I was on fire today at Rutgers University Golf Course. The golfer I know is inside me made another appearance, his fourth or fifth this year. Black tees. I have had a great year this year on the course with the sticks. In fact after a few good rounds I decided to renew my handicap and proceeded to shoot 90 or better 10/11 rounds. So it is a good year when breaking 90 is now the goal and not 95 or even the now dreaded hunnert. Now I understand that you may not care but I have no one else to tell so sit right back and enjoy a tale, a tale of a fateful trip around the links.
I played with three gentlemen who were together, but since I play RU so often I had played with one of the guys a few weeks ago as well. So that was nice. I won't go around the course hole by hole, but the tale of the day resides in the fact that I started out pretty well, par on 1 and 2, 3 putt bogey and par again on 4 after a missed birdie opportunity. Four was also the first of 4 very good sand shots today. OH SANDY BABY! So after 6 I was 2 over and feeling good about things. The middle 6 at Rutgers is a tough stretch, but that is not what did me in today. I started talking to the golfer I played with a few weeks ago and a certain subject came up that demanded my focus. It isn't what you're thinking, but what the subject was is irrelevant. The result was a lack of focus as I was absorbed in discussion for a few holes and then left with some things to think about. Yes, I went double, double at 7 and 8 after the initial disturbance in The Force had occurred. I did par 9 deep in thought after blasting a wicked drive and a sweet 4 iron to the back of the green; that left me at par on five holes and 42 on the front.
However Ten is the bane of my existence and I again failed to make par on this hole, the only such hole on the course I have not had a par on at some point this year. In fact I struck a nice 3 iron off the tee but managed a 3 putt 6 after chunking a 6 iron approach shot. Fuck that hole. Fuck that hole in any and every orifice it has. Rumor has it that a fox lives on this hole but since the hole hates me I have never spotted sly Mr. Fox this year. Well fuck that fox in his hole too. In his sandy hole. His dry, green, parking-lot firm and sandy hole.
In any event it was 6, 4, 6 to start the back and make it eight over on the middle six. I had gone from 2 over after 6 to 10 over after 12. So much for that. I went from feeling like The Bishop in Caddyshack to a feeling and ball-striking like a first class moron. I knew it was the talk that had shaken my focus, and I know after playing golf this year for the first time in my life at a decent level consistently that a truly good round requires a level of focus I have never achieved. It is really quite startling. Golf is a matter of precision and degrees. Every shot must have focus. Stance, grip, body alignment, swing plane, and angle of attack to the green must then account for the physical characteristics of each shot. One triple bogey ruins it. One bad shot at the wrong time, or even any time at all, ruins it. Three putts ruin it. Every single fucking shot counts. Now it was after I missed a makeable 10 footer on 12 for bogey that I took a gimme 3 footer for double that I snapped out of it. To that point I had heard the cup rattle every hole and I was kind of proud of that with these 3 other strangers in my group. They had missed some short ones and kinda talked it over every once in a while amongst themselves, as Ken was to let me know. But I myself knew that stroke could have been missed and I should have counted until ball hit cup.
Another point bears mention. I am a constant and unstoppable scorecard counter and score projector. But on this day, around the 5th or 6th hole, I turned the scorecard over so I could not see the scores. I knew what I had at every moment, but it was a visual reinforcer as I drove the cart that I was not focusing of the card but on the hole. And I knew that the 42 on the front made this a good day no matter what I did. I was gonna shoot around 90 at the worst and it was a beautiful day. I always think that when I am on the course. I stand and close my eyes and breathe in the air and then look around a few times each round. And today I took my medicine when it was necessary, including on 13. I knocked out laterally and hit a good iron to the green. Then it happened. I finally hit a putt, this one a dozen or so feet breaking right to left. It slowed to the hole and turned in sweetly. Finally I made a rescue putt. That was the first of six straight par to finish four over. And since it is a par 35 back nine that four over meant 39 on the back. 42/39 equals 81. This is a tie for my best ever. I shot an 82 and an 83 earlier this year, but this round was special in many more ways. 11 par. Two genuine birdie putts missed, on 4 and 6 and another birdie attempt, this one on 15, that lipped out. That one was from 15 feet or so, so it doesn't really count as a missed opportunity but on that hole I was so far right that I had to hit over a hedge to the right of the tee box on the next hole. I opened the face and smashed the wedge straight up and 95 yards on the green. So that was a sweet par to keep it rolling even if I missed the bird. Bird was the word today but I did not in fact have any birdies on my way to that magic 81. the best round of my life so far.
And that damn gimmee on 12 will be the last one I take. Ball in hole from here on out EVERY time fellas. Every time.
See you on the links.
Back to comic art shortly, including the end of the Teddy K tale with a guest appearance by Nick Pitarra. Nick plays the role of spoiler, turning the tables in the end with a Shamalanian twist of redemption that makes your rarely humbled author come out feeling good after being a bit of a dick. I was the dick, not Nick. He was ...well, certainly not a dick but I guess that can all wait. And also coming soon enough is my tale of acquiring and loving the first professional Dr. Strange image drawn by a legendary comic artist. Really. You'll be impressed. He's known for his great body of work and some Doc in particular.
And The Fifty of course. The Fifty is what is generating my blog love lately, so it will be here to stay for a few months I think. Only time will tell I guess.