Earnest Words

I’m Not 25 Anymore Or: Arrowood on 12/10

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On December 10, Qualcomm gave us all a day off. It was much needed from me: I’ve been working a lot supporting various large-scale events and the day off was very welcome.

Tyrone and I met up to play golf, this time by my house at Arrowood, site of my disgrace 6 weeks before. Fortunately, the round I played on 11/22 had really encouraged me both to take things easy and also to feel confident in myself. I’d also been able to practice 19 times in the intervening 18 days. So that felt really good.

It was an early morning tee time and I was able to get to the range ahead of time, putt a bit, and even hit from the sand. Considering last time I played and hit the sand a lot, this felt wise. After all, I’d had no problems putting from off the green last time I played. The issue was really keeping the ball in play.

My goals for the round were incredibly simplified from the last time.

  • Have fun. Remember this is your leisure time so you’re already doing well.
  • Get it on the green in as few shots as possible.
  • Have a chance at par and convert that chance.
  • Pick a landing spot on each shot and aim at that.
  • Make all putts from within 1.5 yards
  • Bogey on 13, 16, 17.
  • Shoot 107 or better

Note, please the lack of things like birdies or “don’t miss any putts.” We’re trying to be positive here. Honestly, I was going to be happy to just be close to 107, too.

The second good thing (what was the first thing?) was Tyrone, who is a pleasure to play with and a pleasure of a person. He also trekked up from San Diego to play Arrowood. As he said when he arrived, “I thought I’d be here pretty quick when I got off the freeway.” No sir, you will not.

We got paired up with a single player, who was really friendly. His name was Parkier and he was a joy to play with.

So things were already looking really up.

Onto hole 1.

I decided that, since my driver was NOT working very well on the range, I was going to be hitting an iron on this tee.

I was terrified of the lateral hazard on the left side, so I aimed very well right, like off the fairway, and hit a 7 iron.

I overswung and shanked the ball into the hazard.

Despite the request of my compatriots to count it as a breakfast ball, my integrity demanded I refuse. So I hit a 7 iron beautifully to the fairway for shot 3.

(Oh, I should mention that I took my 6 iron from my bag. I was rocking driver, 3 wood, and 7 iron on down).

Shot 4 was another 7 iron that, bizarrely, drew. Since I was expecting a block/fade as a miss, this meant that I was in the fairway, but on the opposite side of the fairway than I expected. This was not too bad, but unexpected.

Nicely, both shots had gone about 150 yards each, leaving me with 40 to the pin or so.

I had practiced the 40y SW shot and ended up pitching it onto the green, a little bit long to the center of the green. That left me 7.5 yards downhill to the pin. I missed well, putting to 1 yard and then making the 1 yarder.

That felt good. It woulda been a bogey without that pesky shank.

Hole 2

Hole 2 is a long, downhill Par 5. I think I have kept the ball in bounds … 1 time. For whatever reason, I always hit driver or 3 wood and always regret it.

This time was no different. I hit my driver off the tee and somehow overswung and hooked it right, along the cart path, into the lateral hazard left. On top of a 6-foot tall retaining wall.

My thought process had been that I generally hit the ball pretty straight and I wasn’t going to overswing. It was downhill so even a top would end up in the fairway and roll out.

Back to the retaining wall: I found about 7 nice balls looking for mine, but mine was nowhere to be found. So I tossed a ball into the fairway, gamely refused Tyrone’s offer of help climbing down and jumped. Onto the cart path. Wearing golf shoes with plastic spikes.

I had my club and my sunglasses in my hand. I broke my fall with my sunglasses, felt my ankle slip and crunch, and then hobbled off the path.

My hand was bleeding from about a half inch scrape where I’d removed all the skin. My glasses were completely broken. And I had rolled my right ankle.

I could walk on it and, limping, I gamely hit my 7 iron from the rough about 157 yards to 157 yards from the hole. My drop, by the way, was 138 yards from the tee box. So that’s a fun feeling: hitting a ball longer with an iron than you did with your driver. Why do I hit that club?

Limping up to my ball, I hit an 8 iron that drew. And considering I was aiming at the left side of the green, I ended up in the rough about 32 yards pin high left.

The shot was over a bunker but a pretty easy LW chip onto the green. A 7 yard putt just stopped a couple rolls from the hole and I was in for a 7, a net par. Although I felt like an idiot: injured my leg, broke my sunglasses, cut my hand.

Next time, I’ll get help. Or just climb down the wall.

Hole 3

Short par 3 that played pretty long on Friday. It was about 140, which is 8 iron distance, especially off the tee.

Really favoring my left leg, I chunked it about 110 yards. I was in the fairway, about 30 yards from the pin. I hobbled up to the ball and pitched it onto the green.

Then I had a terrible putt on the green. I had about 7 yards and putted it very far past on a downhill putt. That left me 1.5 yards out, which I promptly missed and then made for a double bogey. Really great start here.

Hole 4 I hit a 7 iron off the tee directly into the grass bunker through the first cut of fairway. Both my playing partners hit the bunker that collects balls sliding out of the fairway to the right. Here they are looking for their balls.

Tyrone and Parkier search for their balls in the bunker.

Then I hit my 8 iron from the grass bunker and crushed a draw. The ball hit the cart path and bounced to end up pin high, left of the hole, some 40 yards away and up a huge hill. I had hit the 8 iron 157 yards because of the bounces.

But the green was downhill from where I was, heading toward a bunker. It was not a good lie: sidehill, downhill, in the rough.

I was exceptionally scared of the ball running away from me so I failed at goal number 2: get it on the green.

I chipped it about halfway and then chipped it just barely on, leaving me 11 yards to the pin. I made the 11 yard put to about a yard, and then tapped in the 1 yarder for a double bogey. 

I was certainly thinking PAR when I nearly reached the green in regulation. That is not a useful thought to have.

Hole 5

Hole 5 has a huge bunker along the left side that I was going to try to be short of with my tee shot. So I hit 8 iron off the tee and hit a very big fade to the right side of the fairway.

So not exactly where I was expecting to end up but in the fairway. I then I aimed my 7 iron at the left side of the green and hit a frozen rope into the rough left of the green, exactly where I was aiming.

That left me 32 yards out, over the bunker to the green. I chose the path of least resistance and went a little long, over the green and into the rough. Now i’ve learned for next time: short and left is the wrong place to miss.

I was certainly thinking PAR with that 3rd shot.

My ball ran out long into the fringe and into the rough. The rough was really grabbing everything, so I hit a chip shot 9 iron out of the rough. It ended up 1 yard from the hole for an easy bogey.

Hole 6 is the easiest hole on the course, a short par 4 with a water feature left. I aimed at the bunker right and faded a 7 iron over it, where it ran down the back of the hill behind the bunker to the fairway fringe.

I was about 85 yards from the pin, which is an uncomfortable distance for me. I decided to hit sand wedge, since a full wedge is about 80 to 90 yards for me.

Unfortunately, I chunked it. I was 100% thinking birdie on this hole and it cost me. A better play would have been a very easy PW shot to the middle of the green instead of pin seeking.

As it was, and likely because I wasn’t putting much weight on my right ankle, I chunked it, about 45 yards.

Then I missed the second shot short, just on the fringe. It was uphill to the green and it was about 15 yards, which is about a 5 yard bump and run with the pitching wedge. I do practice that shot, so it seemed better than putting.
It was better than putting. The ball stopped a few feet from the hole, and made for an easy bogey.

Hole 7 is a mid-length par 4 that seems to eat my lunch. It’s handicap 16, but I tend to average a triple bogey.

It’s all to do with the scrub cutout right of the tee box, which has a magnet for my ball. But mentally, I fixated on the left side of the fairway and dropped my 7 iron there.

That left me about 140 out which is 7 iron distance. Unfortunately, I faded this 7 iron right into a sand trap around the green. If I had aimed at the left side of the green instead of the center!

But I had an excellent sand shot out and I had just 1.5 yards to the pin. Unfortunately, thinking par, I blasted that 1.5 yard putt past the hole completely, leaving me 2 yards out. But having missed the par putt, I had an excellent, easy, 2 yard bogey putt that I made. I mean, I had already gotten the read when I blew past. But I was also thinking, “well, double bogey is okay.”

Hole 8 was a medium-length par 3. The pin was right and front, which was well within my 8 iron range – except that I chunked the ball into the hazard right. My second shot was on the green, which I finished up for a nice, easy par. Well, except that I had chunked the ball into the hazard.

Hole 9 is a long, uphill par 5. I seem to always screw this one up, too. Last time, I had the ball on a laser guide to the lateral hazard. This time, I hit a great 7 iron into the fairway, a great 7 iron up the fairway, and then a thin, stinger up through the fairway into the rough protecting the green.

I had about a 50 yard shot, so I hit my sand wedge a nice easy pitch. The ball was 2 yards from the pin, inside of both Tyrone and Parkier. They both missed their putts. I didn’t.

Par, baby!

That concluded my best ever front 9. I shot a 50, and it could have been a lot lower. Assuming all my mishits were due to my injury distracting me, I certainly could have had 1 shot fewer on 3 (better putting), 4 (better chipping), 6 (better approach), 7 (better putting). And i could have done 4 shots better if I just took mulligans on 1 and 8. So I could see a 42 is what I’m saying.

Tee shots were okay, with 7 of 11 being good. I had 14 approach shots on 9 chances and only 6 chips, which is all the more impressive because I had 2 double chips.

Putting was also okay: 1 3-putt balanced out by 2 1-putts.

Goal number 1 next time is to not hurt myself while playing. Goal 2 is to replicate this performance, to which I will employ my 6 iron and keep the driver in the bag.

Now begins the back 9, on which I’m some how supposed to shoot a 49 in order to break 100.

I started with the best drive I’ve ever hit. I thought: “let’s hit driver, since it’s wide open and even if I top it, it’ll be into the fairway.” 

I crushed the drive. I’m not sure which tee box I hit from, but I hit it nearly 280 yards; the ball was right at the edge of the fairway.

I then hit a very short, 35 yard pitch shot with my sand wedge, which turned my birdie chance from high to very low, since I was on the green in regulation but … 15 yards from the hole.

But I wanted to lag it close and I lagged it just a yard or so from the hole. Easy make for a par. That’s a two par streak!

The next hole was a shorter par 3, uphill but with the pin front right. I hit an 8 iron at the middle of green only for it to fade right and off the green.

I had about 15 yards to go, uphill, over some rough. So I chipped my pitching wedge to 6 inches from the hole – another up and down par.

That’s 3 pars in a row.

Hole 12 is a hard hole. I average an 8.

So this time, I hit a 7 iron well to the middle of the fairway. I then choked up my pitching wedge and chunked it to about 146 out from the green.

I tried to learn from my mistakes and lined up on the left side of the green – and then hit a perfect 7 iron, right into the rough, right where I was aiming.

That left me 50 yards away from the green, pin high, on a severe downhill lie. For whatever reason, I was really concerned with landing my ball right next to the pin instead of aiming to the middle of the green.

I missed it halfway down the hill and then chipped it on. I had a 7 yard putt that I missed really poorly to 1.5 yards. Then I missed the 1.5 yard putt and finally made it … for an 8. Blargh.

Hole 13 is a par 5 that I’ve historically done poorly on. I hit driver off the tee because the tee box was RIGHT there next to the fairway

I topped the driver, into the fairway. Then I topped my 3 wood, also in the fairway. Total, my two tops went about 291 yards total, which isn’t too bad. I mean, it’s not good, either.

I then thought it would be a good idea to lay up since I had about 190 yards and didn’t have a club that could get me there.

So I hit my pitching wedge, chunked it 90 yards, thinking par the whole time.

So I reset after thinking par, and thought “double bogey is great”. Then I hit my full pitching wedge, from 100 yards out. And I hit that full pitching wedge 113 yards, which was over the back pin position into the rough.

I had 14 yards, tried to chip it with my sand wedge, and made it 7 yards. Then I made another 7 yard chip leaving me a not good 4 yards from the pin.

Missed the 4 yard putt, made the second putt, and recorded another 8.

That was depressing.

Hole 14 was a hole similar to Hole 13, but it’s downhill where hole 13 is uphill. But the tee box was RIGHT THERE on the fairway, again, so I hit driver.

Driver went about 210 with a slight draw, leaving me 120 yards from a front pin.

That’s about 9 iron distance, so I swung with the 9 iron and hit a thin fade.

Again, 9 iron was a bad choice, since it put me right on the fringe. An 8 iron would have been better. Middle of the green and all that.

As it was, my ball was just 10 yards from the pin, but going uphill over some rough. It was a sidehill lie and my ball was certainly embedded. I certainly should have availed myself of that rule. As it was, the lie cost me a stroke, since I was just able to move the ball a few yards, further up in the rough.

I hit lob wedge on, to 3 yards out – and then I missed that putt to make a 1 yard putt. I had the idea of “I am trying to make it” and paid the price. A 6.

Onto the Quandary, the hard finishing 4. I didn’t realize it, but despite my back to back 8s, I was on an unknown trajectory: I had 79 strokes through hole 14. This was despite two 8s on the back 9.

Hole 15 is the easiest of the finishing 4 holes: a par 3 that’s well bunkered but not too long. Today was the longest it’s ever been when I’ve played it about 150 yards. So that was a 7 iron, which I blasted through the green to 15 yards away from the hole.

The problem is that it’s a two tier green and I was on the upper tier – well, really I was on the fringe.

So it was a long putt that I had no chance of making. I also really didn’t want to try a chip because of the potential for it to run away from me.

So I putted from the fringe, down the hill, to about 5 yards long – which was pretty good. I putted it to within a yard and then made it for a bogey. So now it’s 83 through 15. I really wish I had known that.

Now starts hole 16, where the best I’ve ever done is a 6. The island green tends to collect lots of balls … in the drink around it.

I hit driver off the tee and that was stupid: this is a hole that demands care. And considering I had matched a record pace, I should have been more conservative.

I blocked my driver out right, where it might be in play, and hit a provisional driver that got over the hazard guarding the fairway. It was clearly in play, but I managed to find my driver shot in a bush on the edge of the hazard.

I had no shot and should have dropped. Instead, I chunked my punch shot about 15 yards, at least into the rough. Honestly, I probably could have done better with my putter onto the cart path.

I then lined up an easy, choked up pitching wedge to stay short of the water – and I chunked that one too. At this point, I was feeling pretty defeated: I expected the water to eat a ball, and my leg was hurting.

I was about 150 yards from the pin, so I hit my 7 iron, figuring I would likely cover the water, even with a fat shot. It was a draw, but it carried the distance and ran off the green into the rough.

I mean, it would have been worse to miss into the water but it was a tough miss. I had a long distance to go, downhill, to get to the pin. So I chipped it with my 9 iron which was a little bit too much club. The ball ran off the green.

This one hurt: I was on the fringe, so I putted it. Somehow, the green was exceptionally quick, even though i was putting uphill, and I putted the ball 4 yards too long – with the ball running over the hole. Ugh.

Instead of a heroic 6, it was an 8, because it took me two more putts to get in the hole from there. Still, a 91 through 16. That means a par and a bogey for a 100 or two double bogeys for a new course record 103.

Now starts hole 17, which has lately been my meltdown hole. This time, I hit a 7 iron off the tee and INTO the fairway. Then I hit another 7 iron down the fairway, leaving me 65 yards from the hole.

Tyrone’s Second Shot

And wouldn’t you know it, I overswung and chunked my lob wedge from a good lie in the fairway to a bad lie in the rough. It was very uphill, I was in pain, and I hit an easy, bad lob wedge to about 3 quarter of the way closer.

Finally, I chopped (pls note spelling) on with my sand wedge, leaving 5 yards. I putted it real close, and then tapped in for a 7.

We had an audience for hole 18 and the hole was set at the silver tees. So I hit driver, and topped it 40 yards into the rough. Then I hit another provisional ball off the tee into the driving range.

Falling apart, I strolled forward and hit my driver at the ball in the rough, which went all of 40 yards, still not in the fairway.

I came to my senses, hit a 7 iron and left myself about 150 yards from the pin. Unfortunately, I chunked this one into the water hazard. I dropped and chunked another into the water hazard. Then I finally hit over the hazard, onto the rough, 30 yards from the pin, behind a bunker.

I had tears in my eyes as I approached this shot. My leg was really hurting, I had completely fallen apart.

It was just an lokay lob wedge shot to get it onto the green, since it left me 25 feet from the pin. (EDIT: it was great. I was on the green). But the putt looked pretty straight – and that’s how I made a 25-foot putt to save a 10. Hooray! I guess…

The pain in my ankle was much worse in the second 9. 

I shot a 58 which was all the more depressing since I had an 83 through hole 15. I could have done so much better. I’ll blame my failure on being hurt.

I had 7 decent tee shots and really only 1 that didn’t play (hole 18). I hit 5 fairways on 8 chances, and started with two pars. I had 18 approach shots, but fully 11 of them were on the last 3 holes. 12 chips, which included 3 straight double chips.

I had 17 putts, with 2 1-putts to offset a 3-putt. 

So it was a depressing 58 on the back 9. But I was hurt, so what else could I expect? Incidentally, after the round, I didn’t notice what I usually do after a full round: my right leg and butt are sore. Nope, that was not the way this time. My ankle was very sore.

But shooting 108, injured, is much better than shooting 120, uninjured.

Best shots were:

  1. 2nd tee shot on hole 1
  2. Approach shot on hole 1
  3. SW pitch on hole 1
  4. Putt 1 on hole 1
  5. Putt 2 on hole 1
  6. 7 iron approach on hole 2
  7. LW on hole 2
  8. 1st putt on hole 2
  9. 2nd putt on hole 2
  10. SW pitch on hole 3
  11. Lucky 8 iron on hole 4
  12. Putt 1 on hole 4
  13. 9 iron chip on hole 5
  14. PW chip on hole 6
  15. Hole 7 tee shot
  16. Hole 7 sand shot
  17. Hole 8 second tee shot
  18. Hole 8 putt 1
  19. Hole 8 putt 2
  20. Hole 9 tee shot
  21. Hole 9 second shot
  22. Hole 9 SW
  23. Hole 9 putt

That’s 23 good shots through 9 holes! That’s excellent!

  1. Driver on hole 10
  2. Approach on hole 10
  3. Putt on hole 10
  4. Chip on hole 11
  5. Tee shot on hole 12
  6. Third shot on hole 12
  7. Driver on hole 14
  8. 7 iron on hole 15
  9. Approach shot on hole 16
  10. Tee shot on hole 17
  11. Second shot on hole 17
  12. 1st putt on hole 17
  13. Third shot 7 iron on 18
  14. SW over the water on 18
  15. LW over the bunker on 18
  16. Putt on hole 18

And that’s grasping at straws on back 9.

Looking back on this, I am exceptionally proud. On a bum ankle, I shot really well. Before I hurt myself, I was +5 (triple bogey, LH shot OB). After hurting my ankle, I was +9 on 7 holes – and then playing bogey golf for 9 holes through hole 11.

I am significantly more encouraged by this than I was at the time, which was 100% because I had really hurt myself. I am all better now but, man, what coulda been…


One response to “I’m Not 25 Anymore Or: Arrowood on 12/10”

  1. […] I’m Not 25 Anymore Or: Arrowood on 12/10 […]

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