My friend, work partner (and mentor) and bowling teammate was talking to another teammate about hitting the local course, the namesake of my hometown, Saturday afternoon. It’s a rare day he’s golfing in the afternoon but the way things worked out in his day, that’s how it ended up. Now, Dale was has been a friend for 25-years. We’ve bowled together for almost as long, he and his wife, my wife and me, for years. He was directly responsible for getting me into the company that would give me a career. So, when the opportunity arose to golf with Dale and his brother-in-law, for my first round since my dad passed in 2014, it had the makings of a great story.
Now, I know the course in question from having played it a few times in the past. I don’t necessarily love the course because the opportunities to pull the driver are limited. It’s very much a placement course. Too long on several holes (which is easy to do), and you’re in the creek. Too short and you’ve got a big three or five metal into the green that’s got to be perfect. Not exactly the best choice for a first time to the course after a long hiatus – but, the story trumped the course’s difficulties.
The weather wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible, either. 60 degrees, a bit below room temperature, cloudy and breezy out of the south – an interesting wind direction as the course is almost entirely east/west.
We teed off with the wind crossing from our left. I ripped a 7-metal down the righthand side, pushing it just a bit, but I hit it so hard I was sitting in perfect position under a weeping willow, about five yards from the stream and a hundred uphill yards from the hole. I pured a sand wedge right at the hole but came up a little short… it was a miscalculation on the uphill. I should have hit pitching wedge. A bad chip and a two-putt and I was sitting on a bogie.
I double-bogied the second, but parred the third. A nice little par four. I ripped the drive, snuggled up the second shot and two-putted with the last well within gimmie range. I dropped it in the cup. I bogied four but parred the fifth, a 133-yard par three. I tucked a 9-iron up close with a wicked cross-headwind from my right. Where that par gets interesting is that I have a beautiful draw swing on my irons. I can hit them a mile with a quaint draw… which gets wild with a crossing headwind going with my draw. With the right wind, like yesterday’s, I have to aim 10-yards right of the green and let it draw in, and that’s exactly what I did. An easy two-put and I was down.
The next round of fireworks hit on the eighth hole, a short 140-yard par three. We had a crosswind (no headwind with this shot), so I chose a nine iron and aimed 10 yards right of the green. I set, started my swing, and absolutely pured it – dead center of the face. The ball started up well right of the hole, then drew in toward the hole nicely. The ball dropped on the green just right of the hole and rolled just past it within inches and stopped just four feet from the pin. I almost hit a hole-in-one my first day back after eight years off. I tapped that one in for a birdie.
I closed out the ninth with a bogie for a 4-over 40… I was over the moon.
Well, I was over the moon for about ten minutes – until we headed over to ten. I blew up over the next two holes. I don’t know what happened, but I was mishitting everything. I even topped a couple of shots. Whatever went wrong with those two holes, I did something to fix it on twelve. I was right back into form again, hitting pars and bogies… till we got to 17. Rather than trying to drive the green, which I’d have been short on, I opted for a saner approach; five iron/nine iron in. See, going with a driver carries a risk – especially on one’s first day back. God only knows what I’d have done! Instead, I laid up with a seven iron well before any trouble, then had a nice full nine iron into the green. I dropped it on the green in my normal fashion with a big crossing headwind. Started right, let it draw right onto the green. I had a 20-footer left, though, and it wasn’t an easy putt. The greens had been unbelievably fast all day long – in fact, I only left two putts short all day long.
For this one, I got the roll and line perfect and the ball dropped right in the center for a second birdie on the day. I parred the 18th for a not-too-fantastic 46. I have to look at the bright side, though; save two blow-up holes on 10 & 11 and I’m down around 40 for the back nine as well. I hit my irons excellently and I had some fairway metal shots that were quite good (and one or two that were straight-up bad. I also had a couple of really nice drives.
In short, it was a great first day back. As one would expect, I’m quite sore today but those kinks will work out on the tandem. Sunday Funday rolls in less than two hours.
Good times indeed.