Thursday, October 23, 2008
I kept score for Jim McGovern, Cameron Beckman, and Nathan Green today.
Jim shot 67, holed a bunker shot on 11 for eagle, and otherwise had a solid 3 birdies and two bogies. Cameron also had 3 birdies and two bogies, including a birdie on 18 (515 yds par 4), the 2nd hardest hole today.
Nathan had a bad day. It started out good, with a birdie on #1. He made bogey on 5 when his 6 foot 5 inch (thanks, Shotlink) par putt lipped out, and then had a devilish run of 6 - 6 - 6 on 7 through 9, shooting 7 over par on the front. The back 9 was better, with two more birdies but a double on 13 and a bogey on 18 to shoot 78.
His troubles started on 4, a par 5, where he hit his first provisional ball after hooking a drive into the desert. The first ball was found, and he hit a good recovery shot into the right rough, left his approach just short of the green, but got up and down for par. On 6, a drivable par 4, he hit his drive near the shotlink tripod and a golf cart, in a small desert area between the cart path and the rough. He was disturbed that they hadn't cleared all that stuff out of his way by the time he arrived. He was already in somewhat of a bad mood, having had to ask various people on various holes to stand still or stop talking while he played. He managed a nice shot onto the green and made par. Still even par.
On 7, his drive was in the fairway, but sort of behind the tree in the desert peninsula that juts out, and he hit his approach into a deep bunker to the right of the green. It was a fairly long bunker shot, to a pin on a pretty severe right-to-left slope. As he was preparing to hit, a volunteer was walking in the desert 30 yards behind him, in between holes. He had to be stopped. Nathan fussed over the shot for a while, then hit it too far right, into a collection area behind the green. Then he berated the marshal that was standing behind the green, for being in his line of sight for the shot -- 20 feet to the right of his line of sight to the pin. That was when a comment including the words "every f***ing hole" was heard. The chip barely reached the top of the hill, and two putts later he had his double bogey.
On 8, a par 3, I didn't see the tee shot, but it went about 30 degrees offline to the right, into the desert. He hit a provisional ball, and then found his first one. That was declared unplayable, so he went back to the tee and hit 3, onto the green. I and Kipp, my standard bearer, had been helping find the first shot, and waited for Nathan and his caddy to catch up so that I could verify the events. From down in the ravine I could not see the tee, and it is one of the more complex situations for a walking scorer. I was going to ask the caddy if I had it right, but as Nathan walked by me he said "Don't ask". 3 putts later he had his 2nd 6.
On 9, he hooked his 2nd shot into the desert, hit a provisional, found the first ball under a tree and chipped it out, into the bunker. No save, double bogey 6.
On 11, he hit his drive left, toward a tree on the edge of the fairway, and hit a provisional. We had motioned to the marshal standing under the tree, and he moved out of the way. We all went searching for the ball in the desert. There was a ball next to the shotlink person, and I asked her about it and she said that was his second tee shot, and she didn't know where the first one had gone. Finally, Nathan asked if anyone knew where his provisional ball was, and I told him. Then he went back to the tree and found a ball in the rough. I think he didn't know which was which, but based on what I said that the shotlink person had said, he asked his partners if it was OK to play the ball under the tree. They said sure, go ahead. I think if a rules official was there, he would have said that Nathan had abandoned the search and was hitting 4, but ... another reason to be frustrated and paranoid. He wound up making birdie, but would not acknowledge any of our "nice bird" compliments.
On 13, he gave me my first wrong score in my career as a walking scorer. It's a par 3, and he hit his tee shot into the deep bunker on the right. I walked up the left side, near the exit. By this time, at 6 over par, Nathan was trying to finish as quickly as possible, and had no other important objectives. He hit his first bunker shot before I was in position to see it, and I gave him a bogey instead of a double. Usually, when a player sees that the standard bearer has the wrong score, he or his caddy will say something. I guess Nathan didn't want to point out that he was actually 8 over par, not just 7 over. He eclipsed my personal record for hearing the word "provisional" in a round. I think it was 4.
I think it was about that time that Kipp and I discussed the tradition of the pros signing golf balls for the walking scorer and standard bearer, and I said we would be lucky to get a kick in the butt from Nathan. I was right. He didn't sign any balls, didn't say thank you, didn't say anything. Jim and Cameron both went out of their way to come over to me to shake hands and say thank you again at the end, after they had thanked me and given me their autographed golf balls. At the time, I thought they were both just nice guys, which they had been all day, but now I think maybe they were also a little embarrassed for Nathan.
Nathan, if you read this, try to remember you have the best job in the world, and 100 million guys in America would trade places with you in a heartbeat, even if they had to shoot 78 sometimes.
Kipp is in 8th grade, and is allowed to practice with the high school team, but not play on it. (I guess in Florida they're a little more generous about who gets to compete. Bubba Watson started playing for his high school team when he was in 3rd grade.) He doesn't have an official handicap, but he averages around 75, and has broken par several times. From the tips. This kid is shorter than me, and half my weight, and hits it 270 off the tee. He's won two junior golf tournaments, and lost one in a playoff, and has several other top 5's. All day he was talking about Richard Johnson, who played well and all, but I didn't understand the fascination until I found out Kipp's last name is Johnson. Watch out for that name in about 10 years, maybe less. And you can bet he'll never stiff his walking scorer, even if he shoots 78.