We are playing Silverado's South Course, which has a par of 35-37—72. It is not long, but it is tight and the rough is heavy and the greens have quite a bit of slope so we will have to putt well. All the par 5s can be reached in two if you want to gamble. However, they all have trouble near the greens, and if a player loses his patience it will be easy to make double bogeys or worse. When the tournament starts I think I'll tuck my gambling shots into my shoe along with my money. Unless I'm certain to carry the trouble I'll be laying up on the long holes.
I'm not hitting a lot of practice balls this week. Instead, I am trying to prepare myself mentally. G olf is a lot like a chess game. You must discipline yourself and plan ahead while making each move one at a time. I didn't always understand this. I played in my first U.S. Open when I was 17 and Arnold Palmer introduced himself to me in the locker room and asked me to play a practice round with him the following day. I was so excited that I went out the next morning and played 18 holes to warm up.
I have a caddie. Some guys carry their own bags or use a golf cart, but I've found that I play better with a caddie, although this caddie is the first I've ever had with a beard and a pony tail. But this is California, isn't it?
Sunday, Oct. 29
My day consisted of relaxing on a drive up in the mountains.
It is really beautiful up there, unspoiled. Down below you can see the vineyards of the Napa Valley, which is the wine country of California. The drive really relaxed me. Basically I am a quiet person. I don't feel comfortable in flashy clothes or around gregarious people. Maybe that is why I like golf. It is a solitary game. Nothing is as lonely as standing over a difficult shot in a pressure situation.
Jack Nicklaus, who I'll admit is my idol, once told me that very few bachelors do well on the tour. His theory was that you need someone for companionship and you need someone to help with organizing things so you can concentrate on golf. Jack said that a husband and wife work together as a team on the tour. At the moment I'm single, but I have a steady girl, Sherry Turner, who is the daughter of my college golf coach, Jesse Haddock, and I guess you could say we're thinking about marriage. [They are now engaged.]
I just finished making out a list of things I want to do this week. 1) I want to get involved, not let my mind wander. 2) I want to keep in mind that there is plenty of time, six rounds, and that I must play only one shot at a time and not press if I start out poorly. 3) I want to ignore anyone else's early low scores because there will be some; I don't think anyone will shoot good scores for six rounds. I'm in the first group off the 10th tee at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow. I hope I sleep well tonight.
Monday, Oct. 30
Today was unreal. What happened to our good weather? When I got up there were winds between 35 and 45 mph. The temperature was down around 50, maybe lower. I was five over par after six holes, and starting to think that I might shoot an 80. But I didn't panic, because I knew the rest of the field had to be in trouble, too. All those short dinky holes suddenly were hard to reach with your two best shots when you were into the wind, and going downwind it was impossible to judge what club to use. A wedge could sail 140 yards. The wind started diminishing near the end of my first nine, and I settled down and played the last 12 one under par to shoot a 76, which ties me for 18th. Twenty-five guys shot 80 or worse, and I can certainly understand it. Victor Regalado of Tijuana, Mexico had the low round of the day, an amazing 70, which is even more astounding, considering that he had a triple bogey seven on the first hole. Maybe he thinks he's Lee Trevino.