Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ghettogolf: farther down the handicap hole

I thought it was about time that I gave the range balls a rest and tried some actual golf again.

I'll be blunt here. Silver Lake--my de facto home course this year--has become old hat already. It has a lot going for it but lately it has started to feel small and cramped; when I get there it's not long before I start thinking about getting back home. So I thought I'd revisit Dyker Beach, my old haunt for so many years.

The new first tee and picnic area.
Much has changed since I was last here--they changed the sequencing of the front nine. It now begins on what used to be the third hole, and the former #1 and #2 holes are now #8 and #9. The intent here is to relieve some of the famous Dyker Beach bottlenecking, but the logic is a bit hazy, and believe me I've thought long and hard about it.

The former #1

The new #1.
Without getting bogged down in particulars, the old first hole was as wide open and easy a par 4 as you will ever see. The new first hole is one of the longer, tougher par 4's on the course with a blind, narrow and penal tee shot--very easy to hit into either tree line and lots of places to lose a ball. I'm having a hard time understanding how the latter situation will make any improvement to the bottleneck situation. But hey, maybe I'm just too ignorant to understand the science of golf course management.

This was one of people in my group. Don't let the poser b-boy getup, XXXL shirt, denim shants and skewed hat mislead you--this is not actually a local at-risk youth, but rather a doddering old man just past retirement age--a uniquely New York City kind of cretin I guess. I stopped short of naming him Creep of the Week but he still gets a mention for managing to irritate everyone. He was afflicted with a kind of diarrhea--not the literal kind but the kind that compels a person to release a steady stream of obvious and completely useless remarks, particularly about the results of everyone's shots.

"That's in the sand."

"There was no break."

"Missed the green."

It got old fast, but instead of getting mad I just joined in the stupidity and started color-commentating his shots.




But of course he was so out of it that none of this had any chance of registering and no comeuppance was really gotten unfortunately.

Later in the round, on the hardest hole on the course, homeboy did quite well to get to the green and set up a seven-footer for par. As a kind of behavioral experiment while he was setting up to putt I blurted out, "Hey, what do you say I give you that putt, you walk outta here with a par." At this point I was so annoyed with the round, and life; I had no shits left to give. I hoped he would take the stupid thing and make an ass of himself in front of everyone.

He looked up at me startled, with a face that was all giddy and juvenile and incredulous. I nodded in the affirmative; he snatched up the ball gleefully and scuttled off the green. The other two guys howled in protest, saying that next time they would have to approve before any putt is gimme'd. Couldn't tell if these two were serious but since they had made a huge stink earlier in the round about me tapping in a six-inch putt they were kind of dead to me.

You know, wantonly conceding a putt that wasn't even mine to concede was probably a mean, ill-intentioned move but hey, it really seemed to make the guy happy.

To his credit though homeboy managed his ball tidily and played quickly, which is probably what spared him from the full creep treatment. I may be a horribly judgmental and intolerant person but fast play is not lost on me.

The course is in pretty nice shape. Since my last visit the greenery has exploded.

There is a ball in there somewhere. This is a couple feet off the 17th green. It's also a downhill lie.
In particular the rough around the greens has been allowed to grow comically long and thick--around six to eight inches at its worst. Several balls were nearly lost forever after trickling a couple feet off the greens. I think the USGA needs to get involved here. On second thought, no. This is Dyker. A course renowned for its slow play and general managerial indifference. It is also reputedly the busiest course in North America and as such doesn't need to do jack squat to attract business. Basically what I am saying is that Dyker cannot be an efficient smooth-running golf course because as much as everyone would benefit, it just wouldn't fit. I realize this is quite the stupid, illogical reasoning but such is life in NYC.

My lack of enthusiasm about actual golf at this point is probably betraying the fact that I shot another abominable score, marred by trainwreck triple bogeys and worse. I have been yammering on about all these swing improvements I've made lately but on this day those so-called improvements simply vanished on me. It's a funny thing how even in a pointless round, as soon as you get over the ball there is pressure. Whatever you do to this ball, there will be real consequences and knowing this leads to all sorts of tension, hesitation, second-guessing, regression, paralysis by analysis. All day I was setting up too far from the ball. I knew what I was doing wrong the whole time but still felt powerless to do anything different. Truly pathetic. It did not help matters that my backswing had all the structural integrity and live tension of an overcooked noodle.

So another 90-plus score and the handicap continues its freefall. At this rate I might find myself in the 18+ flight in the upcoming tourney. I get that this is a first-world problem of the first-worldiest order, but it is still distressing on an existential level. It's like what the hell is happening to me? Is old age setting in? Is it the mind deteriorating, or is the body? I feel like a helpless bystander watching my handicap index get larger and larger with every round. Whatever. Let's try to see the humor in all of this.


  1. Dr. bkuehn1952, PhDGMay 25, 2014 at 5:32 AM

    You may be suffering from GSD, or Golf Seasonality Disorder. Typically the onset of GSD follows a particularly severe winter season (although some in the midwestern USA suffer GSD every year). A golfer is prematurely released on to the golf course without proper mental preparation. Memories of golf in more conducive conditions tend to dominate the cerebral cortex. These memories are violently shattered by the harsh realities of early season golf (mud, rain, lush untended grass, bumpy greens, d-bag golfers swarming the courses, etc...). The immediate signs of GSD are high scores and a sense that somehow over the winter one has completely lost all one's ability to strike the ball and score. These initial signs are often followed by depression, a need to purchase new equipment, a fear of actually playing on a golf course and the desire to mindlessly hit balls from a carpet.

    The cure is typically found by playing a solo round and playing 2 balls on every shoot (personal 2-ball scramble). The playing of 2 balls releases the tension and fear that has been built up inside the golfer. It is also a good way to gauge one's true potential.

    1. I had always thought of scrambles as a thing that co-workers do when they get together to play golf, not as a potential training device or way of evaluating raw skills. But quite the radical idea but I'll try it if I get the chance. I have more or less figured out how to not suck the club behind me so the time for banging balls is probably coming to an end. Figure out the rest on the course.

  2. Right now, your mental capacity to handle extreme conditions is collapsing. You're pissed before you play.

    This is how I see it. You go thru hell just to get to any course. When you get there it's crowded with idiots, douchebags, and hacks. Not much chance for fast, fluid play. Let alone fun. But you know all this going in.

    We know you got game. Single digits a year ago. Don't let these circumstances bring you down. Dr. bkuehn has his remedy, I got mine. SUCK IT UP!!


    1. Bullshit threshold has lowered for sure. Attitude has gone south too. BUT the good news is that a desire to play decent golf still burns, furiously. As a matter of fact I am sweating sitting here thinking about it. Where there is a will there is a way.

  3. You'll get it back, brother. Meanwhile, that rough is ridiculous. Even so, I have a feeling this might be the place where you need to conquer it. Envision ball flight.


Don't spam me bro.