“Golf can best be defined as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle.”
– English humor writer P.J. Wodehouse (1881 to 1975).
Last Saturday (Sept. 2), I started on the Back 9 with my son-in-law, Stephen Duerst, and good friend Alex Wooldridge. I went into the round optimistically due to the fact that over the previous few weeks I had been consistently shooting in the lower 80s – not bad for a Punch-and-Judy 12 handicapper. I was giving credit for my mini hot streak to the lessons I had taken from Andy Fisher this summer, the two new Callaway Epic hybrids in my bag and two swing thoughts – “deliberate backswing” and “pause at the top.”
With that said, there was no reason whatsoever to expect a major deviation from my normal 83, 84, 85. Let me perfectly honest. Much more often than not, a potential great round for me will disappear because I begin thinking about scoring rather than playing. As soon as that happens, my swing gets short and/or I start peeking on my putts. That is when pars become bogeys and bogeys become double bogeys.
I don’t know if my swing is inherently fragile or if my mind is inherently fragile. It’s the chicken or the egg question. Either way, as many of you know, my game is fragile – always on the precipice.
However, without any warning, I could do no wrong on Saturday. THE ZONE found me on the 10th hole (our first hole) and wouldn’t let go. My drives were long (relatively speaking) and straight. Over the 18 holes, I was able to get up down for par four times and twice for bogeys. My putter couldn’t miss, including two bogey putts of four and five feet. PLUS, NO DOUBLE BOGEYS!
Of course, I realized that this round was simply one of those moments in time and that any future score in the 70s would be rare. Despite that realistic realization, I couldn’t help but think that my game was trending up and that I had a reasonable grasp on both my swing and attitude. In other words, I fully expected the next day’s round (Sunday) to be “my new decent” – a score between 81 to 83.
Well, as we all know, the Golf Gods don’t like even the hint of complacency, much less of arrogance. As you can see below (Allan Sept. 3), there was no magic on Sunday. I ended up with an 87, 12 strokes worse than the day before! I saw my playing partners – John Cowden, Jack Black and the long-hitting Stephanie Curran – shake their heads in disappointment as I double bogeyed three holes and three putted twice when I was on the green in regulation. I knew exactly what they were thinking: “There is no way in the world that this guy shot a 75 yesterday.”
As I walked off the 18th green toward the clubhouse and a much needed vodka on the rocks, one image from the movie Apocalypse Now kept coming to mind. It was the deeply troubled Colonel Kurtz (played by Marlon Brando) saying, “The Horror … The Horror …”
Kansas City Country Club Scorecard – Slope is 128 from the Silver tees:
So what is the lesson here? Simple: The game of golf is one big tease, which I temporarily forgot!
Allan (Current handicap: 12; Trending to 11)