Backswing slow to make the ball go

Luke Donald looks through the flying sand after hitting out of the bunker on the 18th hole during the final round of the 48th annual RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing golf tournament on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island. Donald, who led after three rounds, ended up in a tie for second place with Russell Knox, two strokes behind tournament champion Branden Grace.

“In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove;

In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

Lord Alfred Tennyson, “Locksley Hall”

And in the spring, lots of old men’s fancies lightly turn to thoughts of golf.

So do the fancies of many other people, regardless of age, gender or transgender.

But for me, this rite of spring has persisted:

Watching the Masters and the RBC Heritage on TV annually tempts me to return to the links. The scenic panoramas, the nerve-testing strategies, the commentators’ hushed-tone expertise, the witty golf-related commercials and the birds singing make it look — and sound — so inviting.

Yes, some of that charming avian chirping is recorded and played during the telecasts to enhance the viewing mood.

However, the most powerful lure back to playing golf for many of us who gave it up remains not just the great shots by the pros but their worst.

For instance:

Ernie Els, who has won four major championships, had a major problem on the first green of the Masters on April 7 after advancing the ball to a mere three feet from the hole for a par-4 putt. Six putts later, he finally staggered off with a quintuple-bogey 9.

Even appallingly inept golfers, including me, might have taken fewer putts to get that ball into that hole.

Then, in the final round of the Masters on April 10, Jordan Spieth blew his chance to repeat as champion by hitting two balls into the water on No. 12 — the second mishap a classic chunk typical of a hacker like me (as in a lousy golfer, not a computer intruder).

Then on Sunday at the Heritage, Luke Donald hooked a tee shot into the water on No. 8 en route to blowing his chance to finally win that tournament.

Another reason for the beckoning-back-to-golf season:

You can play it when you’re old. Some who are pretty old can even play it pretty well.

Bernhard Langer, 58, was just two shots off the lead going into the Masters’ final round nine days ago.

OK, so Langer finished 11 shots back after a closing 79.

Golf balls weren’t the only flying objects at the Heritage during Saturday’s third round.

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner buzzed Harbour Town’s 18th hole. That was Boeing’s reminder that it’s a co-sponsor of the tournament.

CBS commentator Nick Faldo, reacting to the low-altitude flyover: “That is cool.”

CBS host Jim Nantz: “Wow.”

Nantz added: “Boeing has a facility here in South Carolina in North Charleston, and they recently just delivered their one hundredth Dreamliner built in this state.”

CBS commentator Gary McCord (the one with the handlebar mustache), commenting on the surreal “Vietnam Airlines” label on the mammoth plane:

“Did any of these players know this was gonna happen? Or do they just think the guy’s lost? They’re going, ‘Wow, it’s a long way from Vietnam. This guy needs a compass.’ ”

If you need a compass to get back to life’s basics, play golf.

Regardless of skill level, it can teach — or re-teach — valuable lessons, including:

“Focus on the next shot, not the last one”: Look to the future, not the past.

“Drive for show, putt for dough”: It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

“Golf doesn’t build character, it reveals character”: But it can build better character if you notice — and improve upon — the negative aspects it reveals about yours.

“If you cheat at golf, you won’t know your real score”: Play fairly.

And if you cheated on the tax return you mailed in Monday, that’s a hazard much more costly than putting a golf ball in the drink.

Taking golf up at 46, like me late in the last century, usually doesn’t lead to low scores.

Then again, it does lower expectations — and the agitation of a quintuple bogey.

Still, after putting so many balls in the water and the woods, and spending so much time putting big numbers up at Muni, my golf career mercifully ended two years ago.

Or did it?

Watching the Masters and Heritage on TV last year again enticed me. My resistance somehow prevailed.

Watching those tournaments this month, though, moved me to Charleston Municipal’s driving range Sunday.

The Muni’s renovated clubhouse, which opened less than three weeks ago, looked quite nice. The few holes in my view appeared to be in good shape, too. And the prices are right — especially if you walk instead of ride a cart.

As for my getting back home on the range, this was encouraging: There was not a single swing and a miss, aka “whiff,” from a large bucket of about 80 balls.

No, as usual, none of my shots went very far. Yet most were at least sort of straight. And nearly half of the dozen or so 3-woods off a tee got way out there (lots of roll) — by my limited standards.

My Sunday outing on the Muni’s putting green also went well.

Well, relatively.

Sure, golf can — make that will — be frustrating.

Even my sweet range shots Sunday can’t erase the lingering trauma of a long-ago 67 — on Muni’s front nine.

But then I rallied for a 55 on the back nine.

So yes, it’s a shame that Tiger Woods’ trouble is keeping him off the tour.

But Tiger Wooten is back.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.