Ah, summer 2009! Good riddance to you!
I’ve been golf injury free for the bulk of the summer, yet my handicap index went from 15 last summer to 22 this summer. Most of this is due to rarely being able to practice (I went from an average of 3 practices a week last year to once a week this summer), but some of it is lack of an instructor since Jeff Kennedy retired. For those paying attention, I’ve had two very fine instructors retire on me, no doubt due to their inability to actually have me demonstrate any golf skill at all. I also had made swing compensations for my various back, shoulder and elbow injuries.
Last year, I failed to break 100 only twice, and I twice broke 90. This year, I’ve managed to break 100 maybe three or four times, and really played only one respectable round of golf, a 90 at Trails of Frisco.
My latest tale of woe came on Saturday, when I played in the Grapevine Golf Association tournament. We were playing an ABCD Waltz (the exact scoring method I fail to understand). Our A player failed to show (he has a very nice index of 1), so our team only had three. For whatever reason, whenever I’m scheduled to play a team event with a really good player, that player never shows up.
The golf gods hate me. I know this because they never let me play with their chosen ones.
I started out quite respectably, hitting a nice drive right down the middle of Mockingbird #1, longer than my two teammates. I had a 4-hybrid into the green, but hit it a bit fat and left it a bit short. I hit a pretty good chip past the hole but failed to get up and down and so made bogey. But this was a two-pop hole, so net birdie. I’m good with that.
The group in front of us is slow, very slow. The second hole is a very long par-3, playing about 190. We wait on the tee a good 10 minutes for those slowpokes. I’m using my 7-wood and I hit one of the worst golf shots I’ve ever hit, a pull-hook-worm-burner that ends up well short and left of the green under a little pine tree. You need to understand that these trees would never even enter your mind when you are on the tee, since they are so far left that they are out of play for nearly anyone. Anyone but me, apparently. I’ve got no shot at all to the green, so I chip out as hard as I can into the rough in front of the green, hit a passable pitch onto the green and two-putt for double.
On #3, the fault that would bedevil me all day would first appear. I hit another very nice drive right down the middle, just past the bunker on the left, leaving me an easy 7-iron into the green, perfect angle to attack the flag. I hit the ball straight at the pin, but it dropped short of the green. All my irons on this day would be short, some dramatically short. I never really figured it out until the 18th (9 on Bluebonnet), but what was happening was the club was past my hands at impact, leaving me with weak contact on the ball. In fact, on this day, the only club that performed at all respectably was the driver. Irons, hybrids, fairways, wedges; I was plagued with balls left short. Except my chips. Those I ran by the hole, no problemo.
But, back to #3. I hit a good chip about 10 ft from the hole, but left the par putt short and tapped in for bogey. Not happy, but at least respectable.
That’s when things went bad, really bad. #4 on Mockingbird is a dogleg left, narrow par-4 with woods down the left side. My nemesis, the duck-hook, came roaring back with a terrible shot with the 4-wood into the woods. I took a drop and had to lay up into the fairway, as I was blocked by trees. I hit a pretty sorry layup, but I had a pretty easy wedge into the green. That’s when the shorts hit me again, I hit the wedge short into the deep bunker to the left of the green. My bunker shot got out, but still on the fringe. My chip was long and I two-putted for a glorious snowman.
I’ll not bore you with my tribulations on the next three holes, other than to say I had four penalties, including two unplayable lies and two balls lost in hazards.
The golf gods hate me.
On the eighth hole, I played my only good hole of the day, and even that one started badly (or so I thought on the tee). I pulled out the driver and hit a big push over the woods to the right. Much to my relief, I found my ball just short of the pond in some not too thick bermuda rough. I had to fly over the pond to get to the green. I hit my best shot of the day, a 5-iron into the wind about 20 ft short of the hole. I hit a very nice putt that refused to go in and tapped in for my only par of the day.
How do you know the golf gods hate you? They let you hit a downhill, wind-aided, cart path aided, 350 yard drive, and then completely block you from playing your second shot into the green. So, here’s what happened. I’m on Bluebonnet #6, a really nice par-4 with a tee well above the fairway. I took my driver and hit a big block just to the right of the right-hand fairway bunker. There’s rough over there, but you can always find your ball. I thought. Anyway, after an extensive search, we can’t find my ball. The five minutes haven’t elapsed, but to save time, I hit a provisional from the spot where I think my ball would have ended up (this is a tournament rule to speed play when a ball is lost but not in a hazard). Finally, my playing partner finds my ball, way, way down near the green right of the cart path. I pick up the provisional and go to my ball, and I’m stymied by trees. All I can do is punch out sideways, leaving me a wedge to the green. Again, I get a case of the shorts, and leave it short. I chip onto the green long and two-putt for double.
Anyway, I manage to bogey each of the remaining three holes in other creative fashions. I’ll only note the last hole, #9 on Bluebonnet. I hit a stinky duck-hook drive into the rough. My 6-iron gets yet another case of the shorts, and I fail to clear the large pine tree on the left of the fairway. Indeed, I’m right underneath it, completely unable to make a full swing. The best I can do is a half swing. I’m 118 yds from the pin and I have an 8-iron. By some miracle, the golf gods allow me to make the best impact I’ve had on the ball all day and I hit the ball onto the green about 20 ft from the hole. I hit a nice putt that refuses to go in and I tap in for bogey.
So, there you have it, 108 stokes to finish that round. I’ve had 7 penalties, hit 5 fairways, made one, count ‘em, one par and one green in regulation. I didn’t hit any putts that mattered, but only had one three-putt, and I only managed to get up-and-down twice. I had buried lies in bunkers, balls dunked in water, unplayable lies, balls in rough so thick you can’t see the ball except from directly above it.
Yes, I sucked, and I sucked really bad on Saturday. But, you know, on that last shot into the green, from underneath the pine tree, I felt something in my swing and that made me go back and play again today. Despite diagnosing and correcting the fault that caused my case of the shorts on the range, I play nine holes after practicing and the shorts reappeared on the second hole. And still, I hit one good shot on the ninth, and I leave the course smiling.
Golf is a sickness. And I love it so.
The golf gods can bite me.