Posted: Monday May 30, 2005 12:29PM; Updated: Monday May 30, 2005 12:29PM
The e-mail from my friend Beau came on Friday night: "Be ready to break 100 tomorrow."
No worries there. I'd been ready for weeks, ever since I confessed my obsession in late March. I'd thought it through, dreamed about it. I was going to break 100, by hook or by crook. After I broke down and asked for help, you guys deluged me with advice, more than I needed, actually.
Since my short game has historically been an unmitigated disaster, I'd decided to focus on the tip about imagining a three-foot circle around the hole. That would be my hole, and it would hopefully shave off the 10 or so strokes I needed to keep me below 100.
Saturday morning, I got out to our now-regular course, Little Mountain Country Club, to get some time in around the practice green. I pitched balls for about 10 minutes and putted just as long, and I felt confident. As we approached the first tee, Beau said, "Alright, I've thought about this, and for you today, think bogeys are birdies."
I understood what he meant. If I could bogey every hole, I'd finish with an 88. And I felt good having Beau on my side, as he's probably the best golfer I know. (His goal for the day was to shoot under 80, and he finished with an 82.)
So, I stepped into the tee box, took a deep breath, reminded myself not to overswing, and promptly duffed my first drive, sending it rolling about 90 yards straight ahead.
Submit a comment or question for Lang.
My birdies turned out to be mostly double-bogeys. I started double-bogey, par, triple-bogey, bogey. Not quite what was I was looking for. My ball, meanwhile, seemed to be looking for (and finding) trees. If there was a tree within pollinating distance of my target, my ball was heading for it. I also made one of the more remarkable shots of my life when I teed off on the seventh hole, an uphill 309-yard par 4 which goes about 150 yards straight out before making an abrupt 90-degree turn to the left. Deciding to gamble, I announced that I was going to try and go through the trees and skip the turn, aiming over our carts parked just ahead. I then proceeded to hit a rocket squarely at the back of our partner's cart, about 15 yards in front of us. The ball smacked in between the two bags and disappeared, wedged between a bag and the back of the cart. (Mulligan, please!)
My drives were fair, my irons were marginally better, but my short game was fantastically horrible. Really, it would be tough to script some of the pitches I was unleashing, lofting balls back and forth across the greens as though I was trying to not stay on the green. Once I got on, I was putting really well, only posting one three-putt on the front nine. Nevertheless, I finished off the front nine with 8, 8, 6, 6 and 8, giving me a 58 for the out.
We regrouped at the turn, and, knowing I needed an improbable 41 on the final 9, I loosened up and played well. I went bogey, bogey, double-bogey, bogey, bogey on the next five holes, meaning I needed 16 on the final four to bust the century. On 15 I hit a great tee shot, landing my ball about 70 yards from the green. I got down to my ball and realized I'd left my pitching wedge back at the 14th green, so I had to hop in a cart, ride all the way back, find the club, hustle back and hit quickly. The ball went onto the green, bounced twice, and rolled off the far side and down into a creek. I finished the hole with an 8, and I finished the day with a 107.
I used to always think "head down, swing easy, just make solid contact" to myself on every shot, but I tried to not even think about that stuff. In fact, on the 11th green, just as I drew my putter back for a long bogey putt, I finally remembered the name of the TNT original movie (The Librarian: Quest For The Spear) that we'd been trying to recall for the previous five holes. (Don't ask.)
I've said before that my game is one of ebbs and ebbs -- there's very little flow -- and that's exactly how I played on Saturday. But I found myself thinking about how, unlike in any other sport, there was no one to root against. In basketball, we all boo Reggie Miller when he drains the clutch 3 to knock our team out. In golf, there's no one to blame but you.
So, I take full credit for my slow start. Still, I shot a 45 on the back nine. A 45! Now if I can just figure out how to double that next time.
And, as always, my struggle is yours. Read my saga, send me your advice. I've got a tee time somewhere exotic in a few weeks. Maybe that'll be the day?
To be continued...
Game Of The Week
Once you get past the ads for sensible snacking, this Acrobats game on the Nabisco Web site is oddly engrossing. I scored 2,350 on my first game. (Warning: You may want to mute your computer unless you want your boss to hear circus music blaring from your PC.)
Caption Of The Week
We had something of a disaster occur last week on the Caption contest. Yahoo.com changed their photo format, so the picture I linked to changed every day. When I sent my column in, it was a picture of a really fat baby. By the time the column got posted, it was a picture of two women demonstrating a machine that simulates weightless sex.
So ... I need a new picture site. Anyone got a good news site with funny pictures? Send it on.
Bar Blog Of The Week
I know so many people that wish this was their site. One man, one year, 1,000 bars.
Icon War of the Week
This is kind of like Paper, Scissors, Rock crossed with a computer desktop. I'd kinda like to see the iTunes icon get all medieval on that Explorer logo.
Lang Whitaker is the online editor at SLAM magazine and writes daily at http://www.SLAMonline.com