I am getting serious about meeting this challenge. About moving on with life, getting out and enjoying some of the other places within the local golfosphere. Yep, believe it or not, give it enough time and I'll miss all the city courses--Dyker, Marine--every last rundown one of 'em. Except Forest Park though.
If I am so determined to get this challenge done, I should invest a little time. Right? So I showed up a half hour early to chip and putt. I'm working on some nifty new chipping technique. And while putting I might've figured something out too. Glad I came.
It's by all measures a great day to be out playing golf. Not great by my personal standards, but for 99.99% of everyone else who plays golf, a great day. And of course most of them came out today. Whatever, let's settle in. It's going to be a long one.
One. Downwind. I clubbed down to stay short of the hazard but instead popped it up slightly. 7-iron to the green clipped a tree on the right side, hit the cart path and luck-bounced on to the middle of the green. Par
Two. Full sand wedge to about eight feet. Birdie. -1
Three. Par 3. Pushed 4-iron to pin high right. I hit a safe chip to avoid going long and running off a cliff. I was happy to be ten feet short of the hole--but I holed it. -1
Four. Uphill par 4. Popped up again, leaving me about 200 yards in a bendy line to the green. I cut it way too much and sweated hard just to make 5. Even
Five. #1 handicap hole. Swatted two solid woods to get to just short of the green. I didn't trust my chipping technique and flubbed it short. Where I had been thinking birdie, I had to scramble to save par. Even
Six. Massive uphill par 3 with the tee pushed way back. 5-iron went long, chipped to 5' and converted.
Seven. The savage 15-yard deep green with false front and back. Took a big swing with a sand wedge, caught it a little thin but could feel it spinning hard. Great leave 8' behind the hole. Even
Eight. Things got ugly when one of the pair of douchebags in the group decided, as me and the other single were heading off the tee, that he didn't like his tee shot and to re-load, which he did while I was about fifty yards ahead in the right rough with my back turned to the tee. Even if a good player did that, it would be a sin. This guy, I watched spray it around for the last seven holes--mostly to the right. That tore it. I walked back toward the tee, squared up to him and told he needed to give a heads up before doing that. He said he did. (He was lying.) "But if I didn't hear it, and my back is turned, and you hit, how is that right?"
Seeing red, I tried to finish out the hole. Motherfuck, and I left myself a nasty 4' slider for a bogey. My pulse was racing and I was twitching with anger, but I made it +1
Nine. After the eighth I had a decision to make. There was no way I'm going to continue playing with a homicidal jackass--he could've killed me a few minutes ago. But wasn't sure whether to march on and try to ditch them. Nah, too much stress. I remembered seeing the group behind us had three, so I decided to hang back and join up with them. I swallowed my rage and calmly told the rest of them to play on without me, and to have a good round, though it was the coldest, most heartless "have a good round" that was ever spoken.
I sat in the shade and read the New York Times, trying hard to forget about everything. After the offenders were out of sight I had to play #9 alone with my sputtering rage. Another pop up wood off the tee. Steady stream of foul words coming out at this point. Attempted a 5-wood up the sheer face of a cliff and failed. A really nice tweener wedge to 8', and snuck in the putt. A very good result considering my current state of mind. +1, 36 on the front nine.
Ten. At the turn I waited around forever for that threesome to catch up. Bad feeling about this already. I sat down in an unmanned cart and tried to lose myself in my phone, checking PGA Tour scores and news and what not. I had been pumped to make that putt for 36, but agitation still lingered. It hung over me. From the perch of 10 tee you could see the course gridlocked all the way in. I groaned.
I finally met the new group and was severely not impressed. They didn't seem to rate me much either. One of them was kind of a decent guy I guess. His friend was a nice guy but a douchebag, and the third guy was a complete douchebag.
Oh and I four-putted for a triple bogey. This green has always confused me, even though there is nothing subtle about it--just one gigantic break from back to front. Walked off the green in a daze. +4
Eleven. This is where my suspicions about these new guys were confirmed. I hit my shot and then looked on helpless as they took an eternity to discuss the shot and the distance at length, all in a very obnoxious, pretentious way (breaking a lot of golf rules in the process), and finally taking way too many useless practice swings before hitting three mediocre shots.
I myself missed just short of the par 3. I should've putted but tried to sneak in a fancy little lob wedge and deservedly chubbed it, still off the green. I feel it all starting to slip away in earnest now.
But I holed the putt from the fringe, about 12'--following up a four-putt with a zero-putt. Maybe hope is still alive. +4
Twelve. Long uphill par 4. More douchebaggery on display. After taking another eternity, the complete douchebag guy banged driver pretty hard. I'll admit it looked nice in the air, but it faded into the tree line, hit some oak and bounced back. The insecure whining that ensued was pathetic to behold. "But I hit that so solid." He felt the need to repeat that five times. The other douchebag coddled his ego. "Man, that would've went close to 300 if not for the tree."
It was now apparent what we were dealing with. The guy had a fancy bag full of custom clubs, the likes of which I haven't even heard of. They looked expensive though. He was very into his GPS rangefinding app. A beefy, slow-witted young lad with a shitty swing built for speed. The kind of guy who's very into some of the trappings of golf--particularly hitting it hard and watching it fly and posing like an asshole--but none of which include scoring, or following basic rules. What a sham. The only consolation looking at a guy like this is knowing that he is going to burn out and eventually find another interest to make a sham out of.
Meanwhile I hit the fairway and a towering 5-iron to the middle of the green. Amidst all this moral corruption I held my head high walking the fairway with putter in hand, while those other guys were all chopping it around playing from tree-line--on the right, naturally. Bunch of slicing fucking hacks. A sterling par offered me a glimmer of goodness amidst this hive of scum and villainy I had found myself in. +4
Thirteen. The longest par 5 for miles around, 540 yards. It is straight as can be--from the tee, you look right at the green. Yet this hole is always, always an adventure for me. I have never gone fairway to fairway to GIR, ever. Today was no exception. I blocked it into the next fairway, scraped and smothered it left into more adventures. Double bogey, +6
Fourteen. I need to shoot +3 over these last five holes. That means I have to make a couple pars. Right now, I am losing hope. It feels like too tall a task. The wind's picking up and the pace is slowing down. It's already been over four hours at this point. Plus my swing's leaving me, I can feel it.
I withstand more idiotic chatter on the teebox and flush a 4-iron down the dogleg left. Not that anyone noticed. Then from the fairway I really struggled with maddening, shifting winds. Finally chose a club only to have the ball get eaten up in the wind. But using the new technique I got up and down with lob wedge from about 15 yards. +6
Fifteen. Short par 4 over water. I felt a little nervy here. It's not a lot of water to carry, but a moment like this is a painful reminder of how lowly I am at golf--a chunky mishit means disaster, and with something on the line, it freaks me out a little. Doesn't help that this teebox is all moundy and humpbacked and weird. Pulled the tee shot, made bogey. +7
Sixteen. Long par 3. More club selection chatter. I found the green while those idiots went left and right all over the place. Ugly. Once again my straight shooting and respect for the game rises above the muck. This green is crazy-tough though, and I wasn't too surprised when I three-putted for bogey. +8
Seventeen. Medium par 4 with OB right, very close to the fairway. Always a potential scorecard buster. I have to be honest, hope is almost lost at this point. Besides this hole, the final hole is the hardest one here. Coming up on five hours since tee-off, energy is waning. I can't even remember the last time I played a five-hour douchebag round.
Another popped 3-wood. How am I surviving these shots? They're not total pop-ups, but they're leaving me about twenty yards short all day. A fanned 6-iron short right. Another bogey. +9
Eighteen. This is it. Whatever happens, at least I took it down to the last hole--this is my loser talk as I'm trying to pull a club for the tee shot. It is such a narrow shot to a severe uphill fairway, then an uphill green. Very long hole, so you kind of have to hit driver. Sometimes though, I chicken out and hit 3-wood.
Not today. A voice inside says I must go for broke here. I toed a driver into the fairway, a long way back. I paced it off at 177, plus a full club more for the elevation. I am about to step in the shot, and douchebag blurts out to me that his GPS says 163.
Fuck me. WHO ASKED YOU, COCKSUCKER? For a split second actually I considered his stupid number. But I glanced at the striped-pole and decided there's no way this half-wit could be right. In my head I said fuck you asshole and went ahead with the shot as planned. I flushed it, a towering 4-iron all over the fucking flag. "Please be right." This green's elevated so the ball appears to have touched down safely, but I can't tell how close. Or how far.
Walking up the fairway putter in hand, I still felt low. Great, I thought, now my lag putting's going to get tested here--and fail. Fail, with my nose inches from finish line. Fuck me. Fuck everything. My pace quickened as I got closer. When I finally saw ball, it appeared to be close. As I walked closer, it got better and better.
Three lousy feet. I guess I had paced off the right yardage. I should've rubbed that guy's nose in it. Whatever, this is my moment. Now I can enjoy the rest of the walk. Two putts from that tiny distance and I can put this whole silly challenge behind me. Of course it took forever for these crumb-bums to finally finish whacking their balls around the green. My little putt was left edge. Honestly I didn't really care what happened, but I took my time and tapped in for a 78. Praise God.
I first started playing Silver Lake in the late fall of 2013 and came often ever since. Every round here is hard work. My previous low was 81. It's been a long journey. I'm not all that jazzed about the way I hit the ball today, but man that last 4-iron was something. Given the circumstances it was the best shot I have ever hit.
When you think about what led up to this, it seemed destined to play out this way. I mean, in the last two rounds I was joined with a senseless newbie, and then an impossibly annoying motormouth septuagenarian. But those terrible experiences hardened and readied me for this one stupendously terrible experience. It's a beautiful story, really.
Today I could feel the world of NYC golf douchebags closing in on me, and the stakes getting even higher--because if I didn't meet this stupid goal soon, the task would only have gotten harder. Until the winter, that is. Scary thought.
But now I can get out of here, stretch out and finally play somewhere else. Also summer's here early and maybe I'd like to take a chill pill and scale back the golf rounds. These five-hour douchebag outings are exhausting. I don't know how they do this on a weekly basis, I really don't.
I'll probably get out to Marine Park real soon. Maybe I can shore up my hooks and pops, and then venture out to a real course like Bethpage. Whatever. For now, so long Staten Island. See ya when I see ya.