Sergio Garcia is why I love golf. Sergio Garcia is why I hate golf.
Here’s a guy who won the Masters golf tournament last year. A sentimental favorite who had never won one of golf’s four “major” events despite years of promise, seemingly on the downside of his career. Then he emerges from obscurity to win the first major tourney of the year.
At Thursday’s opening round of the Masters, the defending champion approaches the 15th green playing a respectable 2 over par. His second shot carries the water hazard to the green, straight at the flag, then spins backwards down the bank and into the pond.
He takes a drop and a one-stroke penalty and swings his club again. Same result. Rinse and repeat three more times. Five balls into the drink “reminiscent of the cringe-worthy scene in the Kevin Costner movie Tin Cup” (as a wire service story reports) to post a 13 on a par-5 hole — the worst score on any hole at the Masters.
The master of disaster
Been there and done that — not at Augusta National but Odana Hills G.C., Madison WI in WI Dept of Revenue league play. Only it was the par-4 fourteenth hole, messing up a decent round after I had parred the previous two holes.
That is what I like about golf. Even the best golfers in the world can, occasionally, screw up. Its why Phil Mickelson is a favorite. The master of disaster. Think he once hit a ball into a garbage can at a U.S. Open, where he has managed to finish a frustrating second place a total of six times. After he blew the 2006 Open, Phil uttered one of the great quotes in sports: “I’m such an idiot.”
Nothing wrong with my golf game except my swing off the tee. If I figure that out, my ball striking on the fairway goes haywire. Or I’ll chip the ball clear over the green and onto the next tee box. Putting is fair but not good. Shameless, I ask for gimmes three feet out.
I did take lessons a few years ago ($700) and played the best ever but these days seem to be free-falling back into bad habits. Ready to try electro-shock to avoid lifting up my head before I’ve swing through the ball. Still don’t spend enough time over the ball. Over-swing instead of just trying to meet the ball. My problem is between the ears.
Head still, feet apart, body perpendicular from target, elbows in, mind right.
Mickelson says “visualize.” Confidence does seem to produce success and I would be more confident if I were more successful.
Between the ears
The pond at Odana’s par-3 fourth hole is burrowed so deep into my psyche I can no longer lay up to the right. At the tee, six iron in hand, I stand with back to the hole, facing my foursome. Nothing works. Either I fluff the ball a few yards or it defies the laws of physics to drop left, in front of the pond, or directly into the drink. GRRRR!
It’s gotten so bad at the 14th at cousin John’s course, The Oaks, between Sun Prairie and Cottage Grove, that I dig into the bag for the worst ball I can find; one you can afford to lose. Someday I’ll be able to walk, high and dry, on errant golf balls across that marshland protecting the green.
Even so, I’ve learned to tame my once-explosive temper. (Jerry Derr can tell you about the club thrown into the water, back in the day.) My instructor at GolfTec would ask, What is the most important shot in golf? The next one, is the answer. So you had a bad shot. Want to make it worse or do you have the stuff to recover? There’s a life lesson in there somewhere, if I could find it.
One of the better golfers in the League has been taking lessons for, I would guess, the last 10 years. Hellz bellz, Tiger Woods has a different coach for every part of his game, just about.
The Revenue Golf League is full of green eye shades with laptops in their bags running Excel spreadsheets. Of 50 golfers, I think I ranked 49th last season. Which is why I put myself on substitute status this season. Too much frustration.
If they’re short a player I’ll fill in. Operators are standing by.
The League calculates rolling handicaps, which means even this disaster with a club can win points for the team.
Nice walk, ruined
Walking nine holes once a week is needed exercise. (With my handicap, plenty of upper body motion, as well.) Last season we saw red foxes, turkeys pecking at their reflection on the Coke machine, sandhill cranes, and an eagle (of the feathered variety) on a low branch. Couple years earlier, minks along the stony banks of the water hazard on 13.
There is also the camaraderie of your golf partners and the B.S-ing over beer on the 19th hole.
Every once in awhile this cursed wretch will strike the most beautiful ball and that, as they say, is what keeps you coming back. (Now, how did I do that?)
Blaska’s Bottom Line: I know I can do it. If I do play windmill on the 15th, I’ll just have to channel my inner Sergio and say, that’s golf.