The NCGA recently asked me to write a few paragraphs about what I miss most about golf in its absence from COVID 19. I thought I would share with you my reply, as they posted it on the NCGA website
Yesterday was the first day I played golf again since the final round of the Florida Azalea in Palatka Florida on March 15th. That’s 41 days without hitting a single shot, putt or chip.
The funny part of this story is to keep in shape, I took an overgrown piece of my property here in Orinda that had 100 trees and small bushes and over 20 rats nests, cleared it, dug up all the roots and Ivy, and built garden boxes out of redwood. I now have 100 feet of corn growing 4 rows deep, and about every imaginable veggie growing. This is something that I have always wanted to do, but never had the time. I am sure we all have been living life differently than in the past with the “Shelter in Place” order.
During this cleanup I found 7 baseballs from my youth (my brother and I would routinely throw baseballs everywhere on the property) and some old tennis balls and other balls and old artifacts.
On Saturday I received an email that The Reserve at Spanos Park was opening on Sunday for golf with the usual precautions built in (single cart riding, no pulling pins, no rakes). I decided to book a tee time and see if I could get three buddies to play. This course is an hour and half drive from Orinda, but was well worth the drive as its a very nice public course and provided us an opportunity to get back out on the links.
I got confirmation that 3 of my best pals wanted to play and would all be there at 11:50 for our time. So on Saturday in the back yard I decided to try chipping an old tennis ball with a 60 degree sand wedge I had out there. I was in shock when I shanked the tennis ball 5 consecutive times, and decided to quit, and that it must be because the tennis ball is so big that it hits the hozzel of the shaft first.
Well my warmup yesterday included many chunks and wayward shots, so the money game was set at a very small roar. We decided to allow a “lunch ball” off the first tee and everyone found a drive they liked. The 1st hole at Spanos is very short, and I drove the ball to just short of the green side bunker leaving me about 35 yards to the pin. I remembered the great success I had in my previous tournament with weakening my grip on all my chip shots.
So there I was, thinking about starting off my first golf in 41 days with an opening birdie. But OH NO, I hit the ugliest chip shank you have ever seen. It literally went sideways, and only traveled 15 feet dead right. I decided to now strengthen my grip, and again I cold shanked it sideways. On my third attempt I actually hit it worse than a shank, it literally didn’t go more than six feet. On my fourth attempt I just straight armed it onto the green and scooped up my ball for a 6X.
This was the start to my new season. I’m not sure what is worse in golf, the yips, or the shanks. I think the shanks are easier to cure, but I had both going on the front nine. I carded a +3 39, my two scratch playing buddies shot 34 and 35, and my 10 handicap buddy shot a 41. At this point I was losing a small fortune.
The back nine was a different story, but every time I was faced with a chip shot, you better believe that I was frightened to death that another shank would appear. Luckily I got up and down twice, made three birdies and shot a 33 on the back nine. And received that my game had not completely left me.
My one buddy, almost didn’t miss a shot, and played a bogey free round of 67 (he won the money) my 10 handicap buddy threw the party, but has a chance to redeem himself as we travel to Elk Grove (again in Stockton) for a rematch.
Even after 41 days off from golf I have a completely different appreciation for golf, life, my health and freedom. So many families have been affected by this horrible virus that we will never live the way we have in the past. My thoughts, prayers and heartfelt affection go out to all those that have been devastated by this virus.
Golf is a wonderful outlet to life and its problems, I am supremely grateful that I had this safe reunion with my friends, which in the end, I do indeed miss those personal inter-relationships more than anything else.
Be safe, be well and stay tuned