Sunday, July 31, 2005

The shot(s) that bring you back......

As you have probably guessed, I like to play golf. That does not mean, however, that I play golf well. My handicap hovers at 26 despite my vain and repeated attempts to lower it. Nevertheless, I still show up every week to try.

The great thing about golf is: its all what you do. You cannot blame your opponent if you putt lousy or shank an iron shot into the trees. Its the only sport I know of where you can wish your opponent well, while still hoping to out shoot him, or her. To me that's one of the great things about the game:

How few men, says the Oldest Member, possess the proper golfing temperament! How few indeed, judging by the sights I see here on Saturday afternoons, possess any qualification at all for golf except a pair of baggy knickerbockers and enough money to enable them to pay for the drinks at the end of the round. The ideal golfer never loses his temper. When I played, I never lost my temper. Sometimes, it is true, I may, after missing a shot, have broken my club across my knees; but I did it in a calm and judicial spirit, because the club was obviously no good and I was going to get another one anyway. To lose one's temper at golf is foolish. It gets you nothing, not even relief. Imitate the spirit of Marcus Aurelius. "Whatever may befall thee," says that great man in his "Meditations", "it was preordained for thee from everlasting. Nothing happens to anybody which he is not fitted by nature to bear." I like to think that this noble thought came to him after he had sliced a couple of new balls into the woods, and that he jotted it down on the back of his score-card. For there can be no doubt that the man was a golfer, and a bad golfer at that. Nobody who had not had a short putt stop on the edge of the hole could possibly have written the words: "That which makes the man no worse than he was makes life no worse. It has no power to harm, without or within." Yes, Marcus Aurelius undoubtedly played golf, and all the evidence seems to indicate that he rarely went round in under a hundred and twenty. The niblick was his club.

From P.G. Wodehouse's short story, Ordeal by Golf.

That about sums up my golf game. However in every round is at least one shot that: "brings you back". This weekend I had more than my share.
Not that I scored well, out of 54 holes in 2 days I had a 96, 99 and a 98. BUT.......I was able to shut certain gloating fools up when it counted and I still won some money out of our match play. (Thank God for the 6 strokes my Saturday opponent had to give me......).

Saturday, front nine, holding my own to a respectable ( for me) 48 on the front. Hole #7 drive was OK, second shot was great, made it down to the 100 yard mark. ( Total length of this Par 5 is 510 yards). Now to put it on in regulation. Couple of waggles, then set up. Swing through the ball and it rises up in beautiful fashion heading for the pin....BUT as it comes down, fades right. OH #@#!! The green drops off sharply there and sure enough the ball hits and bounces down the slope to the rough.....GRRRR!!! My opponent, who has just put his shot on the green , leaving a mid length putt for birdie, is smiling to himself. " This hole is in the bag."

Your's truly reaches for his 70 degree wedge ( I keep 3 in my bag PW, SW, 70 degree, I gave my 4 iron its walking papers to do it). The ball is at the bottom of a little hill in some deep rough. The pin is close to that side of the green, meaning I have precious little distance to roll it. All I really want to do is get the ball in the air and to the edge of the green and hope momentum and Newton do the rest. Choke up on the club, and make a couple of practice swings to make sure I know "where the grass is". Then, set up to the ball; swing; and watch it go up into the air, onto the green, in front of the pin. The ball then rolls uphill and only at the last minute do I realize: "Its going to roll in the hole!" It does. Birdie on my card and a dumbfounded opponent realizing I just had won 3 holes with that shot. ( we had pushed the other two...).

The S.O. as she lines up to hit another shot into the fairway!

Sunday morning, S.O. has to work. ( Yes its true!) Its the end of the month and they are trying to get bookkeeping done before every one leaves for O-bon. I go to the course hoping to get paired up with someone fun. Instead I get paired up with another military retiree, who while both of us were still on active duty, I had disagreed with on professional issues vehemently. Now the lucky bastard works for an American company in Tokyo with the full expat package. Me I work with the full GS package. ( I think you will agree his is better...). However he and is wife are very polite and cordial on the golf course. The round starts off great for me. "X" who prides himself on being the better golfer, is not doing so well. On 2 ( Par 5, 498 yards) I get to the green in 3. Putt in for a birdie. Hole #3 (Par 4, 396 yards...dogleg left) I get to the green in 2 ( That's unheard of for me). Putt in 2 for par! Now he is really pissed.

Hole 4 is a 197 yard par 3. I hit my shot first......fades right..into the bunker! "x" takes the tee box. His shot also fades right...into the same bunker! Up we go to the sandtrap. I have to hit first. Afraid of the sand I really club it all the way out of the sand, across the green and into the rough just off the green on the other side. He hits a perfect pitch which lands about 15 feet from the hole, putting up hill. I pull out an 8 iron thinking if I can just bump it over the high grass, the ball will roll down to the flag. Sure enough it does and into the hole! PAR! Suffice it to say my opponent is pissed.

Of course he went on to kick my ass on the back......but hey, my day was made. We even had a good conversation as the round went on, and I got a birdie on 12. It's the little victories that make life sweet.....

Then again there is always the 19th hole:

That, of course is the toughest hole to play!



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