One of my pet peeves when discussing sports is when someone blames a loss of their favorite team on bad luck. There are certainly instances when it’s appropriate, but more often luck is overrated as the real cause.
Today’s round was going pretty well. I hadn’t totaled my score, but late in the round I knew it would be lower than normal. I’m trying to get a couple scores in the low 90’s to keep my index close to where it is, and was on track to do just that.
On the 16th, I hit a good tee shot and followed that up with a layup that had me about 110 to the center of the green. I opted to use the pitching wedge for my approach to the front hole position and hit what felt and looked to be the right shot, but the ball barely hit a branch which slowed it down just enough to land it in the bunker guarding the green.
When I crossed over the creek and got a closer look, I knew that unless I could pull off a Mickelson type shot, It’d take me two to get out. The ball was embedded high into the lip.
Two shots to get out…. If only I was that lucky.
4th (and 5th) shot: With my right foot in the bunker and my left on the grass above the lip, I hit the sand hard below the ball and upward. What happened next is a blur, but the ball seemed to be heading out of the trap when it hit my wedge a second time and bounced back in, rolling to the center of the bunker.
6th shot: I now had a decent lie so I opened the club face and tried to pop it out. Instead, I bladed it right into the side of the bunker again.
7th shot: From the bunker lip, I executed the “punch it back to the center of the trap” shot again but this time without the double hit.
8th shot: I finally got out of the bunker - 5 shots after going in - and ended up with a 10 on the par 5.
I bogeyed the 17th which brought me to the last hole. While the round wasn’t lost, the bunker debacle meant I had to score low on the 18th. I chose a 5w instead of driver to be safe…. and promptly pulled the first tee shot enough to go into the tree-lined creek. I Teed up another and repeated that result. My third tee shot finally hit the fairway.
Needless to say, I was pissed. I’d had a wonderful round but just couldn’t finish it off. The best I could do was hope one of those shots was in play - which was not bloody likely. I was certainly lying 5 and looking at another crappy score. Still, I gave the obligatory walk through just to make sure.
Lo and behold, there it was… the original ball I’d used for most of the round. Even more miraculous was the decent lie from which I was able to punch out successfully. I hit the resulting 9i approach shot to within 10 feet of the hole and 2 putt for a bogey.
Sorry for the long back story, but here’s my point…
My partner and I were discussing the round afterwards and he referenced the bad luck I’d had on 16. I told him I didn’t look at it as bad luck, but more bad play. I then went on to describe my philosophy of luck and that if anything, I have more good luck – as in when a shot is heading way out of bounds, bounces off a tree and back onto the fairway or putting green. At the very least, luck balances out. He immediately made the connection with how lucky I was at finding my errant tee shot and having an opportunity to salvage a decent score. While the bunker fiasco cost me 5 more shots than it would have had it landed a foot further, finding that needle-in-the-haystack tee shot two holes later saved those 5 shots back.