Golfer’s Diary: Remember the good shots

Holy smokes! I finally played golf!

We had some family in town over the weekend and during one of the visits my father-in-law mentioned that it was supposed to be 80 degrees and sunny on Sunday. I quickly pulled out my phone and texted a few friends about the possibility of playing some golf.

To my great delight, it was my elementary school best friend Chris (for the remainder of this article I’ll call him CJ like everyone else does because we actually played with another guy named Chris) who responded that he was actually already scheduled to play, but I was welcome to join him and his group at Cassadaga Country Club.

That was awesome for a number of reasons. First off, I actually got to play golf for the first time in 2019. Secondly, CJ and I didn’t play together all of last season after rekindling our friendship over golf in the year or two prior to that. So it was great to see my old friend. Thirdly, I almost never have a proper group when I golf. It’s usually just me and one other person. It’s fun to have that foursome (we were actually a fivesome, but we didn’t hold anyone up) every once in a while.

The three other guys that rounded out the group were great company, too. Al was a friend of mine in high school, but I’m not sure we had done more than run into each other in passing over the last decade. Chris, as it turns out, was someone I had previously encountered at a former job of mine, but it took a few holes to put two and two together and realize that our paths had crossed before. I had never met Kevin, but I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with him.

We were all shockingly similar skill-wise on the golf course, too. I didn’t actually get everyone else’s final tally, but we all hit some good shots mixed in with our fair share of terrible ones. Honors passed around on each hole and we all cheered each other on when par putts dropped or a drive split the fairway. It really was a great environment. Some people take golf way too seriously for my liking. Others don’t take it seriously at all and are just there to drink beer and have a good time. There’s nothing inherently wrong with either end of the spectrum, but these guys fell right in line with my tastes and it added to the experience, for sure.

So how did I do, you ask? Well, that’s complicated. It was my first round in nine months or so and I played predictably inconsistent — if that makes sense.

I struggled mightily with the first hole after hitting a crummy drive over to the left. I simply couldn’t get on the green. It’s almost as if I was rusty or something.

On No. 2, I hit a beautiful drive and was on the green in two, but three-putted my way to a bogey. Still, not terrible.

Then came No. 3, which gives me headaches even when I’m at the top of my game. I went left again, which if you’ve played the course you know is a nightmare scenario. There’s a giant grove of trees over there that make the green all but invisible. I ended up with an 8 — my second snowman in the first three holes. Still, I was out golfing, so I was a happy man. I told CJ that the only time I tend to get frustrated on the course is if I’m having a stellar round and then everything falls apart on just one hole. Thankfully (or something), I stunk right from the beginning.

No. 5 was fun to watch. Chris stepped up to the tee box and smoked one that landed just short of the green. I went next and had a nearly identical shot. Al followed ours with one that landed right behind ours. Three shots — three

nearly perfect drives. Unfortunately, none of us were able to capitalize for birdie, but it was nice to get that first par out of the way.

No. 6 was fun, too, but I wasn’t involved in the par-fest. CJ, Chris and Kevin all managed to par the hole in drastically different ways. Kevin hit the green off the tee and two-putted. Chris was off to the right but had a masterful chip that led to a kick-in par. CJ was short of the green, had an okay chip, but then buried a long putt.

No. 7 was the site of one of the shots of my life. There’s always the debate whether to lay up or try to clear the pond when you’re up on top of that hill. I was driving the ball alright, so I decided to go for it. Well, I’m glad I did because I hit an absolute bomb that landed pin height on the fringe of the green. After a pedestrian attempt at eagle (the pin placement was brutal from where I was), I was able to bury my birdie putt on the way back.

Perhaps more impressively, however, was the fact that I recorded par on the hellacious No. 8. Chris hadn’t played Cassadaga Country Club in 10 years or so and had completely forgotten about this hole. After his double-bogey he left the green smiling saying, “Only on this hole would a double-bogey make someone happy.” But he’s right. That one is unforgiving to put it mildly.

The other guys stayed to play another nine, but my wife was home alone with the kids, so I called it a day. But what a great way to kick off the golf season. The course was beautiful as always. The company was great. And I hit some shots that I can be proud of.

That’s the tip for this week. You’re going to have good shots and you’re going to have bad shots, but when you get in your car at the end of the day, just try to remember those handful of good ones. Maybe you can trick yourself into thinking you had a better round than you did. And have fun regardless. That’s what it’s all about.

As always, golf is great. Go get some.

Stefan Gestwicki is an OBSERVER contributing writer. Comments on this article can be sent to golfersdiary@gmail.com.

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