Was a last-minute add as a sponsor-payer in a golf tournament. Free golf, free food...what's not to love?
Well...the format, for one thing.
I do not like best ball golfing. I like to play my own shots. I do not like some of the choices made by teams and do not like having other people rely on me.
When I am playing my own ball beginning to end, it does not adversely affect anyone else if I chunk a shot, but if everyone else has already hit and we need a good shot...even though we are equally responsible, because I have the last opportunity, I feel like I let them down if I do not perform well.
And that is not fair because I am what I am...a mid-to-high handicap golfer who is wildly inconsistent.
And I also like to measure myself by seeing how I score against the course.
But...free golf with people I like.
Unfortunately, the two other guys from my company massively built up my skills to the 4th member of our group (and his to me). So I felt pressure to play not my game but better than my game.
Sure enough, first hole I over swung, slice madly and hit a very poor shot. And our group makes a poor decision...
See, each person had to play 2 drives at some point in the round. But instead of being patient, we decided to take a vastly inferior drive to "get it out of the way" for one of our shorter hitters. And we ended up bogeying the hole.
Next hole was a par 3 and I hit short and right. We had an easy chip, but to get another "weaker drive" out of the way...we chose a much tougher shot. Bogey.
At this point, I was feeling pretty low. I was not playing my game. If playing for myself, I would have twice done a bump and run with my 8-iron. But the "correct" club was a gap wedge the first time and a sand wedge the second. I tried those instead.
It is not a shot I normally attempt and it showed. Both were horrible shots.
So having been built up to the sky, I am playing miserably. So I decided to stop playing the "correct" club and start playing my game. I also knew both the myth of my skill and Mr. T's were busted, so the pressure was off. It was going to be a typical 4-over par day.
The next hole was the long drive hole. I finally relaxed...and promptly cranked out a stunning, slightly better than 300 yard drive dead center fairway. At that moment, with 5 groups having gone through before us, it was the longest fairway drive by about 50 yards.
So for the first time ever at one of these scramble tournaments, I got my name on one of the contests.
I then blasted my 7 wood onto the fringe of the green and rolled a 45ish foot putt to about 4 feet from the cup. We birdied the hole.
And went on to birdie the next 6 holes after that as Mr. T and I took turns blasting massive drives and having all four of us take turns contributing some fantastic chips and long putts.
Somewhere along the line was a KP hole and I scored that, too.*
I felt good. Mr. T is one of the longest hitters on the course, and I was within yards of him...sometimes a bit behind, sometimes a bit ahead, and always a bit to the right.
We stopped at the turn to refresh....and my game melted down.
I lost all my rhythm. Instead of a fade, now I had a slice. Instead of nice, controlled chips I was hitting worm burners, sky balls, slices...it was ugly.
Finally I unleashed a massive drive that I played for my slice...and it went straight as an arrow. Bad shot...and I was on the verge of being frustrated because when my game deserted, we went from birdie after birdie to pars and bogeys. The other guys were playing as well as they had started...so the stroke per hole was directly attributable to me not carrying my weight.
Included in there was a Par 5 that we bogeyed.
So we had a long, maybe 225 yard shot to the green. First two guys hit miserably. I stepped up...super tense, not feeling it. Started to step away and suddenly it felt right again. They said, "Just walk around for a second," I replied, "No, I got this" and planted a gorgeous shot that trickled to about 8' from the cup. Boom, back on track.
Now my par 3s were on the green, my drives were back to fading instead of slicing, my irons were going where I intended and we were back to pars and birdies.
On our next to last hole, it was an "elimination hole". Whoever had already hit a shot could not hit another one had until we used one shot from each player.
Mr. T had gone deadly with irons, so we agreed to shoot for his preferred ranges and not use his drive.
Sure enough, first two guys uncork their shortest drives of the day which meant my short-but-accurate 7 Wood went back in the bag and out came my long-but-streaky driver.
Feeling pressure, I over-swung and took a good 50 yards off because of it. Still dead center fairway...but leaving a 195 yard second shot.
Mr. T then crushed one 80 yards past mine. His best drive of the day...and he had some monsters.
So...do we take 3 shots at it from our second best iron players from 115 feet...or one shot from 195?
We went the 3. No problem, a soft 9 iron would allow me to put some touch on it...or hack wildly and fly 20 yards right of the green.
Only to watch Mr. Consistency, aka New Grandpa go even further right putting our weakest pressure player on the spot...and he came through with a shot that left us 40 feet from the cup but putting.
Now only Gramps and I had shots left.
I putted first to give him the line. Too hard.
He then got about 8' from the cup.
Now the very situation I feared had risen. I do not putt for the cup...I lag putt, trying to ensure I never do worse than a 2-putt.
All day long, I had very seldom actually tried to sink putts but instead just tried to give the line to the better putters. Fortunately, I had sunk a couple including about a 25 footer that ranks in the top 5 putts I have ever made. But I had shanked every putt in the 6-8' range. Not even close.
And now the score for the hole came down to me and 1 putt with the fate of our team riding on it. We knew we were at or near the top of the leader board...a missed putt could cost us the tournament.
I hate that situation.
I mean, I love it if say...I am golfing with Kyla and Al and it determines which of us wins.
I hate it if 3 people are depending on me to score for them.
But somehow, someway, against the advice of a better putter, I picked my own line...and rolled it in for par.
Final hole; My drive was gorgeous, Mr. T's slightly better. My chip was good, but Gramps was better. We were on in 3 but a long, long way from the cup. I putted to show them the line...and the ball stopped one rotation from going in.
Then everyone else fell about 3 - 6' short of the hole, meaning we closed with a par.
Turns out we were in a 3 way tie for 1st at 7 under.
You read that right...a group I played with finished 7 under par.
So the tie-breaker was Par 5 scores...and that stretch where I was playing poorly and we bogeyed dropped us all the way to third.
My long drive was beaten out by less than a yard.
* And the KP? turns out there was a MENS KP...and a Womens. Care to guess which one I would have been KP on? (Hint: NOT the correct one). Good thing that wasn't embarrassing.
Overall, it was probably the most fun I have had playing best ball format. Great group of guys, a couple of us playing over our heads.
I actually felt like I could compete with one of the better golfers I have ever played with.
And I enjoyed every hole....even when I was scuffling.