2016 has been a struggle for me on the golf course. Most of the spring I’ve been shooting some very high scores and trying to keep myself calm and “enjoy the walk.” Because I’ve been playing a lot of golf recently my game seems to be getting better, slightly. For the last few rounds my driving has gotten very long and accurate. The iron game is very good, putting solid. Short game improved from that of a 36 handicapper to maybe a 15. Yes, short game is my weak point and source of most of my frustration.
Coming into the 2016 City Am at Bonneville Golf Course I had just won a 27-hole tournament with my dad, and won a match a few days prior. I was feeling very confident in my driving and irons, and thought my short game was improved enough that it wouldn’t cost me too many shots.
This tournament, as I’ve said many times, is the one that I look forward most every year. I really value my performance and have thoughts of winning it, after placing 2nd a couple of years ago. I feel a lot of pressure, adrenaline, butterflies. It is difficult to get the ball airborne for the first tee shot. In fact, the first tee shot of the event I missed going out of bounds by about five feet. Since I don’t play a lot of tournaments I don’t have a lot of experience in dealing with that kind of pressure. That lack of experience doesn’t help. I find that nervous feeling very strange yet interesting. I feel like I’m strong mentally. I can’t believe I don’t have the mental strength to overcome having rubber arms that feel like they’re made out of lead. I’m sure more experience in the pressure of a real tournament would help me get used to it better.
So many factors and weird things happened this week. Temperatures jumped up big and the end of the 2nd round the temperature was 98 degrees. For the first time of the season my hands were sweating so much that I couldn’t keep them dry. Some of my grips, like on my driver, get slippery when wet. Try hitting a pressure shot when you can’t hold onto the club. So I wear a glove. I hate gloves. I only wear them when my hands are slipping. As a result, I think my accuracy suffered. My driving was not as good as normal, which put me into situations which brought bogey and double bogey into play. I’m talking about trees, bunkers, even snack bars. More on that later.
Shoe/Sock Scripting Malfunctions
I had some other problems too, in the shoe/sock department. I can laugh now but at the time I was not laughing. Read the next post for details on that. Needless to say, the pressure, sweaty hands, 95 degree temperatures, bad short game, wrong socks, blistered feet… all added up to my simply trying to eek into the prize money.
Highlight of the Tournament
This is surely the 2nd craziest par I’ve ever had. The first being one I made on the Road Hole in 2011.
I nutted an 8-iron on the 160 yard par-3 17th. It flew over the green and hit a downslope, rolling some 40-50 yards into a pile of sand in ground under repair near the snack shack. My nearest relief from the ground under repair left me an impossible situation. I was behind a wall of trees about 80 feet high, hitting up to an elevated green some 20 feet above my head. I could barely see the top of the flag and I could not go right at it. To top it off, my drop slowly moved from grass to a bare piece of dirt.
All I could do was try to punch a 7-iron into the hill and hope that it bounced onto the right half of the green, or off the front of the green. Then maybe I could chip and one-putt for a bogey. The situation had big numbers written all over it.
I chopped the 7-iron in a downward motion because of the dirt lie. The ball came off left of target and went right at one of the trees. It went right through a V in the tree, ticking some leaves. It then hit into the hill and bounced straight up into the air, right at the flag. I didn’t know they were watching, but the players behind me on the 4th tee saw it and clapped! I was left with about a 20 foot par-putt. I made the putt. It was probably the only putt over 15 feet I made all weekend.
I’m not sure how I managed that par. I think perhaps I had a little help. One of the trees behind 17 green has a plaque under it, with a dedication to an old friend named Jeff Dalebout. Jeff was a bouncer in the bar my rock band used to play at for many years. When his favorite X songs would come on, Jeff would jump up on stage and sing them with us. We became good buddies over the years. Along with being a bouncer, Jeff was one of the “night watermen” at Bonneville. For about the first 86 years the course existed, it had no automatic sprinklers. The night watermen would haul hoses all around the course and water it in the dark. Jeff and I played many rounds of hungover golf at Bonneville, after gig nights.
Jeff passed unexpectedly back around 2003 at a very young age. I tip my hat to him every time I walk by his plaque behind 17 green on the way to the 18th tee. I think he gave me a helping hand on Sunday. Thanks my old friend. You are missed.
Best Bud Caddies On Sunday
Speaking of old friends… My best buddy once told me the best things in life are “experiences.” If that’s true, Sunday’s round was one of the best things in life, and an experience I’ll never forget. My buddy Alan Nelson, who normally resides in Philly, was in town. He asked if he could caddie for me in the 2nd round. How cool is that?
Naturally I said yes as long as he understood the “three ups” in caddieing:
I loaded my golf bag full of bricks and let him have at it. A fine job of caddying he did. Old Course caddie John Boyne would be proud. Alan did an even finer job of doing what he has been best at for years, being a great friend. He knew when to talk to me and when to leave me alone to cool off (like after I bladed a wedge across the 16th green).
What a great experience. I should find out if I’m in the money when I get to the course tomorrow. Rest assured my caddie will get his customary 10% of the take. I hope he doesn’t spend the whole $1.75 in one place.
Great blog post. I enjoy Bonneville even though it has kicked me butt over the years. I might try the SLC Amateur next year, always wanted to play it, I have no expectations to finish in the money, I just hope to finish.