Tuesday, December 13, 2005

SCGA TOCC: I love competing, Part Two

...Continued from SCGA TOCC: I love competing

The Results

On the last hole of the day (hole #2 for us), I was just off the green in 2 and just wanted to chip it up close to tap in for par. My chip was long and I ended up about 25 feet from the hole with a tricky looking double breaker. My strategy the rest of the day had been to take an extra stroke to get on the green if necessary, then weasel up close (perhaps you call that a lag) and go for the two-putt. (Essentially, I was playing for bogey golf on the more challenging or longer holes.) I looked at this tricky, long putt and decided I really wanted to just make it to finish the day right. If you’d have seen the position of my ball on this green, you’d know there was no justification for the sense of confidence that overcame me. I knew I could make it. I wanted that par. I got it. I didn’t know yet how much I needed it.

We put our clubs away, changed our shoes, turned in our scorecards and headed into the luncheon. Our foursome, "gallery" and one other guy they knew sat at the same table. He commented that he really expected to come here and win. I told him that he wasn’t alone in that feeling since he was playing against a group of people who were all champions of some club. I thought we all came to win. As we ate, we kept looking up at the board and scores were coming in and being officially posted. There were to be prizes for the top five finishers. They had the lowest five net scores in red and the rest in black as people finished their rounds and turned in their cards and the officials filled in the blank boxes on the board. Maybe most golfers out there have experienced this process, but it was my first time.

My score (68) was in red on the board. I was so excited that I was a contender for a prize. There was another 68, two 69s and one 64. There were to be “card-offs” for second and third prize but not for first, so if no other low scores came in, I was assured at least some prize. My excitement grew as my table-mates explained all this to me and started prematurely congratulating me. Then, someone noticed that the 64 was gone! We all searched for it on the board and discovered that in its place was a big “DQ.” I didn’t need anyone to tell me that didn’t mean Dairy Queen. (I found out later that the guy had submitted his net score from which the officials deducted his handicap to get the 64.) Holy crap. There were only two blank spaces left to fill in with scores and I’m tied for first! Both blanks were filled with marks in the 70’s.

My mouth became very dry and I kept gulping swallows of nothing. I went to get another beer. Odd that I wasn’t nervous before the round nor when I thought I was placing in the top five but upon discovering I had won the whole thing (with a co-champion) I was a temporary wreck. Maybe, like my thought about why I wasn’t nervous at the start, it was because I didn’t shoot a record round and was just shocked that it was enough to win and somehow felt undeserving because of that. I regained my nerves before they called me up but I couldn’t stop smiling and occasionally giggling and I tried to resist clapping my hands in giddiness. They took pictures of us with the trophy for the magazine and the room cleared out fast except for the winners’ tables. We hung around for a few minutes and exchanged e-mails for photos and that was it. I drove back to my parents’ house alone, made a few excited phone calls and took a nap. I guess I did my celebrating the night before.

Champion of Champions - Isn't it pretty?!?

The other prize for first place was this money clip. Not sure what I'm going to do with that. Maybe next year it'll be a compact or a purse and the men will face this dilemma.

Looking Back

Upon reflection, it wasn’t just that awesome putt on my 18th hole that did the trick. Number 16 is a semi-blind, long par 3 with OB left, right and front. The hounds were upon us, and even split up to the tee and the green to try to better manage this potential delay maker. The first guy teed off and went OB. He hit another and we could see that it was in play. My playing partner went next, and the ball went left out of our view, but hound #2 said it was in play on the cart path to the left. I hit next, and my ball left our view to the right of the green, either towards the bunker or the house (I sure wouldn’t want to be sitting on that back patio) and not even the hounds could see it to tell if it was in play or not. After my fellow female competitor went next and played it safe and short left, I declared a provisional, which I promptly sent out of bounds to the right where we could all clearly see it cross over. I hit a third, which went left but I saw it bounce and knew it would be in play even though hound #2 didn’t. If I couldn’t find my first ball in bounds, I’d be lying 5 where that shot landed. It turned out to be in a position almost anyone would be happy with on this hole: just short of the green on the left fringe for a (theoretically) easy up and down. But I had to look for my first. To my amazement, I found it well within bounds, just behind the bunker in a muddy predicament. Since we had the hounds there, I decided to use them for all they were worth (so far, just to provide intimidation) and called one over for a ruling. I thought I might be in a casual water situation, but he didn’t see any coming out from under my shoes. He did, however, lament my situation aloud as he poked and prodded at the muddy bumps and wondered if it was some kind of animal hole. I was only a couple yards from the front of the green and the pin was towards the front, but I had to cross the corner of a bunker from that terrible lie. I aimed a little left and managed to put it on the fringe with my choppy chip, then chip up and putt in to save bogie. Hallelujah. Those three strokes would have put me T6 instead of winner. Of course there were other strokes that could have made the difference, but none quite so obvious and dramatic.

Back to the daily grind

Now if only I could do more of this...
... like I did on Monday (and Sunday and Tuesday) and less of this...

... like I did on Wednesday. (Why do people live like this?) I was in snowy Chicago from Wednesday through Friday, digging my rental car out from under the previous nights' dump on Friday morning. Saturday morning, I was back home and on the course wearing shorts for my club's annual "Turkey Shoot." More on that later.

Not over yet

It has been a whirlwind getting to this point and the wins have come fast and furious. We are fortunate to not really have an “off season” in Southern California, but I plan to make some adjustments to my game and continue practicing and improving. I’m considering seeking out some instruction, but I haven’t decided if I want to continue on being self-taught or not. Maybe I could improve faster with instruction, but I’m not sure. If so, how much faster and would it be worth it?

Next post.


mediaguru @ hookedongolfblog.com said...

Congrats fellow champ! I played in my first TOC this year. Blew up, melted down...whatever you wanna call it.

But having that championship trophy is something to be proud of for sure.

You must be a geek just like me if you're taking photos through your car windshield...

Greg said...

Big Congrats GC!!!! I hope I can follow along the same path. I will be playing my 19th round tomorrow and joining a golf association for handicap purposes and of course, competition! I've broke 100 several times and I can see the 80s coming soon.

Congrats again and keep it up!!

Gxgolfer said...

Hi Golfchick,

I think your articles are great! I would like to talk to you about posting your articles on our site!

Golfchick said...

Thanks, guys!

Media- I don't know what kind of geek you are. I am one, to be sure, and sometimes quite obviously. But I'm not a geek of the highest order like someone else we know.(Hi Rich) :)

That photo was taken during my 4 hour drive to get 20 miles in that storm. In other words, I had plenty of time to think of other things to do while driving.

Greg- It will be fun to track your improvement once you have a number. Keep up the good work!

Gxgolfer- Start talking! :) Or post your e-mail address and I'll contact you directly.