Monday, 28 May 2018

Golf Rarely Goes as Planned

Golf, like life, seldom goes as planned. All you can really do, in golf as in life, is refuse to give up no matter how miserable it is.

I played in the qualifier for our club team yesterday. I didn't have particularly high expectations, since I've struggled mightily with my game this year. But I never expected to putt as abysmally as I did. I hit the ball as well as I've hit it for years, but couldn't buy a putt. I missed at least six putts inside five feet, including a couple of two footers.

In the end I was tied with Randy for the last spot on the team and we had to play off. Randy had become angry on the fifteenth hole when, after searching in vain for his ball for at least ten minutes, I said we had to move on. I advised him that five minutes was the time allotted by the rules to look for a lost ball and we had well exceeded that. He was furious. But that's the rule.

As we were about to tee off for the playoff Randy angrily stated that there wouldn't have had to be a playoff if he had found his lost ball. I replied: "Yep. And if your aunt had had nuts she'd have been your uncle." I didn't bother mentioning all the short putts I had missed.

The first hole is a short dogleg par four. I hit a perfect three wood, leaving myself sixty yards to a front pin. Randy tried to take the Tiger line over the trees to the front edge of the green, managed to clatter through the trees, and had about a forty yard pitch over the pond.

I hit it to about five feet. Randy hit a pitch just over the pond into the thick grass and his ball somehow bounced through the rough, onto the green to about two feet from the pin. Levi had driven out to watch the playoff, and I had told him I was going to look at the playiff like a new round, forgetting all the lousy putts I'd hit. I assured him I was going to just stand up and knock that putt in, with the expectation that we'd be going to a second playoff hole.

Sure enough, I stood up and knocked it in the hole. Randy was probably vexed that I was making him putt his two footer, but I'd missed a couple, and he was being a prick, so I made him putt it. Sure enough, Randy lipped it out, banged his ball off the green in disgust, and actually threw his putter at his cart. He drove away without shaking my hand.

So, the moral of my story is: don't give up, Randy is a dickhead, and, if your aunt had had nuts, she'd have been your uncle. Golf rarely goes as planned. But, if you keep trying, things sometimes work out. And sometimes they won't, but at least you'll have the consolation of knowing you tried your hardest.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Try Harder

Bobby Jones identified these two things that he felt made him able to win championships. In his wonderful book, Golf is my GameBobby wrote: 

    "I have always said that I won golf tournaments because I tried harder than anyone else and was willing to take more punishment than the others." 

Sometimes great golfers can make the game look easy. They can appear relaxed and maybe even casual as they go about their business. But the great players all try the hardest. They refuse to give up, or to take shots for granted. They realize that one shot played carelessly can cost them a tournament. 

Now, if I'm being honest, I don't think I've ever played eighteen holes of golf where I gave every shot my full attention. I've come close, but if you've ever tried it, it's hard work to concentrate that hard and maintain your intensity on every shot for 18 holes of golf. And where you tend to have the let-downs are when you have what appears to be a relatively simple shot. It's easy to focus and try hard on the tough shots. So, trying hard is a key element in becoming a good golfer. Golf, as Bobby Jones once pointed out, is not a game to be played impetuously. You've got to try on every shot; whether it's for birdie or double bogey.

And golf does punish you. The other day I played with Steve, Levi, and Justin. Justin and I were teamed up and I started with three doubles in a row. In fact, I played the first nine holes without making a single par, shooting 49. I cannot remember the last time I shot 49 for nine holes. Needless to say, Justin wasn't overly thrilled to have me as a partner. Not only that, but I had only brought one pain pill which I had taken at the start of the front nine. These days, with my back issues, I tend to require a hydromorphone every six holes to get around without being in agony. 

So, after nine holes I felt well and truly punished. If ever a man felt like quitting it was me. But, as I drove to the eleventh tee after finally making a par on ten, I told Levi that, while I really wanted to just quit, I was going to keep trying. I was bound and determined to just keep on hitting it, no matter what happened, which was Harry Vardon's advice to Bobby Jones--the best advice Bobby felt he'd ever received. Suffice it to say, not giving up worked, and I came home in 37. And, Justin and I actually came back and won the match.

Golf is a lot like life. You never know what can happen if you just keep trying and refuse to give up. So trying hard and being willing to endure the punishment--the trials and tribulations this game can put you through--is the first key to winning golf. In my next article, I'll write about what Bobby Jones felt was the second key to great golf.