Last week, I played in a mens club event and scored awful. Well actually, considering all of the bad things that happened to me during the course of the round, I managed to shoot 90 officially, which is pretty bad for me, I normally would score between 78-82. But I had one of those rounds where my ball just hit every little tree, weird bounce, and a person in my group incorrectly assessed an additional penalty on me because he didn’t know the rules… you know, abnormal stuff that added up.
So this week Jackson and I went to the range a few times. He is still learning to play golf, so when I take him to the driving range, I never really get to concentrate on what I’m doing because I’m keeping an eye on him, helping him with his swing, taking him to the bathroom, or otherwise being distracted.
Nevertheless, when I went to the range I was hitting it pretty good. Whatever funkiness had gotten into me on Sunday was gone.
So, on Friday, I had the opportunity to head out for a twilight round at the same course to exercise the demons of the week before.
My home course really has two sides to it. There are the first 6 holes, which are narrow, and if you are unlucky/unable to hit the ball straight, can get you into a lot of trouble. And there are holes 7-15, which are easy, and then 3 hard holes to finish. Basically, its 9 hard holes and 9 easy ones.
So the strategy is to play relatively conservative on the 9 hard holes and more aggressive on the easier 9 holes.
I try to get through the first 6 holes in +4 or less. If I do that, I’m usually going to have a good round.
Last Sunday, the first 6 holes ate me up, I played them +10.
But on Friday, I was hitting the ball pretty good off the tee and managed to get through the first 6 holes at even par, even had a birdie on the hardest hole on the course (maybe San Diego County), the par 4 4th hole.
Standing on the 8th hole tee box I have just 2 easy holes to finish up my front 9 at even par, which would be a personal best for me on the year. Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case when I’m excited, I pull the drive just a little to the left of where I was hoping. But since I normally hit a left to right fade with the club I was using… the ball leaked in the rough into a bad spot. My ball was on a severe downslope towards the hole and had gotten hung up in some Bermuda grass. I wish I’d taken a picture because the ball was sitting about 6 inches off the ground in this grass, basically suspended in air. I was about 85 yards away from the green, and when combined with the weird stance I had to use because of the hill… the swing was going to be very awkward.
In my head I’m thinking, “You’re even par… you’re less than 90 yards… you can definitely get this ball on or close to the green, 2 putts and you’re still even par.”
The alternative was to simply take an unplayable lie, get relief from the bad stance and ball position, and have a much more straight-forward shot. But doing so would mean I’d have to get up-and-down from 85 yards for par… which was possible but not likely.
So I decided to hit the shot.
I lined up, got really good contact with the shot, and it went straight at the hole, coming up about a foot short of the green, but only about 12 feet short of the hole. I mean… it was a great shot.
The problem? The weird swing and stance I had to take to pull it off– while it worked— tweaked my left elbow. I think in the whipping the wedge through the whispy Bermuda grass, maybe I hyperextended it just a little?
I managed to make par on the hole. But standing on the 9th tee box I could feel something just was a little off. Worse than that… a little bit of pain was going to make me just a little bit cautious. And that little bit of pain took my swing from free flowing, not even thinking about my swing the tiniest bit, just stand of the ball, zone out, and hit it…. to taking a couple extra practice swings and swinging just a little bit gingerly.
The result? It wasn’t horrible. But it led to a series of bogeys on holes that I normally make par. Instead of just punishing my drive down the middle of the fairway I start making minor changes and spraying the ball off the tee right or left, which compounds into hard second shots and missing the green.
And that’s how your scorecard goes from looking like the best round of the year to this…
Meh. Golf is hard.
At least I got to see a pretty sunset.