Golfer’s Diary: That’s more like it at CCC!

Last week, I wrote about my first experience with league golf. I didn’t really understand the scoring or handicap. I was extremely nervous coming in. I played like trash and was pretty embarrassed. That said, I had an awesome time and the guys I played with were fantastic company.

So when my buddy CJ asked me to once again fill in for his league at Cassadaga Country Club, I didn’t even have to think twice about it (though I did have to make sure the wife was okay staying home with our three kids under two years old).

My goal was simple: play better. It wasn’t just that last round at CCC which saw me play far worse than I’m accustomed to. A few weeks ago, I wrote about bringing my uncle to the course and promptly playing like I didn’t know which end of the club to hold. So yes, CCC has been kicking me around lately.

This week, I was actually playing with CJ and we were paired with Kevin and Fenton. CJ and Kevin actually had identical handicaps, so they were essentially playing scratch golf. Meanwhile, I don’t have a real handicap yet, so Fenton and I were just playing and letting the official scorer do his thing after we turned in our card.

It didn’t take too long to realize that I was, in fact, going to have a much better score than my 47 last week. We began on No. 5, which was a pretty standard bogey with a mediocre drive, okay approach, a chip and two putts.

After that, however, No. 6 provided some magic! I didn’t put in for closest to the pin or skins because…well…I’m not real sure. But CJ went back in right before we started and put in for me. He said he had a good feeling. Well, I pulled out my pitching wedge and dropped my ball 65 §” from the cup. That’s about five-and-a-half feet for those who prefer it that way. CJ, Kevin and Fenton were all saying they were sure that would hold up. Even after leaving my birdie putt just low and settling for par, I was feeling pretty darn good about that.

No. 7 leaves an interesting quandary, especially in league play. I can always hit my driver the distance it takes to clear the pond, but I can’t always hit it straight. When I’m just out with my buddies, we give ourselves one mulligan per round, which I often save to take a shot at driving over the pond. But in a league, obviously, I don’t have that option. I get one shot at it. I decided to take it anyway and blistered a ball perfectly straight and well over the pond. No problem…or so I thought. When I got up to the ball, there was what amounts to a tall shrub directly between me and the green. There was simply no way around it. I was too close to the plant to hit pitching wedge, so I had to pull out the dastardly lob wedge — a club I’ve used maybe five times in my life. Having no real idea what I was doing, I hit a gorgeous shot that almost swished into the cup. Again, I was feeling quite good about myself.

Then as we were headed to the next tee, I hear “Sorry, Stefan. I beat your closest to the pin.” Yup. It held up for exactly one group. Heck, it might have only been one golfer if this guy teed off first in his group. The only solace was that it was another member of CJ’s team, so at least he could be happy for him. But it burst my bubble pretty quickly.

I have to point out perhaps the two shots of the day — both by Fenton. Now Fenton is a strong dude. He didn’t even appear to carry a driver with him because he just demolishes irons off the tee. He used that strength twice in situations that made me question what I just saw. On No. 9, his tee shot rolled into the creek bed, but was still playable (in the loosest sense of the word). Fenton simply stood directly in the water and ripped a shot nearly all the way to the green. Let me reiterate that you could barely see the ball in the thick growth and it was a crazy uphill lie. I would have been happy to pop the ball up 40 yards back into the fairway.

His second shot, however, was one of the wildest I can remember. His drive on No. 1 went a little bit right and landed under one of the trees right before the bridge (if you haven’t played CCC, this is a brutal spot to be). There’s no way Fenton could take even half of a backswing with the tree branches right there. Kevin said with complete conviction that Fenton was going to put the ball back in his stance and chop down on it, sending it over the creek but under the low hanging branches of the tree on the other bank. I wouldn’t be writing about it if that wasn’t EXACTLY what he did. But that’s not all! He didn’t just get out of a horrible situation. Fenton sent the ball 150 yards onto the green!

After parring Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and then nearly driving No. 4’s green, I was looking squarely at a phenomenal run to end the round. I was probably 10 feet, maybe less, from the green after my drive. I hit what I thought was the perfect little chip and it ran right towards the cup. Then it ran past the cup. Then it ran off the back of the green. Then it ran down the little hill. A chip back on the green and two putts later and I was writing down a bogey on the card. They add up fast around the green, don’t they?

Long story short, I’m absolutely loving subbing in this league. Cassadaga Country Club is always a fun track, the guys are great and I even played better (41). How can you beat that?

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

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