Posted by: randyhaaggolf | October 10, 2018

Create memories while you can, live each day to the fullest, try not to be an idiot

I’m involved in each of these three, I try to create memories for life when I can, I try to live each day to the fullest, and I do sometimes act like an idiot.

But on Tuesday I got to create a memory, and I enjoyed every second of the experience, knowing that its only a matter of time when this will all come to an end. I will address acting like an idiot later in this post.

But what I will remember most about winning the NCGA Mid-Am Four Ball, is doing it with my dearest friend Jason Anthony. It won’t have anything to do with how I played or even how he played, just being out there competing with a guy you love to be with is a royal treat. Perhaps I would feel a little different if he shot 95, but honestly I doubt it, as long as he tries as hard as I do on every shot. I laugh when I hear guys say, yeah I shot 66 on my own ball. Well yeah you shot 66 because you were able to be aggressive and hit shots at pins and putt with aggressive speeds. You can NEVER brag about what you shot, and its rude as hell to your partner.

Yes, I always want to be the one that helps the team as much as possible, but playing with Jason I ALWAYS know that he is going to do great things on the golf course during a round of golf. In this event, he was the star on the from nine (yesterday he made 5 birdies through the first 10 holes) and then I made 4 birdies on the last 8 holes. It was a blast, and I could not be any happier than the way we played and enjoyed ourselves and the guys we were paired with.

On day one, we played with my idol, Casey Boyns and his son Christopher. I had not played with Christopher before, and I was VERY impressed with every part of his game. He truly has the Boyns DNA running through his body. There are very few people as warm and friendly as Casey Boyns, but don’t mistake that kindness and easy going nature for anything less than a killer competitor when it comes to the game of golf. His new Ping driver had him outdriving all of us on many of the holes, especially #10 where into the wind on the 436 hole he had a sand wedge into the green at the age of 62 (I think). If you are ever lucky enough to play with Casey, you will never forget the experience of what a true gentleman and phenomenal golfer and competitor he is.

And YES I did finally tie my Idols record 16 NCGA Major wins, however I have done it with WAY more best ball victories (8) vs his I think 3-4. Which means I only have 8 individual titles to his over 12. And he’s won 2 California State Am titles to my 0. Hard to compare players and records, I am just proud as hell to be mentioned with him, and to now be a Hall of Fame with this incredible guy, and friend!

So what’s next, perhaps a show-down with Jason on Sunday in the Olympic Club Championship 36 hole final. But well before that I will need to win a Sat morning quarterfinal match and Semi final Sat afternoon match against some VERY good players. I’ll keep you posted on how that unfolds. In the meantime I am resting my body and thinking about my swing in slow motion. I play best when my body sync is slow with power only arriving at the very bottom of my swing. I still yip many putts while making a few with my eyes closed. I am a bit of a mess there, and hope to fix whatever wire is loose…lol

I was recently asked about what happened in the 2015 Senior Amateur at the amazing Royal County Downs when I was DQ after I had played only 2 holes. Since I tell it the way it happened, I won’t sugar coat this short version of what EXACTLY happened. So here we go!!

I was in Ireland for 2 weeks prior to the event with a good friend of mine preparing for the Senior Am. I did 2 very idiotic things before the event. First off I contacted my friends at Carr Travel and they arranged some comped golf for me at some amazing courses. One in particular was Waterville where I was greeted by the secretary and head pro with a course guide and was told that a single player was waiting for me at the 1st tee. After 5 or 6 holes just playing a casual round of golf the gentleman I was playing with said, wow Randy you are already 4 under par. I thought to myself what an odd thing to say to me in a casual round with zero pressure. I was out playing while my girlfriend at the time was waiting for me in the Clubhouse so I was hoping the round would move swiftly as we had a three hour drive afterwards to Ballybunion Golf Club.

On the 7th hole, I hit a decent drive on this unreachable par 5, and waited fairly impatiently while the group ahead seemed to take forever to move along. Once they reached the green I hit my second shot without even shooting the yardage I had (idiotic move on my part) that opened pandoras box, as my ball whistled through the green and right between an older gentleman legs on the putting green. To my horror and disbelief the older gentleman got in his cart and drove directly back at me. This was an OH SHIT I’m screwed moment. This older Irish gentleman was even more pissed when he saw it was an American that almost prematurely ended his life. He ripped me a new one for what seemed like an hour. I sheepishly made my birdie and didn’t really feel like playing anymore golf. But I proceeded and knew there was ZERO chance his group was going to let us play through. I guess I was now 5 under on the round, and finished the nine holes with a birdie on #9 to shoot 6 under par.

The tenth hole is a long par four, but playing downwind making it very short. After a wedge to 3 feet I was now 7 under and ready for the par 5 11th hole also playing downwind. After a drive and 9 iron to 5 feet, I thought why not make eagle here and go to 9 under after 11 holes, something I have never done before. When the putt dropped so started the raindrops. Seeing a huge squall of rain coming and 3 groups waiting on the 12th tee (a long par three) I informed my playing partner I was going in. He was SHOCKED, Randy how the hell can you go in now when you most likely will break the course record. My reply was simple, with the bad weather coming, perhaps I will wait this rain out and come out later and finish my round.

I now had 1000 yards to walk back to the club house against a 30mph wind and driving rain. It was amazed that I was the only one on the course heading back to shelter. Upon my arrival, I parked my buggy in the over-hang at the clubhouse and went looking for my girlfriend. After some delicious Fish and Chips we decided to hit the road early and get to Ballybunion at a decent hour for dinner. We headed to the car and began the long journey north (I think it was north). After about 2 hours I couldn’t keep my eyes open so decided to pull over and took a delightful 45 minute nap in the backseat all stretched out.

We then proceeded to about 5 minutes from Ballybunion when I started thinking why was I able to take a nap in the back seat when I was having my clubs always travel there. That’s when I realized like an Idiot I left them on the buggy in the breezeway at Waterville. I wasn’t about to call there, and ask, hey is anyone driving this way? So off we went back three hours to Waterville, when I arrived there my clubs were abandoned in the breezeway at about 7pm sitting there. I didn’t want anyone to know about my bonehead move, so I quickly grabbed the clubs and off we went back three hours to Ballybunion.

If I’m playing for fun, I am never going out in 30+ mph winds with sideways driving rain, thats what we had for two days straight at Ballybunion. I have yet to hit one shot at this amazing looking course, and hope to one day return to this part of Ireland for more golf memories. We headed back to Dublin where I met up with my good pal, and decided to take a drive to a very good course an hour outside of Dublin (sorry no memory of the name) but has a great day of golf, and again in high winds I had an under par round, and was excited for the start in a few days of the Senior Open at Royal County Downs. When we reached Dublin on the way back from golf I noticed I needed gas, so in we went to a gas station that are a little different than here in the States. I noticed the price seemed a little strange to me while I was pumping the gas. After about filling half the tank, to my horror I realized that I was filling the tank with Diesel gas, not regular. OMG I thought for sure this was a $5000 mistake and that I ruined the car. I almost called Hertz to ask them what I should do, knowing they would hit me with a huge penalty and problem.

After consulting with many people at the gas station we decided to try and drive the car and see if we could dilute the Diesel gas and keep adding regular to the tank. OMG what a nightmare, PLEASE don’t ever do this, as I made so many idiotic mistakes on this trip. After a few days of driving the sputtering car, it finally smoothed out and I felt comfortable to take it on the freeway heading to Royal County Downs.

We arrived a day early before the official practice days, and tried to see if I could play a practice round, The answer was a resounding NO, and I needed to play with a member and all the times were filled. I had communicated with a friend that was a member and he requested to the Caddy Master that I get a good and experienced caddy. I stopped by the caddy master headquarters to say hello, and he gruffly said he didn’t have me on his list, and that I would have to wait and see what he could find for me. I showed him the confirming email between him and my member friend, and he just didn’t seem to care at all.

So on practice day one, I was assigned a caddy that had NEVER candied before, and actually had never been on a golf course before. It was laughable how I needed to tell him where to stand, when not to talk, how to carry the clubs, twice he dumped the clubs out of the bag as he could never quite get the hang of the proper way to carry the clubs. Nice enough kid, but not suited to be learning while a player is preparing for a global amateur major. After the torturous round was over, I again asked the caddy master if anyone else would be available. His response I will never forget, he basically scolded me, and asked me what was wrong with the kid he provided. I didn’t want to throw the kid under the bus, so I said it was just his inexperience and that I didn’t want him to be a distraction to my fellow playing partners.

The mistake I made was not just pulling my own Trolly, I would have had to pay him anyways, and decided perhaps he had learned the basics of caddying going into the start of the tournament. However the weather forecast was miserable, and possibly could be the worst weather day of THE YEAR!!

I woke up to a hard driving wind, but yet no rain falling. When I tee’d off the wind was blowing so hard I could hardly stand up, and made a disappointing par on the opening par 5 hole. By the second tee the rain had started and it was coming down hard and sideways. When we reached the second green it needed to be squeegeed off before we could putt. Somehow I ran a 30 foot putt in for a birdie and was quite pleased.

Soon after I putted though the horn blew, and the round was suspended. The forecast was horrible, and with standing water already on the greens and in the bunkers it looked like a wash out day. But it was still early, and we walked back in while the rain came down in sheets. When I returned to the clubhouse I pointed to my hotel room, which was only a few hundreds yards from the first tee. I gave him my room number, mobile number and said to let me know when and if there was an announcement about restarting the round.

I went to my room and started blow drying my rain gear that was soaked, after a half hour I wanted to check for an update and called the Pro shop at Royal County Downs, and a woman answered and said that the round would commence 2.5 hours after 12:15. It was a bit confusing, so I said ok, that means we will restart at 14:45 and she said YES. I wasn’t that alarmed by this strange answer because it was still raining outside, and perhaps they saw an opening on the weather radar.

So I waited in my room with my girlfriend and at about 12:50 my phone rang, and a gentleman identified himself as a member of the R&A to inform me that I had been disqualified from the Championship, and that all the players that were on the course were back in position and already playing. OMG to say I was pissed was an understatement. I told the R&A official that I had called the Pro shop and gotten bad information, he said yes, others did as well, and they still showed up to double check. I then went over to the course to find out that my caddy left right after we came off the course and went to a movie with friends.

Later that day I got another call from the Tournament director apologizing for what had happened and offered me a tee time on Saturday to play the course gratis on the R&A. This was Wednesday and I was already packing my bags to save myself the embarrassment of being the other players, my many friends that were wondering why I was DQ. So we quickly left, and I was still in shock after having flown 5000 miles and taken two weeks to prepare for the event at one of my favorite courses in the world.

But the Topper came the next day when my cell phone rang, and the caddie master was on the line asking me why I hadn’t yet paid my Caddy. Talk about biting ones tongue, I calmly told this caddy master that the caddy he assigned me completely  disregarded everything I asked him to do, left the premises and didn’t return to the golf course. Came back the next day and complained as to why he didn’t get paid for the 2 holes he caddied. I then called the R&A and explained in more detail what happened with my caddy, and again they apologized for what had happened.

My thought the whole time was why didn’t they call me earlier before the restart, they had my room number and my mobile phone, they called me only when it was too late and I was disqualified. I asked them if Rory had been in his room about to miss a restart, would they have found him on time? Of course they would, and of course Rory has a team of people that make sure he needs to be at certain places at the right time. I’m not as good as Rory, and I do love playing in the R&A events.

I’m not sure the R&A learned anything from this experience, although they did write about it the next year when I was the 1st round leader at Fornby. I was determined to win at Fornby and make amends for my blunder at Royal County Downs. I don’t blame the R&A, or my numbskull caddy or even the caddy master. I blame myself, it was totally on me to make sure I was beck on time for the restart, despite any information I may have gotten from the pro shop.

A HUGE learning lesson, and at 59 I am still learning. I hope you all enjoyed the short version of my many blunders and idiotic mistakes I made on that trip. But in the end I am one of the luckiest people alive that get to chase my dream and passion of playing in events like the Senior Amateur where  I was runner up a few months ago at Royal Porthcawl, against the best Senior amateurs in the world (minus Jeff Wilson he wasn’t in the field and he should be playing on the PGA Champions tour anyways).

SO the journey continues and many still shake their heads at some of the situations I get myself into. But I can assure you one thing, I do all of this chasing my dream because it allows me to meet and befriend some of the most incredible people on this planet. Golf is a community of great people with high integrity and purpose and passion. I have been blessed by this sport, and will be forever grateful for taking up this amazing game many years ago.

But now life has changed, my usual ritual has always been to be excited to come home to my loving mom that would be waiting to hear about my adventure in each tournament, and to see if I brought back a medal or trophy. Yesterday for the first time I had no one to share the story of winning the NCGA gold medal with. It didn’t diminish the experience it just made today a day of reflection on what is most important in our lives, which is the people that we love, an that love us.

As usual this is the unedited version of this very long post. If you are passionate about golf, and enjoy my version of what I experience, please share this with others.

Remember to always be patient, and think twice about making any important decisions in life or on the course!!!

STAY TUNED!


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