I think Carl and I teed it up with very different attitudes. I was hoping to do well, but my ailing back and my recent poor play suggested to me that I might better just enjoy the day and hope I could make some putts. If you are making putts and keeping it in play, good things can happen. Carl, on the other hand, has had flashes of the old Carl the past week or two, including a recent round of 72 at Picton to better his age; so he was liking his chances, if not the in the "A" flight, at least in the Super Seniors.
We were paired with Jim, an old warrior on the local amateur golf scene and one-time two handicapper. He has memberships at the Collonade and the Garrison courses. At 86, Jim was just glad to be there. He was still gradually recovering from a quadruple by-pass, that turned out to be a nine-hour surgery during which he died several times on the table and suffered a stroke for good measure. He had been told that he would not be able to play golf or travel anymore. But, what the hell do doctors know? Jim, as I also came to learn, had played many times in senior events with my father in days gone by.
We were also paired with Bob, who was the Men's club president at Camden Braes. He decided to play with us after Radar cancelled out with a bad back. Bob turned out to be a real fun guy to play with.
We started on six, which is a 471 yard par five which should be a good birdie opportunity. All of us hit tee shots that ended up on the right side, with three of us in the rough, and Jim just barely in the fairway. Jim was playing from the red/white tees at 5900 yards. We were playing from the whites at 6200 and change. Our tee shots left us with what appeared to be relatively straight forward shots over a pond and straight at the three-tiered green. And that's when it happened.
Bob hit first and, taking the Tiger route straight at the green, plonked his ball in the pond, a yard or two short of the far bank. Carl went next and did the same damned thing. At this point, with me playing next, you would think clearer heads would prevail. But, not to be outdone, I stood up to my shot and hit it in the pond as well. Jim, by now rather discombobulated by our fates, almost whiffed his shot and didn't even make the twenty or so yards to the water.
We were in shock. For Carl, Bob, and I, the carry over the pond had been probably no more that 180 yards; the pond ending well short of the green. I don't think any of us considered it to be in play. But there you go. I'm sure I was the one who felt the dumbest because I had already seen that the pond was indeed in play and had the easy option of playing safe and just hitting an eight iron to the fairway left where I'd be left with a relatively straight forward wedge to the green. However, I have rarely been accused of being smart. I wanted to start with a birdie. And I only had a second shot of about 190 yards to the green. Sure it was over water and some fir trees, but I thought a golfer of my ilk should have been able to manage it. I decided to ignore Sam Snead's advice concerning playing from the rough; namely, grab the eight iron for best results.
I took a drop and hit my fourth shot over the pond again and onto the green, eventually two-putting for a bogey. The other three made double bogey on arguably the easiest hole on the course. Feeling as though I had dodged a bullet by only making bogey on six, I promptly stood up on the next tee and swung about as hard as I could on a hole that actually set up better by just knocking a five wood out there 200 yards or so. The ball cut instead of drew and disappeared into knee-high grass. After re-teeing, I made a double and was three over after too holes--two of the easier holes I might add.
I could go on and talk at length about the troubles we all had; the three shots shanked by Carl, and all the lip-outs. But, suffice it to say, we all struggled mightily all day. And yet, despite our struggles we all seemed to manage to have a pretty damned good time.
Finally, we faced the 444 yard par four fifth. All hope was gone that any if us were going to challenge, but somehow we came to life. I girded my loins and hit a terrific--at least terrific for me--drive. My second uphill shot of about 180 yards kicked left of the green, leaving me pin high--you could call me Johnny Pin-High, but that one's taken--and then, for some reason I became determined to pitch that ball in for birdie. I really focussed with all my might, hit the pitch, yelled at it to "get up", and watched it take the break and hang on the front edge of the hole before dropping in. There was much rejoicing because that was the only birdie any of us had made all day. Not only that, but there was a skins game and the boys were pretty certain that birdie would win me some cash. As for the other boys, they all sunk sizeable putts for par. On one of the toughest holes, we had managed three pars and a birdie, and were willing to bet it was the best result of any of the groups by far.
That birdie on the last hole won me a skin, and a few dollars with it. I also took the last prize at the table for "A" flight. I was sixth low gross. Not the result I was looking for, but better than a kick in the teeth. That birdie on the last hole, and those excellent pars by Carl, Bob and Jim were, as a friend of Bob's would surely say, "Whipped cream on horse shit." It wasn't much, but it took some of the sting out of a tough day on the links.