25 June 2007

72


I am at peace with the golf gods now . . .

Last Friday I shot even par on the golf course for the first time. Officially, I had shot 1-under par (71) one time last year, and that remains my best round ever. But that round was a daring, devilish round of golf that saw me 4-over par through 12 holes, only to make birdie on 5 of the last 6 to end up with an astonishing 71. If that one was all glitz and glimmer, this one was steady and sure.

And plus, this one was par. Not under par, which, in terms of score, is better, but is more like cheating death and coming out way ahead. No, shooting even par was something more tranquil and necessary for my overall golf karma to be whole. Now the round of 71 has a companion - a majestic 72.

The start. If this were the Oscars, I would have to take a brief moment to thank all of the early shots that made it possible, long before we knew the round's result. The brilliant bending 12-foot putt that I made on #1 to save par (who knew that stroke would be so important). The fantastic kick off of the back of the greenside bunker on my approach at #5, leaving me a 3-footer for birdie. And who can forget the snaking 10-footer coming back down the hill on #10 to save bogey after I'd hit in the water on my tee shot.

The middle. From that bogey on #10 I went on to make six straight pars. The par putt on #13 was absolutely ridiculous - I'll admit that I didn't deserve that one. But justice was properly meted out on the very next hole when my 5-footer for birdie didn't drop.

In the end, I stood at +2 through 16 holes, having failed to make birdie at #15 and #16 and feeling like my chance to scare up a par round was lost. Both seventeen and eighteen are notoriously difficult for me to birdie. The math, it would seem, was against me at that point.

The end. Seventeen. 157 yards, par 3. The flag was red and left of center. I pulled out my 6-iron and decided upon a cut shot, giving it plenty of extra power to offset the left-to-right movement I expected. Of course, expecting a shot to behave a certain way is the easier part of the equation. Actually executing it is the part that makes golf a difficult game.

The shot sailed away smoothly, streaking left and then cutting back to the right on my command. It hit the green with a beautiful thud and then trickled further right, tailing away to a distance of 12 feet from the pin. Gorgeous.

At this point I still wasn't thinking about shooting a par round. This putt would have to drop and I would still need to birdie #18. I took aim with my cunning new putter and rolled it in the hole as smoothly as can be imagined. Now it's +1 through seventeen holes and I'm beginning to think.

Eighteen. Looking back, this was the birdie that almost wasn't. I told myself not to over-hit the drive, but I greased it during the backswing and hung it out to the right. I carried the right fairway bunker sufficiently and the ball came down on the hill behind it, taking a gorgeous leftward bounce back towards the fairway. I had 130 left to a red center-cut pin.

Same plan as on seventeen, really. This time I took the 8-iron because the hole plays uphill to an elevated green. No sense in leaving this one short - I was 130 yards from having a birdie putt to shoot even par. I tried to take an easy swing, opening up the front foot to cut this one as well. I hit it so perfectly that I called it while it was in the air. "Oh, that's good. Watch it cut - CUT! - and trickle to the flag. Go baby. GO!"

Seven and a half feet standing between me and even par. The other guys finished out. I liked my line. No way I was leaving this one short. No way, not today.

The strange thing is that I expected the ball to go in. It was a good stroke, a good read, and why shouldn't it drop? It did. I shouted. I hooted. Knowles gave me a high five. Who knows how many hundreds of rounds I've played - how many thousands of hours I've spent - in pursuit of that moment.

Par. Even par. 37 on the front, 35 on the back. Birdie, birdie to end it. A round of 72 that will never be forgotten.

9 comments:

ashleyboice said...

congrats!

Cheeth said...

Yes, very nice work. Too bad golf isn't a sport.

Also, don't listen to Shane (I know you don't anyway). Your blogs are great. Let's lunch when I go there in August.

Cheeth said...

And for more Vonnegut madness, I highly recommend Cat's Cradle and Breakfast of Champions.

Captain Emus said...

Cheeth, I have heard that "A Man Without A Country" is the next Vonnegut I should tackle. Have you read it? Between Cat's Cradle and Breakfast of Champions, which would you recommend first?

Cheeth said...

I haven't read Man Without a Country, but of Cat's Cradle and Breakfast of Champions, I'd say Cat's Cradle. It's genius. But then you'd have to read Breakfast right after that, and then maybe send me a hundred bucks.

Captain Emus said...

A hundred bucks . . . would you take a hundred yen?

Supercords said...

The only thing more boring than listening to you talk about golf would be accidentally reading the first paragraph of this post before realizing the ENTIRE thing is about golf.

What's next: fantasy sports strategies and the finer points of contract negotiation?

Shane

Captain Emus said...

Shane, golf is a form of elevated consciousness that you will never understand. And until you stop publishing your grocery lists for the world to see, you can pipe down about other peoples' blog topics.

allison said...

I completely disagree with Shane. I have no interest in golf as I have never taken any time to learn its terminology or strategies. However, your entry was riveting for me to read...like a juicy novel...which, frankly, surprised me! Congratulations!