Last weekend, I joined the first tee time on Saturday morning with my friends Ron, Bob and Don at my home course of North Hills Country Club in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
I had a really great streak of golfing going during July and August, which dropped my index down from 12.2 to a 9.0, and was feeling great about how well I was playing.
The last couple of weeks, on the other hand, have seen some much less exciting rounds, including one the week before that resulted in me losing $45 in a game that usually nets a total of $3 to $5 all said.
My drive has been errant, and leaving me in all kinds of tough spots for my second shots, and my putting has been atrocious, leaving me with a constant feel of “How hard should I hit this?”
I was having a lackluster round on Saturday morning, and started the eighteenth hole with 88 strokes already. Nobody else was playing very well, though, either, so any money won or lost was going to happen on eighteen.
Just as I did every hole since the twelfth, my tee shot went well left and under a tree. I hit a solid three-wood under the branches and to 126 yards from a back pin location on the finishing par five.
I thought to myself, “Just one good shot,” and made sure my alignment was right and put a good swing on a pitching wedge from the rough.
“That felt really good,” I told Ron. “That looks really good,” Don said. The ball was flying right at my target, the right side of the green. It hit half-way up the green and started rolling left toward the pin. “Did that go in?” I asked as it disappeared from site. Everyone started cheering – it was hilarious, and exhilarating.
Even during the most challenging rounds when I seem to be snap-hooking everything off the tee, there is always the chance for redemption, and as I collected my $10 over breakfast (my biggest win in a morning foursome game at North Hills in three years, ha!) I didn’t remember the net 81 I just shot, but instead that one great shot for eagle on eighteen. It was just my second eagle of the year, and I’ve been hearing about it daily from North Hills members who keep up on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel local sports section.
Sometimes it seems like the best feeling approach shots do not turn out the best. And how often do you hear about a 20-plus handicap hitting a tree on a par three hole and watching it carom on to the green and in for a hole-in-one? It never seems to be a swing that felt great.
The game of golf is funny. I never seem to know what will happen from day to day, but I always enjoy my time on the links and – my friends tease me a lot for this – stay positive almost to a fault: “I know that area;” “I’ve parred from there before;” “How awesome would it be if I can birdie from that trap?” “I can get that up and down;” “That’s alright, I like the sand.”
I know it’s cliche, but every bad break is a chance for an amazing next shot. Maybe that’s what keeps us playing round after round, even in the midst of bouts with high scores, lost matches and a skyrocketing handicap. Golf always seems to find a way to keep us coming back.