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Shot 84. Ouch!!... But considering that 30% of the field withdrew and less than 20 guys were able to keep it in the 70’s that score actually wasn’t all that bad.….Although 84 was not what I’d hoped for, given the playing conditions and the rust on my game I wasn’t really upset about it especially looking at all the cards that got torn up and some of the other numbers that came in. Half the course was actually underwater and they had to cobble together 9 holes and have us play them twice because there was no way to reschedule or relocate the event. USGA also does not allow lift clean and place so if you wanted to hit a clean ball you had to hope it plugged so you could clean it under the rules regarding embedded balls. Above is the kind of standing water that was typical of holes that were actually considered playable. On some holes like number 10 that were taken out of play the standing water was actually running and a foot deep.
I drove the ball about as good as I can drive a golf ball all day long. Even knocked some past the flatbellies and in the short stuff to boot. I think adrenalin and a strong desire to keep up with these young guys had me hitting it about as far as I ever have. Blowing one about 40 yards longer than I did in the practice round and through the corner of a dogleg is what led to my one big number on the card. I hit solid iron shots too and a bunch of greens. Just didn’t hit anything close enough to convert on. Other than that it was that single tragic hole, a few mud balls and a lot of stick handling around the greens that led to the score. The conditions were just too tough for me to squeeze much more out of myself or my game. I just wasn’t up to trudging around on a golf course that was so soaked it was nearly unplayable. Then add a 20 mile an hour wind, rain and 40-50 degree temperatures and to be honest I was pooped by about the seventh hole. Actually it was satisfying just to finish because 17 of the 55 guys who started just withdrew because the conditions were so bad and their scores were ballooning up into the stratosphere. I’d never, ever seen 30% of the field withdraw before in the middle of a qualifier. It was crazy but it was very cold so I can understand it a bit. Skin split on both of my hands from the cold. I didn’t really even notice it until I got off of the course. Some guys couldn’t hold the club.
I ran into some old friends and met some new ones. In the worst conditions I’ve ever played golf in it was still one of the most enjoyable, memorable and fulfilling things that I’ve done. Many of the guys there knew that it had been 12 years for me and basically welcomed me back to the grind and wished me luck. It was unexpected and nice to hear. Two highlights were having one of my playing partners say to me after my approach shot on 18 “God man, how good did you hit it 12 years ago when you stopped playing.” I just said “Better than I do now is all I can tell you.” It was also great to have someone I’ve known and respected for a long time encourage me on the range by saying “You sure can still hit it.” I didn’t really know that he had ever noticed that I could hit it before.
The long and the short of it is that I got this out of my system and I got something different out of it than I’d hoped for but so much more than I expected. I felt reconnected to the game and I felt like I still belonged and after the round the guys out there told me as much. It was great.
The kid in the picture with his dad is Un Cho from Canada. He bombs it and qualified with a 73 in the slop. Nice kid and I think he is going to really do things in golf. Amazing touch and he bombs it!!!
As with most things though, my wife gets the last word….When I got home she said: “What’d you expect? 12 years of rust on a great long game and it’s no surprise that you’ve still got a very, very good long game….. but 12 years of rust on a short game that was never all that good to begin with is another story.” Thanks honey….I think.
Hit ‘em straight,
The moral.....Don’t ever be afraid to put yourself out there…..You will grow in ways you’ve never even imagined.......