between farming and golf are easily drawn.
Countless factors influence a crop, like cotton, each season. From cold temperatures that slow or stall germination, to brutality hot temperatures and humidity that, if they continue into the night, can leave a crop struggling to cool itself by expending what nutrients it has taken in that day. Weather influences, like high winds, can obviously have negative effects on the flight of a golf ball and the distance it can travel — hence the golfing term “two-club wind.”
GPS technology has dramatically increased efficiencies across the farming landscape. When peanut harvest begins on Joe Morgan’s Hattiesburg, Miss., peanut operation, his drivers do not have to guess where the middle of the row is located despite excessive vine growth.
Many recreational golfers today use hand-held range finders that provide exact distances based on GPS technology — a technology that has improved so many aspects of today’s world, not just farming and golf.
While there are parallels that may be drawn between golf and farming, farming is big business, golf is just a game, and that’s where the parallels end.