There is no starter calling your name. The maintenance staff is rounding down the ninth green. It’s early for me. Playing this early means one of two things. 1. You can afford it. or  2. You are a guest. I feel like I’m stuck in second place, possibly forever. There is a group of men making wagers on the practice green. They are all the same even though completely different. The same beer bellies hanging over there belts. The same blood shot eyes of either poor health or poor decisions. They all were the same uniforms of white collared shirts and some kind of pleated khaki shorts. Some wear hats, some wear visors and some sport their sunburns. I’ve witnessed this scene for many years. These are the Country Club athletic elite. I won’t play with these guys today but I find good humor in the thought of trimming a few extra bucks off of them, just for fun. They will disrespect the game today. They will hack, they will yell, they will cheat, they will sandbag, gentlemen’s game indeed.  They are not my kind. So, I find humor in the thought that my love for the game and my skill outweighs their increasing waist lines. Enjoy your sweaty torturous ride around fellas.  We tee it before you.

I have problems at Green Valley Country Club. For most of my life I have been a fader of the ball, left to right. This golf course moves in a draw pattern, right to left. It is a fast, firm track and very tight. Tree lined, waiting to evaporate a golf ball into a strange abyss. Golfers know what I’m talking about here. If you’ve ever hit a shot into the trees and never found it. Where do they go, some kind of Titleist labyrinth? I rip my first shot up the left side, something feels different. I hit a towering 8 iron over some tall trees and make a standard two putt birdie. The opening hole is a short par 5 but one I rarely, ok never make birdie on. I go around the front nine in 35, one under par. I hit one bad shot on the front and recovered with one of the best bunker shots I’ve ever hit, possibly taking a spot in my Top 5, which if you have played with me, you know how good that shot must have been. The back nine is much of the same, with some  rust and fatigue I fall apart a little at the end but my short game saves me and I post -1, 71. Just a couple little details from being in the 60s again but quite possibly the most solid I’ve ever played.

In a Facebook post this morning I stated that I did something different for this round. I actually did quite a bit different. My job as a custom golf club fitter puts me in the middle of technology world. I analyze everything at work. In four years I think I’ve gone too far with my own game. I’ve analyzed it past feeling. I miss playing the game and not just playing swing. In this round I stopped thinking about spin rates, launch conditions, speed and equipment. I have a few different sets of clubs. Instead of putting the ones in the bag that produce the best numbers, I chose what feels the best. For example: I have a driver that goes at least 10 yards further but I don’t like the way it feels. I get on the first fairway and for some reason my range finder is stuck in Meters and I can’t get it to adjust to Yards. I hate math so I decide to play with sprinkler head yardage and sight only. I feel like I only got one wrong all day. Huh. I was creative with every shot. I played like myself again, it’s been a long time. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I didn’t allow myself to get wrapped up in score. I didn’t allow emotion to lock me up. I didn’t allow anything to happen except pure joy of the game. It was golf course magic and  I couldn’t help but think, “is this it?”

My story has so many chapters and I’ve often wondered how that final one will read. How I want it to read and the reality may be different and of course I’m talking golf story and not exactly always in line with my life story but it’s always there, it always has been. I wish my story to crescendo with an appearance in the US Open.  I’ve never been secretive of this, it’s my big dream but wishes don’t make results. I  imagine sitting on the back of the last green at a difficult venue and flashing back to all the work, commitment and relishing my moment with my family. Reality, this may never happen. I hold onto it however because I want to. There is a part of me that still believes and I glimpsed him again yesterday.

I don’t want to be one of those guys. Those guys on the putting green, conniving their way to winning small cash bets before they even tee off. I still love the game. I play on. To Be Continued…