On Monday I got to play one of the nicest courses in Minnesota with three of my favorite golf friends. For the last 3 years, at least once a year, we have a match...I'm the newest member of the foursome - our friend, Looper, was the 4th for many years, but sadly, he passed away a few years ago. I still remember the day my friend Scott asked me if I wanted to be the new 4th for the group - I was touched beyond words. Still am.
The guy in the clubhouse said they had gotten rain yesterday, too, so it would be cart path only. I'm not sure I have ever seen a course so wet before (well, except for maybe Bethpage Black!!) . I knew right away I'd be in trouble with no roll anywhere - but the greens were in great shape, and I would have to count on my short game if I was going to contribute to the team.
As we approached the first tee I started getting "the rules" - it was then that I started to faintly remember the past few matches...and that I would be counting on my partner to make sure there wouldn't be any cheating!
I always thought games on the course were for the ladies social leagues, but I have never really experienced anything like the games we play during our 18 hole match...it has to be a guy thing. Thankfully my partner is highly skilled in the game "talk" so I just sit back and try to figure out what's going on. Some of the lingo makes sense to me (like sandies) - but I was clueless on poleys, trenchies, and dodes (forgive me if I am spelling these wrong!).
I love math, but I swear you need to take a college course to figure out what happens on every hole! There seems to be points for all kinds of things - birdies, chip ins, under par, along with the standard low ball, low team. And of course there had to be carryovers, so on some holes there were all kinds of points on the line.
I could feel myself getting more nervous as we played a few holes - I didn't want to let my partner down, but really, I knew the winning didn't matter (oh who am I kidding! We wanted to beat Coach and Coach!). We all started out a bit rusty, so there were only a few points changing hands at first. After being up for the first few holes it was announced at the turn that we were down 11!!
I knew I had missed a few putts and had a couple really bad holes, but down 11? UGH. But my partner said it was at the turn where the real game starts. We reached the 10th tee and my partner tells me that being down so far will result in a few points for us on the back...and true to his word, he was able to negotiate us 4 ½ points on the back side!
We tied on the 10th hole, but it was where the ½ point came into play, so we ended up getting a team point there. We carried over a few points and came to a tricky par- 4. My partner was in trouble, but with a chip-in by me, we gained a few more points. So after 13 holes we are now down 8.
We all commented on how the level of play had really gone up on the back, and in a 3 hole stretch from 13 to 15 we had 5 birdies among us. We approached the 16th hole 5 down. It was an interesting par-5 - after the drive you have a split fairway option - going up gives you a better look at the small green, but going low is straighter and seems pretty safe.
My normal tendency would have been to play it safe, but I was hoping to get a decent 3rd shot on the green, so I took out a hybrid and decided to go to the upper fairway. I didn't hit it great and ended up in the rough short of the landing area. I couldn't see the green, but I decided the hybrid was my only option...this time solid contact and I ended up just over the back.
My partner stuffed it behind the pin and our opponents had 1 birdie and 1 par attempt. My chip was a little downhill side hill with about 15ft of green to work with...I took out my 60 degree and hoped that I could land it just on and have it roll near the hole. It's funny how sometimes you can just see a shot happening - I hit the ball with the softest hands I had and after one small bounce it rolled gently right into the cup! My partner parred, and we ended up with 6 points! One up with 2 to play!
A par by my partner on 17 (par-3) was enough to get us 3 more points and a 4 point lead going to 18. Coach & Coach announced "press" - so all points were doubled. With water in front of the green, we all went long on our approach shots and I was the only one able to save par - final tally - +8 for the good guys (and for the record, we didn't even need the 4 other points given to us)!
After squaring up and seeing the results of the US Open in the clubhouse we headed back home. I'm not sure what was my favorite part of the day - the drive up excuses before even teeing it up, the on-course commentary, the negotiations, or the drive back recap of both good and not so good shots...or the great one-liners. I think maybe just getting to spend time on a great course with great friends was really the best part...and knowing that Looper was there with us. That is what golf is for me.
I kept the scorecard so I could figure out how to keep track of everything...I hope we'll be having another match again before next year! And if you're anything like these guys, I bet you're having fun on the golf course, too!