Advance the ball, keep it between the ropes, GIR’s are King and occasionally, you hit it close and make a birdie (more like par). “Ok, I can do these four things” I tell myself as I’m walking to the first tee. I pull the 5 wood so I can put myself in decent position for a short approach shot from the dog leg.
The 5 wood. What used to be as close to automatic as any club I’ve ever swung, now scares the hell out of me as I address the ball. All I have to do is not top the ball, I think. I start my backswing slowly, keeping my arms connected, my right elbow, hands, shaft and club head tracing the imaginary path of my shoulder plane. Pressure on the inside of my right foot, I get to the top, my weight has already started to shift and then my only thought while starting my downswing is brushing the ground slightly as I make contact.
I know right away what has happened even as the sight of my shot barely skimming along the fairway begins to register. I look down and yup…the tell-tale “divot” in front of my tee tells me I’ve skulled another one and the adventure begins.
On another Sunday, I make this first shot, hit the green with the 2nd and par the hole. Doesn’t matter. If not on this one, it will happen on the next few. I will do something that will eliminate any chance of making par and often bogey on most holes.
There will be unnecessary layups, punches and penalties resulting in doubles and triples. A beautiful drive, following by a beautiful approach, followed by a three putt. Or a penalty followed by a perfect series of shots that earn me nothing better than 2 over for that hole. Cussing, self-deprecating, “placing” my putter back in the bag with entirely too much force. The few pars I get will not be enough to undue the damage. Makes you wonder how or why a crappy player could come back for more.
But I do. In fact, I can’t get enough of this. Even after the prospect of a good round has come and gone, there is still the likelihood of a good experience almost every time I go out.
I don’t like being bad at golf, but I love the feeling of good contact. In fact, I’m addicted to it. A well-struck long iron that starts high on a good line, draws or fades ever so slightly, lands and sticks on a tight green. Or getting into a rhythm with the driver to where I can put a little bit more into it and be confident it will remain in play. Even a chip shot that not only gets on the green, but rolls to within 1 putt territory. Occasionally, I’ll put together 3 hours with more of these than usual and be rewarded by a score I’m not embarrassed by. It’s very, very rare, but it happens. Probably the very best thing about golf is when I obtain a certain level of confidence in a stretch of a month or two. But it’s fleeting. Low points are followed by high points which are in turn followed by low points.
As each season comes and goes, and I see the handicaps of formerly high-capper TST members start to drop, I realize I struggle - probably more than average. But at the risk of conning myself, I also believe the needle is moving and the picture is very slowly changing.