Spiros loves to compete. He's a sixteen handicapper who can play much better when the chips are down. We played the Warkworth course yesterday. It was cold and breezy, but it was November and we knew our days were numbered as far as golf was concerned. It's a long winter in Ontario, so we play until all the courses close; the weather be damned.
I had told Spiros to bring lots of money because I intended to give him the business. He was more than happy to respond to the challenge, and, after we settled on me giving him twelve strokes, we played match play. Spiros was on his game, and after shooting 40 on the front nine, had me two down. He had made nothing but pars and bogeys, so I was really up against it, and I knew it.
I was striking the ball well. But after holing a nice putt for birdie on five, the hole closed up and Spiros ultimately won four and three. He had played really well, shooting 83 or 84, depending upon whether he wanted to accept the eight foot putt I gave to him on the one hole at Warkworth that, so far, has his number. I forget the number of the hole, but it is a long dogleg left around a marshy area, with a big willow on the corner of the dogleg. The first time Spiros played it, which was last week, he was BIPLI (Ball in Pocket Lack of Interest) after hitting it into the marsh three times before picking up. Yesterday, he hooked his tee shot into the marsh and made either seven, or eight, depending on whether you count the eight footer he backhanded at the hole in disgust as a gimme or not.
At the end of the round we got to engaging in the "ifs." I told him that I thought he had played about as well as I'd ever seen him play and if he hadn't made that mess of the dreaded dogleg left hole, and if he hadn't made that silly six on seventeen, he'd have really had a good score, especially considering the weather. He responded in kind, saying that if I hadn't missed three birdie putts inside of six feet, and if I hadn't three-putted from three feet on fifteen to lose the match, I would have had a good score, and it would have been a good match.
I suggested to Spiros that this was the funny thing about the ifs; golfers tend to talk about missing three footers as though they are some sort of anomaly that, in retrospect, should be written off as bad luck. We tend to say we might have shot a good round if we hadn't missed a few short ones. We don't tend to admit that we might have scored a lot higher if that hooked tee shot on ten hadn't kicked off the tree and stayed in bounds, allowing me to make my par instead of a double or worse, which happened to me yesterday.
Golfers will probably always engage in the what ifs, or if onlys, after a round. But the sad truth is, as a buddy of mine likes to say, "if your aunt had had nuts, she'd have been your uncle." Or, as Steve likes to say, "It is what it is." Spiros gave me the business and we both took as many shots as we took. No point in talking about what might have been. What actually was, was pretty damned good. We had fun, and that's all that really matters for old fat guys like us.