A late spring chill was in the air, and the wind blew lightly. The fairways were lush and the rough was deep. The greens ran true and fast. And every so often there was the unmistakable aroma of a fine hand-rolled cigar drifting across the course. It wasn't just any course. It was Shinnecock Hills, just four weeks before the 2004 U.S. Open was to be held there.
Golf courses have become a final frontier for cigar smokers. They are places where you can light up and enjoy many of the fine pleasures associated with a great smoke. It's true that it's not the same as being inside a wood-paneled room where you can really soak up the smells that accompany a great smoke. But you never have to worry about the smoke police rushing in and demanding that you extinguish your cigar. At least not today.
After so many issues of writing about the negative things happening in the world of cigars—new taxes, more smoking restrictions—it makes perfect sense to highlight a place where smoking is welcomed. The golf course may not be the place to light up your prized vintage cigars, but it is a place where you can smoke in peace.
Cigar smokers have their preferred golf course smoke and their own rhythm about when to light up. Some people fire up before they tee off. Others wait until they are well into their round and maybe a little more relaxed about their game that day. Some use it as an indulgence, either to reward themselves for a particularly good round in progress or to forget the misery of a bad hole or shot. Others like to wait until the round is over, and to find an open outdoor terrace where smoking is permitted. In any case, there is the full knowledge that you can smoke, without your peace of mind being violated.
We all have our favorite golf courses. We all have a highlights reel in our head of our greatest shots and our greatest rounds. Some nongolfers are astonished at our ability to recall every shot played in a round five or six years ago. But we can also remember the great cigar moments on a course. Some of those have come at the Montecristo Cup in Puerto Rico, an event this magazine cosponsors with Altadis USA. That tournament has become a monument to the wonderful association between cigars and golf. For that, we are particularly lucky.
We've made a commitment to golf in Cigar Aficionado. There's a good reason: many of you play. In the early years of the magazine's history, when we would play a public course, the first tee resembled a focus group; we never played in a foursome that didn't have at least one reader of the magazine. Sometimes, every person in the quartet, all strangers at the beginning of the day, would announce that they were subscribers. The cigar became the bond that made the round something more than just a walk with three other golfers.
But it goes further. Cigar Aficionado has the highest percentage of golfing readership of any nongolf magazine on the market today. Nearly one quarter of our readers golf more than 24 times a year. Simply put, we know that many guys who love cigars, love golf, too, and vice versa.
Golf does serve as a meeting ground for new friends. One recent partner said that playing a round of golf with a stranger you like turns that person into a friend for life. Cigars are like that, too. They are a bond that brings people together and provides a place for people to share good times and build good memories. It's one reason that golf has become the final frontier. And it's one reason that golf and cigars go together so well.