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Quest for amateur glory stifled by double-bogeys

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POSTED December 2, 2009 2:18 a.m.
“Cinderella story. Outta nowhere.

“A former English teacher, now, about to become the Masters champion.

“It looks like a mirac... It’s in the hole!”

Back to reality, that 3-foot putt was for double-bogey.

It has been well documented by word of mouth, in this space and especially in my cranial sand trap, that I am a poor golfer.

From the time I started recklessly swinging at little dimpled Callaway’s four years ago to now, there is little difference in my swing, approach or attitude to the game. It’s always been fun, I’m still competitive, but the results are not much better.

As a coach, I understand practice and fundamentals are a necessity, yet I haven’t hit more than ten buckets of range balls during my painful career.

I suppose the lazy part of my subconscious is creating an alibi keeping my standards low and thus, by not really working on improvement, I can’t be too disappointed.

My game is not like that word that is spelled so poorly spell-check can’t even recommend anything — at least I hope not — and I take 14 to 16 fewer shots per nine than my rookie season, improvement that came at the expense of a ton of balls, hundreds of dollars and at least a few club heads.

But the energy needed to properly confront my deficiencies in a pointed attempt to make more of my shots fairway friendly is usually spent fishing, hiking or attempting to help others feel better about their own golf games, by writing.

Exposition complete, which brings me to last week.

Whenever we park at Escalon’s course, my goal is the course record. Not the course record, but our course record is 5-over par for 9-holes — a good 10 fewer than the first time that course played us.

When I bogeyed the seventh hole and walked to the tee-box at 8, I was sitting 6-over par, and 10 shots ahead of the second place golfer of the day.

Only a deranged greens keeper detonating dozens of explosive varmints could keep me from winning, but I foolishly eyed the record.

I pulled out my driver for the 220 yard fairway. The previous holes I had launched a 7-iron to set up my 9-iron, then pitched (if necessary), then putted. Control, limit big mistakes, and keep score low.

I am not sure what made me think breaking that routine by reaching for the lumber would help. I was already having one of my better rounds. Actually I know exactly what it was that made me reach for the driver.

The previous day Nate and I took a walk at Manteca Golf Course. During one point on the back nine I hit 7 of 8 fairways, one was even the green strip that led to the pin I happened to be playing.

Naturally, that straight drive was on the last hole, tricking my brain into thinking I was on a roll even if that shot was 23 hours prior.

I figured that swing would be easily duplicated. I’d birdie the hole and break the record on the 9th.

Not smart I know, but if everyone made smart stress-free decisions, hardly anyone would play golf.

Just before I was set to unleash the fury, I doubted.

“I should just use the 7”

I should have listened to myself.

The ball left the club and assaulted an evergreen. I lost sight, but heard Nate laugh a bit. The four-some on seven looked at me as if I had just tossed a fake grenade their way as a joke.

They were uneasy. Didn’t find my drive very humorous, but I still didn’t know where it went.

“Nate, where is it?”

“Over in the trees on the other side.”

“On the other side of seven?”

“Yep, in the leaves.”

The ball careened off the tree trunk that flanked the 8th fairway, shot through the seventh fairway and nested under a eucalyptus, 45-degrees from straight.

So much for the course record.

I smacked a low 7-iron back to where my fellow Bushwood rejects were strolling. I two-putted for a double-bogey then tried to keep from doing anything really stupid on the ninth hole.

I doubled again.

Maybe I should keep my day job or practice.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail aklund21@gmail.com.
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