I’ve recently discovered that I have a dark side to my personality: I’m a masochist.
While on vacation recently in Maryland, I chose to play the PB Dye Signature Course, recently voted the 26th toughest course in America by Golf Digest Magazine. And I scheduled a round there knowing full well that my driver and fairway woods haven’t been cooperating.
There was just something thrilling about the prospect of going up against one of America’s toughest courses. I particularly liked PB Dye’s comment on his course design: “I’m a golfer’s worst nightmare– a bulldozer operator with a scratch handicap and an Irish sense of humor.”
Just to make things tougher, I also decided to play from the blues instead of my usual whites. I was prepared for a massacre and expected to enjoy every moment. Mrs. Golfblogger pointed out that there’s something twisted about that.
But upon reflection, I find that my favorite rounds have been the ones where I’ve had to fight for par and bogey.
For me, a round isn’t fun unless I have to extricate myself from a couple of really tricky situations. Not that I actually try to get in those spots, mind you. That happens all on its own. But once there, I love the test.
My favorite shot in golf is not the nine iron from the middle of the fairway. My favorite is the out-of-the-rough-under-the-overhanging-branch-over-the bunker-run-it-up-to-the-green shot (I had one of those at the PB Dye. I popped the ball with a five wood and it worked perfectly).
With those shots, it’s all about imagination. Pulling the 120 club and hitting from the fairway on every par four: that’s repetitive and tedious. Studying the bag, trying to figure out which one and what kind of swing is going to do the job: that’s entertaining.
I also enjoy scrambling for par, or more often, bogey. I had a lot of those at the PB Dye. I wasn’t getting any distance with my driver, so my second shot often was a layup to a hundred yards, where I was reasonably certain I could hit my gap wedge into the green. Sometimes I’d take a long shot at the green with a wood and then have to putt, chip, pitch or lob my way on. Of course, that kind of play means that every putt is made under pressure. A one put is a par; two is bogey. Nothing dull about that.
Blind shots on an unknown course are another kind of thrill. The PB Dye had a lot of those. I’d study the yardage book, take aim at the recommended landmark and let it rip. Since I couldn’t see where ball landed, I’d rush forward, practically holding my breath all the while hoping that everything was okay.
It was a tough day and a lot of fun. And I didn’t do as poorly as I thought I might: my final score was a 93. Not bad for the first time through the twenty sixth toughest course in America.
I’d love to try another on that list. I admit it. I’m a golf masochist.
Mrs. Golfblogger is, I am sure, glad that my dark side applies only to my golf.