My Wednesday evening twilight round was an unmitigated disaster. And a triumph.
From a swing standpoint, I don’t remember feeling so awkward. Nothing felt right. Even standing over the ball felt alien. I hit the ball fat. I hit it thin. I hooked. I hit shanks. I repeatedly found myself in the woods. Every hole was a struggle.
This was one of those rounds where players rage at the Golf Gods, throw clubs and threaten to quit the game. After two holes, I was headed to that dark place.
Then I remembered a piece of advice from Walter Hagen: Three bad shots and one good one equals par. Or in my case, four bad shots and one good one equals bogey.
And another bit of advice, from some unknown golf philosopher: The only thing that matters is getting the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible.
And this: Play golf, not golf swing.
I decided that I was not going to let the game beat me. I would finish even if I had to chip and putt my way down the fairway.
In spite of feeling as though I had no business being on the course, with a bit of luck and tenacity, I managed to salvage par or bogey on fourteen holes
On the par four fifth, my tee shot hooked into the woods. An attempt at recovery hit a tree branch and landed me in a wilderness area in knee high rough. A wedge out left me sixty yards short. My pitch with an eight iron went into the hole. An undeserved par.
On the sixth, I hit a willow near the the green. That was actually a lucky break. The ball was headed out-of-bounds. From the base of the willow, I was able to pitch up to tap-in range.
On the eighth, I hit a hook short and behind a tree. I punched out and was still 200+ to the green. I chunked an attempt to lay up to 100. My mid-iron hit the green, but was still fifty feet from the hole. I sunk the putt.
On the fourteenth, I popped my drive left into the woods (see photo, above). Attempting a low stinger between tree trunks, I managed to hit an overhanging branch, which deflected my ball back into the fairway some twenty yards away. From there, I had 150 to the center of the green. I chunked my seven iron and left it forty yards short. I then pitched it up with an eight iron to within a ball width. Tap in. Bogey.
Based on my swing, I deserved a score of 100+. Given a bit of luck and tenacity, I finished with what is for me a respectable score.