Saturday, April 12, 2008

Finally one of the 10 percent

It has been almost 12 years since I played my first round of golf. That first time out on the course was brutal. It as at San Jacinto Junior College, a nine-hole course in Pasadena.

I knew I was bad, but damn, that first ever round was down-right embarrassing. The real wake-up call for me was in 2000 when I played the TPC at The Woodlands in the Southland Conference football media day scramble. I was playing with Bobby Williams and once again really sucked. I knew then there was no way I could continue to be that bad going in to my field of work.

Over the years I have steadily gotten better. The last few years I have been consistently shooting just above 100.

I have flirted with the century mark on a few occasions. The first was in 2003 at Texas National. I was standing on the 18th needing birdie for 99. Despite the fact I hadn't had a birdie the entire round (or that year for that matter), I still stood over my ball about as nervous as can be.

The drive proceeded to go straight left into the trees. I followed that with about a 50-yard worm-burner and then an approach shot into the bunker. When all was said-and-done, I walked off the 18th with a six and a 102 for the round.

It took a while before I seriously challenged the 100 mark again. Last year at Brian's bachelor party we played Raven Nest. I opened with a front-nine 54 and pretty much didn't give thought to a sub-100 round. But the back-nine went pretty good for me. a couple of pars put me in contention and when I got to 18 all I needed was a par for 99. I had pared the hole twice before, so I knew it was a real possibility.

I stood over the ball and once again locked up. I stepped back and went right back up to the ball. I then hit one of the worst drives I have hit since playing the TPC in 2000. Not wanting to let it end there, I took my one mulligan of the day and reteed. This time, a hard slice right.

A nice recovery shot to get me back in the fairway was then followed by a five-iron into the front green-side bunker. I then flew the green and a three-putt gave me another round of 102. We played another 18 and I didn't do any better, carding a 108.

The silver lining of the day however was the middle 18. I played my first back-nine and second time on the front-nine in a 100. I knew I was getting close.

That brings us to Monday at Alamo Golf Club. My first time out on this course, and I didn't know what to expect. There were several tricky par-3's that got me early, but I still went out in 48. I had a chance.

The back-nine was going pretty good. I had a blow up on a par-3 and carded a six, but I was pretty much playing bogey golf. I got to 18, and decided not to look at the scorecard. I have stood over that ball twice before and let it get to my head. It wasn't going to happen this time.

A rare par-3 finishing hole looked simple enough. I tried not to think about the 99. I hit my first shot 10-feet to the right of the green. A little pitch put me 15-feet from the cup and a two-putt gave me the bogey. DJ added up the scores and I couldn't look. I just waited and when he said "95" I couldn't believe it. I had finally cracked 100.

I remember reading a stat one time that only 10 percent of the people who play golf ever break 100. For the longest time, I figured I was going to be the 90 percent. I hope to get back out in a few weeks and see if I can do it again. It might take a while before I ever do it again, but when the time comes, hopefully I can approach the tee-shot on 18 a little more calm than in the past and just enjoy the moment.

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