It is always fascinating to me how all sports seemed to have developed a structure that tests the participants for a sufficient length of time to separate the wheat from the chaff. In football one has to play both halves. Remember the Super Bowl? The seventh inning stretch doesn’t end the game, the 8th and 9th innings must be played. Long ago when the game of golf was being formed, somehow the founders knew that 9 holes would not require the consistency a truly sound golfer must have to succeed. No, the test would have to 18.
A recent tournament in which I played reminded me of what I might call “The Nine Hole Conundrum.” The “NHC” is that a double-digit handicap player can play almost like a scratch player, but only for nine holes. If 18 holes are played, the longer contest inevitably sees the player revert to the norm.
In the tournament, Greg had a rough start Wednesday. Our shot gun start began on #16 and he was 5 over par when we made the turn to #1. At that point he became a changed man. He shot -3 for the front nine. Every shot was struck crisply, putts were holed and he even chipped in for a birdie. Then, when we moved to #10, he fell back to his original form. At the end of the day, he had shot 33-49-82.
Most of us can probably recall how we once (or still?) were in search of “breaking 80” (or 90 or 100). We could perform admirably for 9 holes. It was totally frustrating to know we had the skills to reach our numerical goal but lacked the consistency to hold it together for a full round.
I don’t have the answer. While I do have those consistent 18-hole rounds, there are many times where I fall prey to the “NHC” and turn a promising front side into a mess.