Ms. L drove me to the course and hung around while I warmed up, taking in the scene. On the range we overheard a couple of nervous-sounding guys trying to pep talk each other, and even she had to scoff at their foggy platitudes about "staying in the moment" and "don't project".
I warmed up for about a half hour longer than I'd planned to. Like a typical busy day at an NYC muni, tee-times were hopelessly late.
|In the bizarro world, Vijay's a lefty.|
|Thanks to Jfurr for this solo cart-riding tip.|
I kicked off my round with a driver that was slightly mishit, but it soared down the middle. Then I hooked a 3-iron short of a greenside bunker to a fluffy lie in the rough, for which I was glad since I was still feeling kind of jittery. The ball sat with plenty of air underneath which made for an easy pitch; it got a nice bounce toward the hole and settled four feet away. Still, it was an insane pin location (my group all had messy three-putts) and I had to aim the putt outside the hole. I made a shaky nervous stroke and it barely dribbled in the high side for a birdie 4. I thought of last year, when I opened on this same hole with a double bogey and gave thanks for a much better start.
On the third hole my 9-iron approach got a member's bounce and settled three feet directly below a crazy sloped pin--near perfect. That's when the sandbagging murmurs started from some of my group. But it was mostly facetious, and anyways I don't think they really cared since none were in contention. Mostly they seemed genuinely glad that I placed well.
A couple of holes in there was a backup on the tee. Our group was standing around discussing pin positions, and the pin sheet. The CPA scoffed, saying that the sheet is useless because it shows every pin being smack in the middle. Someone explained to him about what the numbers meant, while I went off by myself and snickered.
|This is a file photo of the disaster area--what kind of douchebag would snap photos in the midst of making triple bogey.|
I was playing near pro-caliber golf, that is until the fifth hole. I hooked my layup almost off the planet into the trees alongside Flatbush Avenue, from where I made a foolhardy play for the green, one of about three bad decisions I made today. I kept the shot low but it hit the sweet spot of a tree trunk and shot backwards. I was pretty lucky that it didn't come to rest against the chainlink. I ended up making an 8, but given the intensity of the moment, it felt more like a 12. It was pretty sad ordeal but hey, at least it quieted the sandbagging talk.
I created an awkward moment, in the middle of the round. The CPA teed his ball a few inches in front of the tee markers and I let him know about it, apologizing for "being an ass". But what you gonna do? This is a fairly big event. It's good to have at least one such ass in a group--I learned that at last year's tournament. It probably helps to keep everyone in line. There is a time to be casual and loosey-goosey about golf rules but this isn't it.
I inhaled water throughout the round--four and half bottles which is what, 2.25 liters? That's probably what kept me from feeling like complete fried hell afterwards.
I also grazed a lot. I gobbled fistfuls of peanuts and raisins, thinking of Jack Kerouac hiking in "The Dharma Bums" ("This'll be our gasoline...").
The second nine was brutal as predicted. The wind, while not quite as insane as I had hoped for, blew in its usual unmerciful way on that side of the course. The heat kept rising and the sunlight seemed to intensify. Everyone's movements slowed down. The greens got faster while the perimeters of the cups got more ragged (we were among the last groups out). The holes, already in precarious positions as it was, grew even more ornery about accepting marginal putts--anything less than a center-cut roll with strong pace would get shooed away at the lip.
By the time I sat down at the scorer's table I was delirious (and still fuming over finishing with a double bogey). Because this division was won last year with an 89 I had a tiny hope that my 86 could win. But when I saw that 82 was leading, I immediately felt dumb for all that hand-wringing over being seen as a sandbagger or being in the wrong div.
At the reception I bumped into Marine Park head pro Evan Silkworth, who placed T18 with a 78. I know that had to be slightly disappointing even if it's an enviable score for a genuine four or five times-a-year kind of player. He's that busy with the teaching of the golf and running of the pro shop and what not. Anyways, he explained that most of the chumps who'd stunk up the pro division at last year's Open had been scared off and were largely replaced in this year's field by real-deal mini-tour guys--this year the winning score was lower, and there were more scores under par.
The competition was even stiffer in my own middling amateur division. Last year, just one guy broke 90. This year's winner shot 82, which was also the winning score in the next lower division. Who's the sandbagger now?
I'm satisfied with the score. I suppose. 82 would've been tough for me to beat. Still it would've been nicer to finish in solo second. I'm still bitter right now about the way I finished, because the final hole was the second time in the round shanking a 9-iron chip, each time it cost at least one stroke. Anyways I'll have to take some time now to reflect on all that went down and what I can learn from it.