Lifetime on the Course: A Series of Milestones

December 21, 2012

For golfers, I find, it’s a progression. You start the game and can barely get the ball airborne. You hit that first shot flush and straight and it’s like water to a thirsty man. You find yourself addicted, at some point, waiting for that next “my best score” round.

It starts with breaking 100, making your first par, your first birdie, maybe even your first eagle. Then breaking 90, 80, setting a new personal best, breaking par for 9 holes, having a streak of pars-or-better in a row, or going a certain number of a rounds without losing a ball. We remember these moments–well, some of them.

I barely recall breaking 100–I was at Sugar Creek Golf Course in Atlanta. I believe I shot 94. I think I also had my first birdie ever during that round. I don’t recall much else–I was probably younger than 13. I remember breaking 90, although only vaguely. It was the only time I’ve ever played the Alfred ‘Tup’ Holmes golf course in Atlanta. I had 15 bogeys, one double-bogey, and two pars to shoot 89. I broke 80 at a course that no longer exists called “Atlanta International.” Kind of a sad state of affairs the way that course went under–more on that at a later portion of the series. I was probably 16 or 17 when this happened.

My first “under par” round was at Bobby Jones Golf Course when I was in college at GA Tech. I went out on a muddy afternoon and walked with 3 young professionals who were all riding and drinking beer. I remember talking with one of the guys and saying “it’s been a pretty good round” at about the 14th or 15th hole. He said “have you made any birdies?” I responded “I’m three under right now.” Clearly, it was not being noticed. I shot -1 that day (2 bogeys coming down the stretch).

My two best rounds to date, however, both came about in 2010. Oddly enough, they both happened while I was searching for a new set of irons, and with both of them I got rid of the irons shortly thereafter.

Perhaps what I’d call my best round of golf ever occurred in April 2010. I decided to play with my wife’s uncle at Mystery Valley. In this round, I used a set of Mizuno MP-67 irons that I had just bought a few weeks earlier. Perhaps my best position relative to par was when I walked off of the 10th green, at -4. I don’t believe I’ve ever been further under par than that. I almost sunk the eagle putt too, from 35 or so feet, double-breaking almost 10 feet at the end. I had 5 birdies, and I still maintain I got screwed on the 17th hole, when my GPS told me I had 160 yards out and I ended up flying the green, the bunker behind the green, and going about 15 yards into the woods with an 8-iron.

Funny–I remember thinking the round started out badly, and thinking it might be a rough day when I had to save par on the 1st and 2d holes and was wide right on the third. When I chipped in on the third hole, though, my mindset changed–now, I thought, this might be a good day after all. 33 on the front side and an even par 36 on the back side had me breaking 70 for the first time in my life. Pretty awesome, all things considered.
MV rd

The only round that could rival my Mystery Valley performance was my performance later in the year at Lanier Golf Club. This round is STILL the only round for which I have not made a single bogey during the entire round. Only three birdies–and I was working with a -2 round for most of the day. The greens were terrible, and even though I hit a lot of quality golf shots, I did not do a lot of scoring. Still, I managed to work my way around the tightly tree-lined fairways and finish with an under-par round of -3, 69. This was with a set of MP-32s that–I convinced myself later–I hit “too far” and ended up selling to LG, who then sold to another person. They were, in fact, pretty tremendous irons.
L rd

What’s interesting about both of the rounds: great ballstriking was a premium. Although we often think of great putting and chipping as the key to the game, in this case, ballstriking was necessary. Hitting 12 and 14 greens per round, respectively, certainly gave a HUGE advantage.

Regardless, you remember these moments for what they were. These moments on the course were ones I can tell my kids some day, ones I can brag about when I need a story, ones I can say “when I shot 69 here, the pin was there.” Not everyone has the opportunity to say that with respect to breaking 70, but everyone has that moment in their golfing careers. For me, it took 18 years to shoot an 18-hole round without a bogey–and in the two years since, I still haven’t done it again. But the game is a series of milestones, some easier to remember than others, some bigger deals than others, but each one another piece of the legacy of your time on the course. And those achievements are what we chase every time we play this great game. So go out there and find your next one. It might be closer than you think.

One Response to “Lifetime on the Course: A Series of Milestones”

  1. LG Says:

    Those 32s were good to both of us. Those are the reason I still use the Lamkin torsion control grips. Good post, sir.

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