Bogey golf at its finest

Golfer's Diary

Have you ever woken up the morning before a round of golf and just had a feeling you were going to play great?

That’s what happened to me on Sunday morning. My friend and co-worker Steve and I went out to Pinehurst Golf Club in Westfield. It’s unquestionably one of my favorite courses. I hadn’t played at all in about a week-and-a-half, but I was feeling great. This was going to be a two-birdie round, for sure.

Or so I thought.

It turns out that I played just about my average game for the round. I had some great shots and I had some that I’d love to have back. That’s just how it goes, I suppose.

I’m burying the lead, though. The story of the round wasn’t how I played or how Steve played, it was the course itself. This was the first time I’ve been out to Pinehurst this year (thanks, four-month-old twins), but I had heard from several people how immaculate the course has been looking. After playing myself, I don’t disagree. And I’m certainly not surprised. The Swanson brothers obviously care about their course and go to great lengths to ensure that their golfers get an enjoyable round.

Plus Arnie (Ryan’s awesome dog) greeted us in the parking lot, so that always sets a great tone.

The first hole also set a bogey-rific tone for my day. I hit a nice (though not super long) drive, but didn’t do much with the second shot. The third shot was on the fringe and my chip was great, setting me up for an easy par putt. Well, I simply pushed the putt right. I have no other excuse. Par was there for the taking and I just totally missed the cup. Sadly, it wasn’t the last time.

No. 4 turned out to be my worst hole of the day, but you never would have guessed that from my tee shot. It’s a pretty standard par 3 in terms of length, but the green is quite large and difficult to navigate. Ideally, you want to be short left. I hit a good-looking shot that landed just a bit shorter than I was hoping and didn’t quite make the green. But still, short left gave me a great look at the pin. My chip wasn’t awful, but I hit my par putt past the cup and then turned around and somehow missed the bogey putt, too. Yes, it took me four shots to get it in from the fringe — a total of about 20 feet. Ugh!

I followed up that monstrosity with my worst drive of the season. I hit the ground two inches behind my ball and then sliced the daylights out of the ball, sending it into no-man’s land off to the right. Thankfully I hit an awesome save shot and then chipped to within feet of the pin. I bet you’ll never guess what happened after that. Yup! I missed an easy par putt.

No. 6 is one of my favorite holes in existence. Even from the white tees it’s nearly 500 yards. From the blues it shoots back to about 570, I believe. That’s a healthy par 5, folks. With a hole that long, it feels so darn good to score well. A beautiful drive and yet another wonderful chip (at least one part of my game was reliable) set me up for a pretty easy first par of the day. My second par came on No. 9 and was just how you draw it up — good drive, decent second shot just off the green, great chip and made putt.

Steve and I played No. 7 hilariously similarly. I teed off first and came up short. He landed his about two feet closer. I babied my chip a bit. He followed by doing the exact same thing. I hit my putt about a foot past the cup. His came to a stop right next to my marker. Then we both tapped in our bogey putts. It was a strange sequence, indeed.

Because this is how golf goes, Steve finally put it all together on the last two holes — just in time to go home. He had been struggling some with his hybrid, but smashed shots with it on both Nos. 8 & 9. He’d been topping his drives, but annihilated his final drive of the day. I have no doubt that if we had played another nine, Steve would have shaved five or six strokes off his front nine score. He joked that playing with me and knowing his round would be written about in the OBSERVER was what threw him off his game. Of course, we also jokingly blamed the wind, the rain (or lack thereof) and anything else we could think of on our bad shots.

Turning in the cart key even turned into a highlight. Both Nolan and Ryan Swanson were in the clubhouse with their wives and kids. Their dad — legendary basketball coach Mel Swanson — was there, too. It’s a truly great family and the fact that they so obviously care about their course makes it easy to support them. Seriously, go play at Pinehurst. You won’t regret it. I hope to get back very soon.

Until next time, golf is great. Go get some.