It's hard to believe it's PGA Championship weekend already. I feel like I was just thinking about the Masters and now, here it is August. They say time flies when you're having fun, but for some reason it feels like I'm running out of golf time and I haven't been on the course nearly enough this year!! I guess I'll put golf thoughts here just to keep my heart happy.
Golf, for me, has consisted of pretty much only golf scrambles. I did play a little in June, but life and weather sometimes just get in the way. I am really missing my "me time" on the course. Right here, right now, I'm going to make a pledge to find my Ipod charger, get my music loaded and get out in the evenings over the next few weeks. But the times I have been able to golf have been awesome!!
I'm a big scramble fan and I love the team approach to golf...the ladies events we play regionally have been fun.
A golf friend who had hurt her wrist last year is back in action and it's been awesome to play with her again and just hang out. Her competitive spirit makes me smile every time we are together.
This past week I played in a 2 person event with one of my favorite golf pals...we can ham & egg a decent round with the best of them, but this year we've had some times where we just couldn't make a putt or we left ourselves with some struggles for par. When we got to the event we found out we'd be playing in a group with 2 young gals who are currently playing college golf...and the course we were at was their home course. I've always been a fan of the underdog, but I'll be honest, I wasn't feeling all that good about our chances...and after one gal out drove us by about 40 yards on the first hole, I felt myself hoping we could just keep it respectable.
We all hit our approach shots short on the first hole and we both ended up parring. I felt a sense of relief, but my defeatist attitude was creeping right back in. The next hole was a par-5, and we both ended up with 2nd shots around 210 yards..I knew I wasn't going to get there and frankly, I wasn't sure how I was going to hit my Adams hybrid (it's been a little sketchy), but amazingly, it went well and we ended up about 50 yards short of the green. Our opponents striped one and went just past the hole and ended up on the upper fringe in two. Both my partner, Deb, and I had similar wedge shots and we ended up about 8 ft. short for birdie. The fringe putt they had didn't look really easy, but when the first gal hit her putt and it almost went in, I wondered if they might make the 2nd one...and, sure enough, they did...eagle. I had about a 10 second conversation in my head that went something like..."I knew it, this is going to be a long day." But hey, we still had a birdie putt here!
When Deb and I play together, I almost always putt first...I could see the line but these greens were feeling a little speedy and to be honest, my touch this year has been suspect at best, so I had to focus. I got a good stroke on it and it went in...birdie. It would have been easy to get down right there because of that eagle, but Deb said that birdie was what was going to keep us in this.
I've played this course a few times, but as usual, I was having trouble remembering some of the holes...Deb would give me tips on where to drive the ball to give us a good angle or to stay out of trouble and for the most part I followed instructions, which freed her up to hit some great drives. On the next hole, a par-4, we had about 125 yards to the green...I hit a great little 8 iron and ended up about 10 feet away pin high.. The girls hit just over the green and once again had a fringe putt, but this time it was a little more downhill and running away.
Right away I noticed their confidence in putting...it seemed like they felt they were going to make every putt, even if it was 30 feet away...this was their home course, so they had an obvious advantage in reading greens, but this time they both were a little aggressive and had about a 12 footer coming back...still out. After reassessing their putt they both missed, one on the high side, the other on the low. Deb and I both commented to each other that we knew how that felt!
After watching them miss, we had a putt for birdie..it was mostly flat but it felt like it was going to be a slider...I didn't play enough break, but Deb got up, saw it, and drained it. And just like that it was a 2 shot swing, we're 1 up.
Then an interesting thing happened, on the next tee box, our opponents got up and teed off...now, I'm not much on tournament protocol myself, but usually you give honors if you lose the hole, especially if there is a birdie (I'm all for ready golf, but we weren't going anywhere in the shotgun start and we were waiting on every shot). We didn't say anything (and they teed off first the entire round), but maybe deep down in us we dug a little deeper not getting the courtesy of the box throughout the day.
The par-3 4th hole was short, and after watching them put it about 15 ft away I knew we needed a good shot - I was a bit in between clubs and thinned my 10-iron (Callaway Big Bertha) to the back of the green. Deb hit a solid shot and we were below the hole. I missed the putt on the high side, but Deb once again sees the perfect read and makes it for a birdie. While closer, our opponents once again burn both edges and have to settle for par.
That's 2-up for us!
The next par-4 is straight away but has trouble on both the left and right if you hit it far enough. Deb puts one right down the middle with her 3-wood and of course we're out driven by about 30 yards. I was able to hit another decent approach shot and we were looking at another decent birdie chance...the young gals also hit one in close and we were out. Deb and I both pull our putts and we ended up with par, and I was thinking for sure we were going to lose a stroke here because they had a pretty flat 10 footer for birdie... but, oh the curse of the edges...we get away with one and say 2 up.
Off to another par-3...Deb hits one pin high left and our opponents have a longer one up the slope a bit. We both par.
The next par-5 has a narrow landing area with trees on both sides and then it opens up to the green, which can be reachable in 2 with a good drive. I'm not sure what had been happening this day, but my driver was being especially good to me...and I was able to get a good one out there. The gal who could bomb her drive ended up in the left woods so they had to take their other drive which was close to us...they put it just short of the green. It was time again for my trusty hybrid and it came through! I was actually shocked how far it went. Deb smashed her shot and actually ended up just over the green...which ended up being our 3rd shot because we had a little more green to work with...my shot was in the rough and it was hard to tell how it would come out. Turns out we made a wise choice because our opponents weren't able to get a tight one from in front of the green and I was able to get my lob wedge to about 2 feet for a tap in birdie, and the girls ended up with par.
As we make our way to the 8th hole, a par-4, I'm realizing we're 3 up...I can't help but smile, but at the same time I realize no lead is safe here...these girls can play, and if they start making putts, that lead will be gone in a heart beat. I'm not remembering the 8th hole but after getting advice from Deb, I hit what I guess was a good drive...Deb also hits a good one and we're right by our opponents. We've got about 140 yards to the green so I know I have to hit one of my CPR hybrids...I hadn't hit it yet that day, and while I hit it decent, I pushed it a bit right and it ended up getting caught in the rough short, right. Deb hit a solid shot, but after it hit the green it just released and rolled off the back of the green. Our opponents hit a great shot about 10 feet away.
The thick rough was a bit intimidating, but we had some green to work with. Both Deb and I left our chips short, but thankfully Deb made a great putt after I missed mine. Our opponents drained their birdie and then it was down to 2 shots.
The 9th is another par-3 and I'm finding myself in between clubs again - it was about 123 yards, which would normally be an 8-iron for me, but it was into the wind with a bunker front and bunker back. Deb decided to go first because she knew what she wanted to hit - she hit a solid 7-iron on the left side of the green, probably about 30 feet away. I'm not sure what made me take my 7-iron, but I did...and while I hit the green, it released and ended up in the back bunker. Our opponents once again had a make-able birdie from about 20 feet. Deb and I both had decent putts but settled for par...our opponents, once again, couldn't get it to drop either, so we both leave with par and after 9-holes we're 2-up.
I'm not sure what was in our opponent's minds as we made the turn, but I can tell you that my mind was still a little bewildered that we were ahead...but now, rather than being in the chase as the underdog, we were the leaders, and I could feel my brain go into defensive mode...I had to keep it together. I knew Deb, who is one of the strongest competitors I know, would handle this way better than I would!
Our 10th hole (the 1st in their layout) was a straightaway par-4 with a small green. Both Deb and I had good drives, but our opponents sailed past us by about 30 yards again. I was fooled by the yardage and ended up in the fringe short, right...Deb pulled hers just slightly and ended up short left. Our opponents had a great shot just short of the hole. We couldn't convert, they did, and now we're up only 1.
The 11th hole is a long par-5, a 3 shot hole for most, but not for those girls! The only saving grace for me on this hole was they ended up in the rough on their drive so I got to put my name on the long drive...hey, there's something to be said for hitting it fairly straight! My hybrid came through again and we had about 55 yards for our third shot...and, just like we had seen before, our opponents were just over the back of the green in 2...this was not looking good. I've been proud of my lob wedge play lately, and when I hit this shot I thought it was going to be close...it hit short and rolled....and rolled, and rolled...I ended up at least 25 feet past the hole. Deb ended up short so we had a downhill putt just inside of where they were in 2.
The girls were both able to putt, and they both ended up past the hole about 8 or 9 feet. Now my thought was, just nestle one up there so we can get a par and hope they keep burning edges. Deb looked at the putt and I could see it was going to break left at the end so it was going to be all about speed. (and let me just say here that the greens were great!! They rolled so nice all day, so if you could read putts you could make some!) I hit my putt where I wanted to and it looked like it was going to hang out right and end up around hole-high...but then it busted left just at the end, and wouldn't you know it, it went in!! I can only imagine the shocked look on my face...and what was once looking like another stroke lost to the college girls was now a putt for them to tie the hole...and they canned it as well.
Another par-3 was coming up but this was a long one - I was almost considering hitting my driver! The girls went first and one went left into the bunker and the other went short, right.. Deb hit first this time since I wasn't sure what to hit and she ended up hole high but in the right bunker...I took my 5-wood and while I pulled it a little left, it ended up just in the fringe about 40 feet from the hole. The girls chipped short and Deb and I both putted from the fringe...we didn't leave ourselves a tap-in, but we eeked out a par..our opponents weren't so lucky...they ended up with a bogey....back to up-2.
It's not often you see back to back par-3's but we were looking at another 125 yard tee shot on the 12th...the hole had it's share of trouble on each side, but it was a straight away shot if you could focus. Deb put hers in the bunker left, and for the first time all day I clunked my 8-iron and ended up about 30 yards short of the green. Our opponents stuck one about 12 feet away. This chip wasn't going to be easy...not a lot of green...and it was going to have to hit short and just roll on...I got a bit too aggressive and ended up past the hole...Deb landed just a hair to short but we were able to get on the green to try to save par. We were away...thankfully I got a good read from Deb and we converted for par...our opponents canned their great shot for a birdie and we were down to a one 1 shot lead again.
The next par-5 was up a steep hill and then straight away to a fairly big green...we were out-driven as usual, but Deb hit a great fairway wood and got us around 100 yards. We ended up with 1 long on the green and one left but off...our opponents stuffed one to about 3 feet after they had laid up, too. We ended up using the one on the green even though it was longer, and dang it if we didn't almost make it! But we settled for par and they had a kick in birdie. That means tied with 4 holes to go.
We go from back to back par 3's to back to back par-5's...Deb and I both hit good drives but we found ourselves probably 40 yards behind our opponents. The green is about 225 out, but there is a pond in front & to the right, so you can either lay up, go left or go for it. I knew I wasn't going to get there so I went left and ended up about 60 yards out and Deb was about the same but just short of the pond right down the middle. Our opponents, once again, were just long and left in the fringe in 2. OY!!
I was contemplating Deb's shot because she was straight to the pin, but about 5 yards farther out...Deb liked the angle of my shot, and going with the wise words of our friend, Joan, closer is better, so we went with mine. We were able to get one pin high but it was still a little tester 10 footer.
As I was standing on the green waiting for our opponents to nestle one in close, I got the underdog feeling again...I knew I couldn't control what they were doing, but I could do my best hang in there...and I knew Deb would be feeling her competitive spirit bubbling up, too. Putting one close (but not a gimmie), it was up to us to try to make this birdie - we read it and I felt like I could see the line...I hit it right where I wanted to but it didn't break. Deb hit her putt, and I got distracted when I saw her turn and walk away in frustration..then I heard the putt drop! Deb thought she had missed it, and instead we had a birdie...even our opponents jokingly commented on her premature walk off! They converted their birdie, too, so we were still tied with 3 to go.
Another par-3 found us, and our opponents ended up short left. Deb hit one left but made it on the green...I went with another 8-iron and I had some redemption hitting left of the pin but maybe 10 paces closer. The girls chipped on the high and low sides and ended up with about a 15 footer for par. We nestled one up, got our par, and waited for them to make their putt...and the the curse of the edge hit them again..it was a bogey, and we were now 1 up with 2 to play.
The next par 4 was straight forward, but if you leaked to the right you could end up with a little tree trouble. With a little frustration percolating, our opponents bombed a drive not far from the green, but near the treeline. We had 92 yards out in the rough. We looked at a pin tucked in on the left side and Deb hit first, safe, pin high, but to the right. I hit a great 52-degree wedge, but pulled it ever so slightly left so when it hit and released, it just rolled off the side of the green into the fringe. Our opponents both chipped a little short but had a make-able 15 footer for birdie.
For the first time all day I felt nerves...I didn't want to give it away here - Deb asked me what I wanted to do - my ball was off the green but it was probably 15 feet closer...my gut told me we could get mine close (it was puttable) for a tap in so I said we should go with it rather than the longer putt. After I said it, I wasn't sure if Deb agreed, but I had to go with it. There was about 12 inches of fringe, a slight uphill slope to a crest about half way there before it went downhill just slightly. I sometimes have a tendency to overthink putts, but this time I just got up, lined it up and hit what I had hoped would be a tap in...as I watched it go over the crest I realized I hit it too far right, but it shouldn't be bad, and then, just like #11, my ball actually came back left and snuck in on the side! WHAT?! Wow...and wow. The girls followed us right in the hole with a great birdie putt so we were still 1 up with the final par-5 to play.
I'm not sure what this says about me, but as our opponents were teeing off, I checked the score card to see what we scored on the hardest handicap holes to see if we would win a score card playoff if we ended up giving up a stroke on this last hole. But I wasn't sure if we would have to do a playoff or if they would use the scorecard....the good news was we had a birdie on the 2nd hardest hole to their par so even if we lost a stroke it appears we might still win...but this hole was hard.
A good drive was critical here...it was a true 3 shot par-5 and there is a tree in the middle of the fairway about 80 yards from the green. The 2nd shot is blind and there is a pond on the right and everything runs off to the right. Pull it to the left and you're in a line of trees. The fairway is undulating, too, so even down the middle can have its challenges. A big score is not out of the realm of possibility. Our opponents ended up pulling their drive into the left rough and we had one in the left fairway about the same distance. They were able to get out of the rough and hit one in the neighborhood of the tree. Deb recommended that I hit right at the tree and it should roll to the right and we'd have a shot to the green.
Let me just take a moment here to thank my Adams hybrid...this blind shot wasn't really in my wheelhouse, but dang it if that hybrid didn't get us to about 115 yards out! Our opponents were probably closer to 100 yards and and as I walked up to my ball I could feel the nerves in my gut...the tree was not in play for us but the flag was back right and the green fell off the right side (maybe 8 feet) with a bunker and then the pond. Deb asked if I wanted her to go first and I said I did - she hit a great shot...probably a little more right than she was planning but it landed in the front half of the green and I thought it was going to end up pin high to the right of pin...but it kept rolling...right off the green and out of sight. DANG IT!!
Now that I could see what happened going for the pin I knew I had to hit it left center...we hadn't had this yardage all day so I could feel even more nerves because I wasn't feeling confident about the yardage, or my 9-iron. I pondered hitting short just so I didn't push it right, but I kept the 9-iron in my hand. I'll be honest, my anxiety got the best of me - I got quick, pulled it left and I ended up about pin high but in the rough (although there was a bunker nearby) - I wasn't sure where Deb was, and it turned out she was in some rough just short of the bunker but it was straight up the hill with no green to work with...I think she said it was almost an impossible shot to get close. I was not in the bunker so we would have to chip from mine.
Our opponents put it on the green, about 20 feet away for birdie. The chip we had was pretty straightforward, but if we got too aggressive we could find ourselves off the green. I hit my lob wedge and it released and ended up above the hole about 5 feet away. The girls weren't able to convert the birdie and ended with a par. Now we needed our 5 footer for par...I got up, saw the just slight right to lefter and said to myself, be confident - and it went in! I've never been so relieved!!
And proud. And exhausted, but at the same time pumped up! We thanked our opponents for the great day and I shared with them how much I enjoyed watching them play.
Maybe this will sound silly, but I got a little emotional as we were making our way back to the clubhouse. The day taught me a lot of things...there is no substitute for hitting the ball well. And for a good putting stroke. But throughout the day I noticed how the emotional part of golf plays a huge part, especially in competition.
I'd guess all 4 of us had some roller coasters of emotions throughout the day...and sometimes it takes effort to stay positive as the breaks don't go our way.
At the end of the day, as I looked back, I thought, this is going to be one of those rounds I'm going to remember for a long time... Thanks, golf, for the love and the lessons.
I love golf and I love to write, so I can't think of anything better than having a happy place like this to write about golf to my heart's content. Thanks for joining me!