When injuries start to creep into your golf game, nobody wants to hear about it, and likely nobody cares. We all suffer from the wear and tear of golf on our bodies.
Historically my issues have always been back related, then a couple of badly sprained fingers. I’ve had a few situations when I’ve had to dial the golf back, and even withdrew from a few events in the past.
In April while in Houston Texas preparing for an amateur event one evening my ankle began to hurt like hell. Didn’t sleep much, and thought something was seriously wrong with it. I was still able to play, and somehow probably have a world record for making a hole in one on the 17th hole, followed by a quadruple bogey nine on the 18th hole. Not real proud of that finish, and it certainly took the excitement out of the hole in one.
I thought all along this ankle pain would subside and that I’d roll into my summer events somewhat injury free. UNFORTUNATELY NOT THE CASE as I had to withdraw after one round of the NCGA Stroke Play championship after a 73 in the first round. I was unable to walk to the bathroom that morning let alone play golf. With my favorite trip of the year to the UK for the Senior Open and Senior Amateur I was getting worried about the ankle holding up in these events.
At age 60, you are in the countdown years of how many more of each of these events you’ll be competitive in. After my WD from the NCGA Stroke play, I drove 3 hours directly to the emergency room in the East Bay. Going to an emergency room is never going to reveal the problem, as you’ll not get an MRI unless its life threatening.
I withdraw on Saturday morning, with my flight to London set for Monday afternoon. Although I knew I would not be 100% I did not want to miss my favorite events of the year. That was the beginning of quite a shit show with British Airways. The good news for me was they had me in a business class seat that was also assigned to another passenger. They tried squeezing me into another business seat in the middle part of the plane. Of course I objected, and gave them my usual claustrophobic line. Usually works, but not always.
After they flight attendants huddled up, they offered me a full First Class seat, which I gladly accepted, however that was the end of the good experience with BA.
Upon our arrival in London, my travel buddy and I eagerly awaited our bags and clubs. Finally the bags came, but no clubs. Another traveler also was missing his clubs, so it seemed like BA decided to just leave all golf clubs behind. I think their little secret is, if the plane weighs too much, they off the heavy luggage (Golf Clubs) and never tell you the truth.
The fun began speaking with multiple baggage agents about where could our clubs be? How could they not know where they were? Still in SF? On the next flight that was 3 hours behind us? THEY HAD NO CLUE, and told us they could not call SFO to inquire either.
We tried to be super sweet and kind to the supervisor and asked if she could put a RUSH on getting our clubs to us, as we had a professional major golf event to prepare for. She said absolutely she would personally see to it that the clubs get delivered to our hotel in Southport, a good 4 hour drive away from Heathrow. She advised us to head on up, and the clubs would be there ASAP.
Off we went on the 4+ hour track to Southport, hoping to play a few holes at Hillside our qualifying course nearby. Upon arriving in Southport we were hopeful that BA would have an update on the status of our missing clubs. First you need to understand these airlines DO NOT WANT YOU TO CALL THEM, so they make you wait 30, 40 even 60 minutes on hold, before they tell you, you’ve called the wrong department and need to be transferred.
The next day we received an email that the clubs were found, and would be sent the NEXT DAY (Thursday) and we should have them in time for some afternoon golf. Of course that was WAY off as the clubs again seemed to disappear into their system. The next day we got word the clubs were finally being sent to MANCHESTER Airport at 7:00 am and would be sent over once they arrived. 12 hours later, and 4 days after we landed in Heathrow, we finally got our clubs. We had no practice or practice rounds over those waisted days, and certainly nobody at BA was looking after our lost baggage, and certainly nobody cared.
I guess the good news for me was that I was able to give my ankle some rest for a few days. The bad news was that now I needed to play practice rounds before the qualifier on Monday, when I had planned to rest over the weekend. Hillside is a very challenging golf course and a score over par will most likely advance into the Senior Open.
I came out strong on Monday, and headed to the 9th hole -1 on the front nine. A very poor second shot to the right put me in the right green side bunker. In my mind I was thinking, ok, even a bogey here and you’ll turn even par on the front. I know your never suppose to talk about your weaknesses in golf, but the honest truth is I am a poor bunker player, and this was not an easy shot. Upon striking the ball I thought I caught it a bit thin, but when I looked up, the ball was heading towards the hole, and then crashed in the cup for a birdie 3. I was quite amazed, surprised and pleased at this fortunate turn of events.
The bunker I found on the 10th hole was not so kind to me, after leaving one in the bunker, the next one I barely got out, and was left with a tough bogey chip. Somehow the golf gods were with me as the chip found the bottom for a head earned bogey. My thought was ok, I’m still 1 under and have the par five 11th coming up.
This is where the ankle decided no more torque please, and completely shut down on me. I battled hard, but this course has too much long nasty rough to allow errant shots to be played or even found. I was lucky to finish the back nine, limping heavily I signed my card with 34 on the front (The low from nine of the 120 qualifiers) followed by a whopping 46.
Life dealing with an injury like this was something I had not experienced before, and it was not fun driving off knowing that even if I had held on and shot a 40 on the back nine (74 qualified at Hillside) and qualified, I would not have been able to play the next 5 or 6 days in a row.
The only logical option was to drive North into Scotland to prepare for the Senior Amateur at North Berwick.
STAY TUNED FOR CHAPTER 2 IT ONLY GETS BETTER FROM HERE