In Search of Okay-ness

There was a lot of tournament action this month for the guys at my club. There were the four flights of the Men’s Senior Club Championship, including the no-strokes Sloan Flight, as well the Men’s Stroke Play Championship, which is a net-score event and open to everyone. (Yes, If you are playing from the regular tees (6,234 yards, par 70), Senior Club Championship players will be able to use their net scores for both events.)

As usual, I (a 13 handicapper) went into the event with guarded optimism. In other words, I was hoping that the week prior to the Championship’s Friday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s first-9 Allan will show up – not Sunday’s back-9 Allan. On Friday, I went 39-40 – net (66). Saturday was 40-42 (net 69) and on Sunday 41-46 (net 74).

Like so many other older players (Well past 60.) with a middling handicap, I am not really sure why I played well for 2 ½ rounds or why my game went south on the last nine. As English TV commentator and author Peter Allis* (1931 – 2020) said, “It (golf) is not a matter of life and death. It is not that important. But it is a reflection of life, and so the game is an enigma wrapped in a mystery impaled on a conundrum.”

So, what was I really, honestly looking for during our Championship weekend? I wanted to play “okay.” Okay in the real world means “mediocre,” “so-so,” or “indifferent.” However, if a golfer is asked how he played and he answers, “Okay,” that translates into “decent” and “pretty well.” I say that because golfers – all golfers – go into each and every round with high expectations. For example, if you have a 10 handicap, an “okay round” at The Kansas City Country Club ranges from 78 to 83 – net 68 to 73.

So, if you are willing to accept my definition of “okay” golf, then as a 13 handicapper, I went into the medal-play tournament hoping to shoot a gross 171 (85-86), which translates into 5-over net 145. That, of course, won’t (and didn’t) win my flight, but I thought it would keep me out of the cellar. Of course, there is always the possibility that my game finds me and I am in contention the last day (which I was!).  Generally speaking, in order for me to be in contention in any final round, including our Championship, I need and needed a minor miracle: No Blow-Up Holes! (Remember a player is only expected to shoot to his or her Course Handicap once every four to five rounds, or about 25% of the time.)

Since No Blow-Up Holes is the key to winning a medal-play tournament, I always try to do my best to follow the advice below:

“It is bad for the player to reflect upon the past or anticipate the future when playing in a hand-to-hand encounter (match play), but it is infinitely worse to give rein to these feelings when participating in score play (medal). In truth, one may go so far as to say that the giving way to such an inclination is likely to be absolutely fatal.” – Englishman Harold Hilton (1869 – 1942) won the British Open in 1892 & 1897, U.S. Amateur in 1911 and the British Amateur in 1900, ‘01, ’11.

“And we ought to see also that in a medal round, to hole a long putt for a 6 is just as good as if it were for a 3. It is every shot that counts.” -- Bobby Jones (1902 to 1971), who won The Grand Slam 1930.

“You can hit your shots great and still shoot 80 every day because of poor management. The shots are 30 percent of the game. Judgement if 70 percent.” -- Ben Hogan (1912 to 1997), winner of nine Majors and 64 PGA Tour victories, which ranks 4th all-time.

“The driver is the most important club in the bag. If you don’t put yourself in position to put it in the fairway, you face an uphill battle all day long.” – Stan Thirsk (1928 to 2015), KCCC Head Professional from 1961 to 1993. He was Tom Watson’s lifelong teacher.

“I always figure that your mind should never go wrong. You should never ever make a mental mistake. You have plenty of time to decide what you’re going to do. Now if you’re Joe Montana coming down the field with a 300-pound lineman chasing you, you can make a mistake.” – Tiger Woods (born 1975) 15 Majors and 82 PGA Tour tournaments. His 82 victories are tied for 1st all-time with Sam Snead.

Hope springs eternal.

In The Cup,

Allan Stark


*While Allis, the “Voice of Golf” was best known for his TV work and writing, he was a fine player in his own right. He won 23 worldwide tournaments, including three British PGA Championships, and he either tied 8th or finished solo 8th four times in the British Open (1954, 1961, 1962, 1969).


1 comment

  • Andy

    I wish Stan had spent more time with me on the driver when I was a kid. Played 9 the other day and hit the fringe on a Par 3 and one fairway. The rest was the uphill battle.

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