Why can't golf be like this all the time?
Played my first game on the Sunshine Coast as a resident yesterday. It was a relief to see the temperature drop below 30, as high 30’s up here feel like 50! At one point on Saturday I was contemplating if the move was a good one but the locals assure me the temperatures have been really high and they’re confident normality will be restored soon.
I was invited to a game at Caloundra Golf Club with my Real Estate agent, Trevor, and a client of his Angelo. This was my first look at the course, but I had heard good things about it due to a chance encounter with a member at a restaurant the week before. I was expecting a relatively short, but tight, course with excellent greens.
Trevor, like many in real estate, has the gift of the gab. He was talking things up and ribbing me into having a punt. The cheeky bastard wanted 30 strokes and I politely informed him that I’m not a gambling man – but if he was really serious we should play for $100 per hole. Not sure if he realised I was joking, but he did go quiet long enough for us to hit our openers.
I parred the first two holes (nothing spectacular) and then hit the par 4 third hole in regulation. It’s a tough hole, index 1, with water down the left side and trees approaching on the right. My drive finished in the right rough (I wasn’t going near the water, Trev and Angelo both got wet) but got lucky with a lie and hit a good shot under a limb and over a distant tree.
Trevor was just getting started and said, “C’mon Strachan, bout time you made a birdie!”. My putt was around 25 feet – I struck it well and half way out I said, “Got it!”. It looked for all money it was going in but at the last instance drifted past the front of the hole and sat on the inside lip. Another par. I was enjoying the course, the weather and the company and wasn’t bothered in the slightest – score was the last thing on my mind.
The 4th is a long par five – I let rip with a belter and asked Trevor to, “chase that one Big Guy”. My approach was just short and I hit the little wedge to a gimme length. I was pleased with the shot and the birdie and Trev chimed in with, “why couldn’t you chip it in?”.
The 5th is another par 5, this time uphill and into the slight breeze. My 2nd was slightly off, pulled to the right and short of the green. By now Trevor was firing on all cylinders, he was was standing next to my ball and giving me lip, “are you going to chip this one in?” and “why don’t you make eagle?”.
I chose the pitching wedge, placed the ball back in my stance and hit a low running shot. The ball landed on the fringe, bounced onto the green and ran towards the hole. To my utter disbelief the ball curved right at the end and found the hole. Eagle! Trevor was speechless for the second time – but he did give me a high-five.
I parred the sixth hole and followed that up with a perfect drive down 7. My approach was pulled a little to the right and Trevor couldn’t help himself, “that’s not your best shot, is it?”. I love this kind of banter and got back at him by sinking the long putt.
“Jesus! You don’t play like this all the time do you?”, asked Trevor.
I was laughing and told him that I was disappointed I’d missed the putt on the 3rd.
The 8th hole went over a hill and down to the left. My drive finished slightly to the right but had stopped behind a little bush. To complicate matters, the pin was tucked on the front left corner of the green – from my vantage point, it almost looked like the pin wasn’t on the green. My only shot (to get the ball close) was to hit a low hook, hit the upslope and then bounce onto the green. As if like magic, the shot came off perfectly – the ball landed on the tiny upslope, bounced and spun to a few feet. I couldn’t believe it and was almost apologetic as I sunk the putt to go to five under. I was having one of those days.
I parred the 9th – actually had a putt for a 29 but left it short. At this point I was aware of the fact I was starting to think about the score. This is a dangerous mindset – just thinking about it is a sign that you’re out of the “zone”. I reminded myself to “swing the sticks” and “keep playing”.
The 10th is a short par 5 but has a creek winding through the fairway. I wasn’t sure I could carry the hazard and chose the 3 wood. Trevor was back to his old tricks, “C’mon Cameron, you can fly the water!”. “Don’t be a wuss, go for it!”.
I reached for the driver but then snapped to my senses. There was no way I could carry the 280+ metres and grabbed the three-wood. I made an awful swing (I’m going to blame Trevor for that one) that was skied out to the left. It was a little disappointing to make such a bad shot – couldn’t help but think I’d disrupted the flow of a good round.
For not the first time I got lucky. The ball finished between two trees and I was able to curve the second up near the green. The 3rd was a little shy of the pin but I sank the 20 footer for another birdie with a perfectly clear mind.
When I parred the 11th (only just missed a birdie) and then birdied the 12th I was 7 under for the day. My mind was starting to go into overdrive and I had thoughts of shooting 59. It’s hard to stop Pesky and I did my best to go with the flow.
I scrambled a birdie on the 14th (the last of the par 5’s) to get to 8 under. I certainly dropped off a little but was still doing my best to keep swinging freely and playing automatically.
I came up short of the par 3 15th green. I honestly thought I hit a horrible chip shot – certain I had pulled it right and way too hard – but watched in astonishment as the ball checked hard and swung violently to the left as it neared the hole. For a brief second it looked like the ball was going to go in – it didn’t, finishing right behind the hole. Trevor was shaking his head, believing I had some special power – I did my best to explain that shot was, “more arse than class”.
The round finished off with three pars. I had some good chances for more birdies but couldn’t get them. I was thrilled to shoot 8 under (63). I think this is my lowest score and was a great way to start my new life on the Sunshine Coast. The beer also tasted really good.
My big take away lesson from the day is how important it is to focus on playing the game. Thoughts of score, technique, expectations and future really have no place for the automatic golfer. It’s easier said than done, but when achieved, magic really can happen. Yesterday’s round is once again validation of the automatic/natural golf process.
Trevor has organised a game for next week, this time bringing his business partner along. I hope I haven’t set the bar too high and Trevor expecting a repeat performance. If nothing else, I’m sure the banter will be better than ever.
One last thing: Trevor shot 103. I should have taken him up on his offer. Would have been some easy money 🙂