The Magic of Golf
Two years ago I decided to try and play a round of golf midweek. I did this for a couple of reasons;
- I wasn’t playing enough at my golf club and though the extra game would justify the large yearly fee.
- A game midweek would compliment my Saturday round and could only help my game improve
I would have to say that this midweek round has been great for my golf game. My handicap has been reduced to below scratch and I feel that I’m improving all of the time.
Better still, I have been able to meet a great bunch of guys that have been able to help me in other areas of my life, most notably business.
I play on Thursday mornings with the THUGS (Thursday Golfing Society). They are a motley crew. Most are close to sixty years of age (or more) who are retired or semi-retired. They all have diverse backgrounds in business but have been successful in their chosen pursuits.
Yesterday was the THUGS Christmas party. This consists of a bus ride to a different course and then a BBQ lunch nearby. The format of the day is Ambrose. This is a fantastic game where all team members hit a shot with the best stroke taken. The process is repeated until the ball finds the hole. Usually this style of play produces some very low scores.
The playing committee decided on making the six lowest handicappers Captain with the six highest handicappers placed in one team. The rest of the spots were filled on alphabetical order.
My team consisted of Frank (handicap 30), Brian (handicap 20), John (handicap 17), and me (handicap scratch).
As Captain I thought the best idea was to hit off in handicap descending order. This gave us a chance to ‘get a ball into play’ so I could then ‘have a go’. The other stipulation is that each team member must use a minimum of three drives for the round. A good idea that ensures all team members are a part of the action.
We started OK. We all missed a fairly short putt on our first hole (the 17th) but then Frank’s putter started to hot up. He made two good putts in a row on the 18th and 1st. Brian made a long putt on the 2nd for birdie, we negotiated the difficult 3rd with a par and when we birdied the 4th hole, the signature hole at Flinders, we had started with a string of threes.
Things only got better for Team Strachan. We reached the par 5 fifth in two shots and after watching Frank just miss, Brian made a huge putt for an eagle. We were off to a flier and having a great time. The beauty of this game is that everyone is forced to have an involvement so it has a real team feel to it…unlike the majority of the golf we play.
The next two holes are tough. They are long, uphill and play into the wind. My long drive gave us a distinct advantage. Although I did feel the pressure to get them into play. It was good to negotiate them in par. No damage done.
When we birdied the 8th (our 10th hole) we were looking good. Our only concern was that Frank and John had two drives to get away and Brian one. We took Frank’s tee shot on the short 9th hole. It was short of the green but he chipped it close and sunk the putt…not bad for a 30 handicapper!
We parred 10. Eleven is a short downhill par 4. We took Frank’s drive again. My ball went over a fence and lost! Frank then hit a great approach shot and John sunk a difficult putt after getting a great read from Frank. By this stage we had named Frank “The Cog”…he was a crucial member of the team, making many putts or showing us the way when he happened to miss.
Frank then hit the shot of the day on 12. It is a short downhill par three playing straight into the wind. He hit his driver, the ball cleared the front bunker and rolled up to a metre. An easy birdie.
We dodged a bullet on 13 and made par. We now had three holes remaining, our concern was the both John and Brian still had to get another drive away. The 14th is another par three, and lucky for us Brian was the only one to find the green. Putting last I sunk a long putt for birdie…a bonus!
The 15th is a long par five playing straight into the wind. I hit my best drive of the day and could reach the green in two. John had hit a good drive too. If we took mine then we would have to take John’s drive on our last hole no matter how bad it was. We took the conservative approach and settled on John’s shorter tee shot.
For me this was when the real fun started. Being such a long hole they required a good second from me. I needed to hit a 3 wood for us to be able to reach the green in three. I felt the pressure as I didn’t want to let them down. I managed to do my job and left us 110 metres from the green.
By now the wind was really strong. The older boys all hit bad third shots and didn’t find the green. It was up to me again! Once again I could feel the pressure mounting. As usual I try and play automatically. I let my subconscious take over and play naturally. I hit a good shot…it sailed high and slightly right of the pin. The strong wind pushed it back on line and it settled three metres from the pin. I was relieved…
Frank then marched up to the green and made the putt like it was a gimmie. We had made birdie when it looked like we would struggle. With the pressure off on the last hole (we all had our three drives away) we made another birdie. Frank was at it again…he hit a great bunker shot that nestled next to the pin. The putt was a formality.
Our team finished on 12 under (57 strokes) with a nett score of 48 ¾
I would have to say this was one of the most enjoyable golf games I’ve been part of. There would be few sports that would allow competitors with a large difference in skill level to compete together and all contribute to the result. I can’t think of another sport.
To me this is the real magic of the game. I’m glad that I decided on that midweek game. I got as much out of yesterday’s game as any individual score I’ve had in a while.
I now look forward to next year!