Sunday, November 09, 2008
Then, 2 wks ago, I played at Aguila . . . shot 95 there . . . that felt like 105, cuz I didn't putt well on the furry greens, again, but I also had some blow-up holes that I'd managed to avoid for a while, especially the last 2 holes, where I got tired: still not back in walking shape, had to take an aleve-d for my allergies that made me a little dizzy and dehydrated, so I started flaring everything right . . .
So this week I played Western Skies with the Defenestrator . . . I shot 45-42, with 2 birdies, finally . . . hadn't had a birdie in a month . . . the main problem this time was 5 double bogeys including 2 in the last 3 holes, as I wearied again, and started flaring right. I did putt better on the closer-to-normal-but-still-wooly greens: witness the 2 back9 birdies that I DID make this week where the last two outings I had 2 back9 opportunities I failed to convert.
I have some other weird stats: 4 lip-outs, 4 3putts (I putted better, not great, if you see what I mean), 3 wedges pureed over the green, 3 more bladed over the green, and 1 chunked. They had had some big tournament earlier that morning, but we zipped around almost as fast as we could hoof it . . . but they had the pin positions in the most pernicious place on every single green . . . tucked into corners, on top of knobs, behind any bunker available, and/or at the edge of tier-slopes . . . hard to get close . . .
on the par 3 #11 I hit a one-liner fade within 3 ft . . . almost missed the birdie on the low side.
on the par 5 #12 I hit a ferocious drive and a bodacious 3wood 50 yds short of the green, against the wind . . . lobbed a little half-wedge pin-high, but 22 ft right of the pin . . . it was perfectly flat and straight, and the putt wiggled both ways out of the cup before it toppled in.
So that was my quota, but I wanted three, and then a personal best 4 birdies, but . . .
on the par 3 #13 I perfectly faded a half 7wood almost in the hole, but it hit a hard spot and bounced to the back of the green . . . I couldn't find a ball mark anywhere. . . .
on the par 4 #14 I hit my longest drive of the day, say 290, that left only 70-odd yds to the middle of the green, but my half-wedge missed the corner of the green where the pin was, and rolled up on one of those mounds into the fringe: 4 putts to get into the hole. grrrrrr.
so I put a little west-texas-red-ass on my next drive and left myself another half wedge to the green, but the pin was right behind a bunker in the center-front of the green, and, trying to get it close, hit it fat . . . hit the quarter-wedge next shot25 ft past the hole, 2 putted for bogey.
from then on I was flaring everything right . . . double bogeyed a par 3, with a chunk and a 3putt; bogeyed a long par 4 after missing a 3 foot par after a fabulous flop shot; double-bogeyed the long #18 -- failing to finish strong . . . bah!
won't be improving this ranking . . . still not one of the top-drawer courses . . . maybe if the greens had more than one pernicious pin setting, it could be a 3, but, we really don't like courses that use tricked-up greens to compensate for flat, wide-open fairways, do we. . .
Outside the tee box, but inside the ropes, I volunteer as a walking scorer on the PGA and LPGA tour. In the late 1990's at the Canon Greater Hartford Open, I had an unknown young player named Chris DiMarco in an early round.
At the tough 14th, he hit a solid 3-wood to the top of the hill, some 60 feet above the tee, on the right side, avoiding the huge maple tree that blocks the approach from the left, and finding the only flat lie on the fairway. The second shot is 60 feet downhill to a long, narrow green guarded by that tree and traps right and left, that slopes fairly severely from back to front. After some discussion, he selected a club and hit a beautiful, high 7-iron that landed not more than 10 feet right of the pin, which was all the way back, bounced high in the air as if it had hit a cart path, went over the green, down the slope, and stopped 20 yards away next to the small stream, in foot-high fescue that mower blade has never touched.
Finding the ball was an accomplishment, as the gallery is not allowed back there, but the next shot was a minor miracle. It floated high in the air, landed gently on the fringe, and trickled slowly, slowly down the hill, stopping 20 feet below the hole. His uphill putt broke ever so slightly to the left, crossed the cellophane bridge on the right side of the cup, and came to rest 6 inches dead behind the hole. He tapped in his bogey, and as he left the green he turned to his caddy and said quietly, "I hit 5 good shots on that hole".
Epilogue: the next time I played the TPC at Cromwell, I hit a drive the best I could up the middle, hit a blind 3-wood shot over the hill, and as we walked to the green I could see my ball 3 feet short of the front pin placement. I made the putt. Yes, Chris, it is a funny game
Ever'body's hit one of those topped shots that skips over the water a few times before sinking, like as if you was skipping stones . . .
Back in Texas at Walden on Lake Conroe, on #16, the forced carry from the tips is about 230 yds . . . my old partner, the Jaybird, as in Nekked-as-a-Jaybird, used to claim the only reason he carried a driver was cuz of that shot on that hole . . . all you can see from the tee is a tiny sliver of fairway above the water, between majestic pines that seem to choke the landing area, and the sky, reflected in the water . . . well, it'd be BOUND to make you clench-up just a little, wouldn't it, especially if you weren't quite up on your A game?
It used to be a game to us, counting the skips from a tee shot, when someone clenched up and topped their tee shot there: 1-2-3--4--5---6---7 . . . . the cool thing was that since the shore was zeroed against the water, if you could skip often enough . . . you could get back to dry land . . .. coupla times I wound up 50 or 60 yds past the water after skipping a coupla times.
So I was playing at Kokopelli with Ms Cactus, when I clenched up and topped a 5iron into the water on the par3 #3, but it skipped twice, back on to dry land, up past the sand trap handy to the green. She couldn't believe it. She hadn't played enough to have ever seen it before; I don't top a ball that often anymore, and she doesn't hit it hard enough to do it herself.
"Aghhh. That's nuthin'", I told her . . . oncet I hit 3 iron 3rd shot on #11 at Walden, a 600 yd double dog leg par 5 out onto a penninsula, where the green is elevated about 6 ft over the water -- and bulkheaded -- where my line-drive hit a wave just right and bounced up onto the green for a birdie attempt.
There's an old joke that never seemed so true as it did then: "musta hit a turtle back!"
This all takes place in the D flight, y'unnerstand, so it's the ultimate mixture of the sublime & the ridiculous . . .
It was the annual club championship . . . a 2 day, 36 hole, Medal event . . . We teed off as the last group in the tournament, the worst-of-the-worst. So, Sunday, we would tee off first, so that the best-of-the-best would finish last, if you see what I mean . . .
I started off on #1, not unusually, by hooking a ball out of bounds, but then 1 putting from 12 ft to save a 9. I finished the front 9 with an even 50, but taking only 13 putts. The old home course, Walden on Lake Conroe has a slope of 145 from the back tees, 128 from the whites, where we were playing, so one has to expect some blow-up holes, especially when the course is in Summer Tournament Condition, with ankle deep bermuda rough and very fast greens. The trick, the test, is to keep your composure and shoot your handicap.
I think I got tired on the back 9, shot a 45, with 16 putts, for 29 in all . . . still purty good.
Since we were the last group, there was no one behind us, so I think we tended as a group to dawdle . . . and I've got the temperment of a toy-poodle for slow-play . . . that wears me out worse than anything . . . One member of our group seemed to think he was Arnold Palmer, famously pictured studying a shot while puffing on a cigarette . . . every dang shot, tho? My cart partner was a retiree, whose main game plan seemed to be to get into peoples heads . . . after every putt I made, he said, "It just amazes me how still you keep your head while you're putting!" After every full shot, he'd say, "What a beautiful swing you have!" All of that with the cart not moving, doncha see . . . I don't remember the other fella at all . . . I like to play fast, in case that's not clear.
But I noticed early on we had lost track of the other groups . . . and on 16, from the fairway, I saw the asst. pro wheel out, obviously looking for us . . . sure nuff, when we rolled up to the pro shop the head pro gave us the Dutch Uncle, like a principal lecturing tardy students, and assessed us each a 2 stroke penalty . . . it was almost dark, the pros wanted go home, and I knew there was no point in contesting such an unfair development, but my cart partner needed to vent about it. I left him to it.
The thing about it was, my cart partner and I were still leading the D flight, with net 71s, including the 2 stroke penalty. It's REAL hard to shoot your handicap at Walden . . . So you'd think we'd've been encouraged by such a development to finish strong the next day, but no, our sense of grievance was too deep. My cart partner started out with 3 9s, and I with 3 7s, so we never had a chance. Where the day before he'd been all sweetness and light, this day he was all vitriol and gloom, full of recriminating rehashings of his lengthy debate with the head pro the night before . . . we'd both played under our handicaps the first day, but couldn't come within a 5wood of them the second day and totally finished out of the money. My main complaint, aside from the penalty, was that I wasn't putting lights-out, again.
The lesson I took out of these events is not particularly profound, unless you don't know it . . . Golf, Like Life, is not fair, and one's chore is to accept one's fate, and press on. This was the first tournament in several years I had had a chance to win, and I tho't it would be years again before I would have another chance, but the next year I won 5 tournaments and the year after that, 4. I attribute this not only to playing 4 times a week, but to the Life Lesson I got that weekend. . . 8^) . . .