Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My golf: the not so good, the bad and the truly ugly

I enjoy playing golf. I used to play a lot and actually got fairly decent at it. Fairly decent? What does that mean, you ask? Basically it means I didn’t stink as much then as I do now.

On Monday, my good friend Ralph Perdue Jr. made the mistake of inviting me to go golf with him. I think he was just being nice, or there wasn’t anybody else to play with.

Ralph and I have played hundreds of times. So he should know better. I don’t play much any more and haven’t played in several months. We also didn’t get any time to warm up. Yes, I am making excuses, and you will see why shortly.

So we arrived at the first tee at the Choctaw Country Club on a brilliant, yet somewhat windy (yes, another excuse, I’ve got a bunch) day to play a friendly round of the gentleman’s game.

Ralph’s daughter, Journey, joined us, mainly to drive his cart. On the first hole, you can hit it down the middle (as if) and there is roughly two hundred yards on the right to hit to so you can avoid the driving range and out of bounds to the left.

I promptly pulled my first tee shot to the left and out of bounds. Being the nice guy he is, Ralph allowed me to hit a mulligan, which I promptly sailed out of bounds as well.

I decided to hit from the approximate place my ball went out of bounds, plus around 50 yards closer to the green. No, this is not how you are actually supposed to play the game. So?

My next shot went approximately 25 yards as some of the mud went farther than my ball, I didn’t see Ralph’s face, but I could imagine his look. Finally, I pulled out the trusty old six iron from 155 and HIT THE BALL GOOD! Too good, actually, as I sailed the green. From there I promptly hit a chip around two feet, putted way past the pin and three-putted from there.

No, I wasn't off to a good start sport fans! The second hole is a Par 3. I hit the old 6-iron pretty good the last hole so I decided to try my luck. Whoa, I hit it decent, and came up only about 15 yards to the right. Thank you oh 6-iron.

Guess I should have chipped with the 6-iron as I again plopped my chip about three feet then muscled my next chip over the green. Yeah, the old short game was biting so far, not that it got much better. I pulled my next chip about half way to the pin and two putted.

Argh, I thought. At least Journey was not critical. On to three! I managed to duck hook a 5-wood into the pond on the left. No, this was not how the shot was supposed to be played. I got lazy, saw Ralph was not paying attention and found a drop spot with a good opening, not that it helped as my next shot went into the far side of the fairway with trees looming over and between me and the green.

Not that the trees hurt as I hit a worm burner that skidded to a stop well short of the green. I chipped, chipped again, found the green and two or three putted.

But at least it was a nice day! On to hole 4, my favorite! I hit a little slice, not that I planned on it, and wound up in…gasp! The fairway! An easy second shot. Ralph had a much tougher shot and wound up just short of the green. I could have probably spit a loogie on the green from where I was. Sadly, I had to chip and wound up right next to his ball. I promptly shanked a chip across the green and two putted for the dreaded bogey.

Five was right into the teeth of the wind. That actually helped as my drive came up about two feet short of the ditch. I had some good grass and decided a 3-wood would be perfect. I hit a dribbler that was so ugly it actually turned out decent.

I promptly air mailed the green, hit another horrid chip and two putted for another bogey. Again, it was a nice day!

The hole I hate the most was next. Numero 6, but at least the wind was behind us. Ralph hit a so-so driver, which still found the fairway. Old Craigger hit a perfect drive! I was in the fairway, only 110 out! Yes, miracles do happen! My second shot was right at the pin, only about 10 feet or so away! A chance for a birdie!

Well, it would have been but I hit a chicken shot and wound up about two feet above the cup. I did make the putt for a par!

I had momentum going now, by gosh! Pumped up, I promptly pulled a drive so far to the left we never found the dratted ball. I blame it on hitting into the sun. Ralph probably blamed it on the duck hook. I dropped somewhere on the other side with a clear view of the green and hit one about 10 yards or so. I tried another and got about halfway to the green.

My next shot went over the green, of course, where I promptly hit a decent chip and two putted.
On to 8. Since I did not want my duck hook to get out of practice, I hit another one. A nice, high one that settled close to the trees on the left that nobody but I ever seem to hit into. A cruddy chip, another one and I two putted.

Hole No. 9 is another favorite. I actually hit another decent drive, even Ralph said so! Naturally, I had a brain poot on the second shot and hit it shorter than Journey can hit a ball, had to pull out an iron and hit in the fairway. My next shot sailed the green, leaving a nasty chip, not that I needed a nasty chip to mess up. Another multi-putt and the first nine holes were over.

Since my first try on No. 1 was so bad, I decided a repeat was in order. For those not familiar with Choctaw, it is a 9-hole course with the tees at different locations. I promptly hit the trees on the left, again, but this time got a lucky bounce and it stayed in bounds. I cranked my second shot at least 50 yards and hit an ugly slice to the right of the cart path. I chipped another bad one, putted too many times and was through with that hole.

On the 11th hole, my good old duck hook came back into play and I about knocked one into Mike Thomas’ yard. The second shot wasn’t much better, neither was the chip or putt.

But we were making good time and it was still a nice day! Somehow, Ralph was only four over on the day. I guess he was getting plenty of rest from all the times I was hitting the ball. On 12, I got a good bounce off a tree and wound up in the fairway! My second shot actually found the green! Another try for a makeable birdie, like I get many of those. The putt was on line! Sadly, it came up roughly two feet short, but I did make the next one for a par!

The dreaded Par-3 13th was next. Plenty of fairway, just a long hole. Naturally, I pulled my drive into the pond, which was WAY to the left. I chipped, chipped again, putted badly a couple of times and we were on to the next hole.

Fourteen was again a Par-5. A perfect drive. I tried to take advantage of this, but it doesn’t work that well when I slice my second shot into the water. Dropped again, hit a perfectly crappy shot, hit over the green, three putted and the sun had set quite a bit on that hole. Darkness was approaching!

I took advantage of the short 15th hole by once again hitting a massive duck hook into the fairway of the next hole. I couldn’t judge the distance, not that it would have helped much, but I hit what I thought was a good ball, until it plunked into the muck in front of the green. A drop, decent chip and two putts later, the hole was done.

On 16, I skipped one into the second ditch, but avoided the pond right in front of the tee. A drop, bad shot and one over the green. A poor chip, but I made a long putt.

It was really starting to get dark. The winds had died some, but the cold was moving in. After Ralph hit a decent shot on 17, somehow I hit one on the green. Another makeable birdie putt, at least for most people. Unfortunately, I hit another shorty and wound up with a par.

After 17 holes, I had finally beat Ralph on a hole! I had honors! I avoided looking at Ralph, fearing he might catch me gloating. I yanked a drive way left but luckily there was a big pile of gunk that kept the ball from going out of bounds. A nice iron shot that caught a tree and settled the ball in more mud before it could bounce into a pond. I absolutely somehow killed a 4-iron and wound up in the fairway!

I air-mailed the green once again, chipped rather embarrassingly halfway to the pin, two putted and the day was over.

But it was a nice day!

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