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Saturday, 15 July 2017

You Never Know If You Don't Give Up

You just never know in this game if you don't give up. That was perhaps, according to Bobby Jones, Harry Vardon's greatest strength. He just kept on hitting the ball; no matter what. Bobby Jones eventually learned to do the same. Patience and persistence are vital in golf, and in life. You just never know, if you don't give up.

I had another good match with Steve and Spiro yesterday. Playing their best ball, I got off to a good start and got to two up fairly early in the proceedings. But the boys ham-and-egged it, and fought their way back.

By seventeen the boys were dormie, after I somehow managed to take a seven on the par five sixteenth. I say, "somehow," because I was nicely positioned in the fairway, a hundred yards from the green in two, when I managed to pull my wedge left of the green and into some tree roots. From there, I stick-handled my way to a seven. It was the old, "one shot begets another," story.

Needless to say, the boys were feeling pretty good on seventeen. They pretty much figured they had the match in the bag after Steve stood up and hit a perfect drive, probably his best of the day. But I matched him, and there we were "side by each," as the Quebec folk would say, about 140 yards from the pin. I hit an eight iron and pushed it shirt and right of the green. Steve hit a nine iron that looked to be perfect, but kicked right when it landed and just trickled off the edge of the green into the thick collar. Spiro was short and left of the green in two after hitting a good shot over the trees from about 200 yards. 

At this point, I was figuring on having to hole my pitch from the right rough in order to stay alive. I figured a par wasn't going to cut it. I focussed with all my might and hit what looked to be a perfect pitch. The ball landed on my spot, but bounced slightly to the right and ended up about a foot from the hole for a gimmee four. Spiro and Steve then both failed to get their balls up and down for the win. I went to eighteen still alive, but down one.

On eighteen, I've generally been using my old 28 degree Taylormade wood or a six iron, depending on the pin and the wind. Although the wind was hurting a bit and across from left to right, I chose the six iron, knowing I'd need to hit a solid draw to hold it against the wind and get to the left middle pin. I somehow managed to hit the exact shot I'd envisioned--which obviously doesn't happen all that often--and ended up about five feet short and left of the pin. 

Perhaps a bit shaken by my tee shot, Spiro pushed his tee shot out of bounds on the right, and Steve missed the green short and left, leaving himself a tough pitch if he hoped to make par. He chunked it, missed the next pitch long, and I was able to calmly roll in my putt for a birdie and another halved match--or as Spiro would say, "No blood."

It was another fun match that came down to the eighteenth hole. Those are the best matches; the ones that come down to the end and force you to really grind. Steve and Spiro played pretty well. And, other than making two sevens on par fives today, I figured I played pretty well also. Clearly, however, Steve and Spiro are either getting better, or I'm getting worse; because there was a time, not all that long ago, when I had to give them strokes as well as play their best ball. They certainly didn't need any strokes today.

And what did I learn today? I learned, once again, that I'm not very good from 100 yards. I learned that I really hate making sevens on par fives. And I learned, once again, that it pays never to give up. After the double on sixteen to go two down with two to play, and then the disappointing pushed eight iron on seventeen, I could have easily given up. But I scrambled a par and then made a nice birdie on eighteen to halve the match. Sometimes it pays to hang in there, even when things look awfully bleak. You just never know in this game. It ain't over 'til it's over--at least it ain't over if you don't give up.